All posts by Susan Hennessey

Susan Hennessey is a reformed librarian and current professional development coordinator with a particular interest in digital credentials and scavenger hunts. She's addicted to flavored almonds, salty, crunchy snacks, and Google Hangouts.

Blended learning and teacher empowerment

Getting educators to a place of power with a powerful method

blended learning and teacher empowermentWhen I think about educational technology, it has never for me been divorced from pedagogy.  As soon as I encounter a new digital tool, although it might attract me at first based on its novelty, my mind immediately jumps to the connection of how can I use this with my students to __________.  I fill in that blank with all manner of things to include: uncover what they’ve learned, inspire deep thinking, provide a visual prompt or clue, create an engaging hook, etc.  So, sometimes I’m taken aback when colleagues suggest teachers who embrace technology “tool hop” without any intentionality or simply like to play with then next new, shiny toy.

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Student motivation in claims, evidence and audience

What makes an argument worth making?

student motivation in claims and evidenceRecently, I was working with a colleague about getting students more jazzed to dive deep into building claims with supporting evidence.

My colleague stated:

“To be an argument, there needs to be a sense of “others” who are vying against our argument in ways that excite/worry us about our intellectual flanks. Moreover, to be an argument, one needs to have some skin in the game. Who wants to argue an argument that’s already been made/won, and that all sides know the answer to? In general, “how” questions …elicit procedures/summaries of what is known. “Why” questions generally do a lot better stoking argument.”

I took a few minutes this morning to pull together some resources that might help to create an audience of “others” or that could be used to generate engagement in the claims/evidence making process.

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Digital Display: add Credly badges to Google Sites

100 years of Girl Scouts can’t be wrong

Add Credly badges to Google SitesDigital badges have potential to serve as both markers of achievement and as a vehicle for those of us who assess students’ learning for a living to think differently about our current practices.

Many students do the work of examining their own learning through collecting artifacts, reflecting on evidence of learning, and displaying the results of that learning on their digital portfolios.  As Act 77 in Vermont encourages us to open multiple avenues for learning opportunities, it also demands of us multiple ways for students to capture, reflect upon, and display their achievements.

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Storing digital badges for portfolios

What are some mechanisms for keeping track of digital credentials?

storing digital badgesAs we work with schools who are piloting digital badge programs on the BadgeOS platform, we need to start thinking through what some options are for students to store, keep track of, and display the digital credentials they earn.

What does it look like to use to create and manage a portfolio of digital badges? How does this differ from other Mozilla Backpack solutions?

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Encouraging Conversations with EdPuzzle

Make active video viewing a social activity

encouraging conversations with EdPuzzle
encouraging conversations with EdPuzzle

Edpuzzle opens up the possibility for both students and teachers to encourage a two-way exchange, a conversation, if you will, during video viewing.  Any video can be uploaded into Edpuzzle including your own, and they make it convenient to do so with this comprehensive side bar access to multiple video-based resources.

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Active video viewing

 Encourage critical thinking & discussion with note-taking

active video viewingI have been excited lately with the potential of using in blended classrooms to support active participation in video viewing. is a web-based tool that allows users to take notes while watching a video.  Here is an example of some notes I took while watching  Robert Duke’s video “Why Students Don’t Learn What We Think We Teach

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Reflecting in the math classroom

Keeping your resolution to reflect

Susan Hennessey, Professional Development CoordinatorMy colleague, Meredith Swallow, recently shared a post about the importance of reflection in her professional growth, which got me thinking.  She points her readers to Reflect or Refract: Top 3 Tips for the Reflective Educator where the authors suggest “reading a wide variety of education blogs regularly exposes educators to new ideas and concepts. Transformational thinking occurs when conversations about these posts develop. New ideas that stem from blog posts provide alternate thoughts to consider.”

I couldn’t agree more. Here are a few tech-savvy math bloggers who you might want to engage with to inspire ongoing reflection.

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Multiple learning pathways with MOOCs

What does change really look like?

multiple learning pathways with MOOCsI’ve been on the search for examples of teachers creating multiple learning pathways in middle level classrooms.  I need concrete examples of what one might look like to wrap my head around this change agenda. Today, I’m looking at massive open online courses (MOOCs); are there multiple learning pathways with MOOCs?

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Common sense advice for tween social media use


Apparently, asking friends to follow HennesseyGirlsMom on Instagram would be social suicide.

Susan Hennessey, Professional Development Coordinator

My 12-year-old twins are counting the days to their 13th birthday in April, anticipating with much more urgency than past years their special day, all so they can finally triumph over the tyrant of online limitations…the dreaded Under 13 Terms of Service rule.

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iBook Authors at Harwood Union Middle School

Be your own Hero

iBook Authors at Harwood Union Middle SchoolUsing the free iOS Shadow Puppet app, I created this brief look at an amazing unit designed by one of our partner educators, Jonah Ibson, at Harwood Union Middle School.

Ibson challenged his students to write their own “hero’s journeys” using the iBooks Author software. By taking ownership of the Hero’s Journey narrative, students are encouraged to create e-books that place them in the hero’s role. The resulting e-books will have a chance to be housed in an elementary school library, and read out by librarians to younger students.

Check out these amazing iBook Authors at Harwood Union Middle School, in Moretown Vermont.

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Too much good stuff: a wealth of reading and curation resources for the classroom

The technology cannot thwart us, it can only make us stronger

Susan Hennessey, professional development coordinator
I talk with my hands.

As many of you are aware, I was out at Harwood Union High School this past week for the Washington West Supervisory Union (WWSU) inservice day, armed to the teeth with iPads, apps, and tips and tricks for integrating technology into the classroom in a thoughtful, comprehensive and device-agnostic way.

Well, Harwood’s wi-fi network took one look at my plans and passed out cold, a victim of shock and awe, I’m sure!

As I have no wish to cause the wi-fi further damage, let me present all my resources to you here in the pages of our very own Tarrant Institute blog.

Continue reading Too much good stuff: a wealth of reading and curation resources for the classroom

How to add footnotes to Google Docs on your iPad

Cite your sources as you write

how to add footnotes to Google Docs on your iPadI was working with a teacher the other day who expressed some frustration around wanting to add footnotes to Google Docs on the iPad while doing some research with students.

Well, as I began to look into it, I realized there’s kind of a trick to it, so I sat down and recorded this screencast to show you step by step how to set up your Google Drive so you can add footnotes to research on your iPad. It’s a bit tricky, but I’m sure you’ll agree, entirely worth it.

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Differentiated social reading with Subtext

Make the most of Subtext’s capacity for differentiated reading

How to app-smash with SubtextA-reading we will go, A-reading we will go, hey ho the dairy-o, a reading we will go!


We’re going to take a look at the free iOS app Subtext, which provides a host of tools that let you empower readers in your classroom while providing them with maximal scaffolding for success. Subtext was really designed to differentiate the process of close reading, letting readers respond to stories with comments and even photos uploaded from their Camera Roll.

Two other huge benefits of the Subtext app are that you, as the educator can set up virtual reading groups within your classroom and you can also pull webpages and pdfs into Subtext, to capture the types of digital texts that a lot of 21st century learners like to read. Let’s go through how to get set up with Subtext.

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How to use EdPuzzle for differentiation

How to use EdPuzzle for differentiationNew cool tool for flipped classrooms and personalized learning

Check out this great resource for differentiation and the flipped classroom: EdPuzzle. It lets you mark up videos with commentary, crop them for time and embed quizzes. And as an educator, you can see behind-the-scenes exactly how students are engaging with your content, so you can use EdPuzzle for differentiation.

Let me walk you through how to get up and running with it.

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Simplifying the search for information

A teacher with whom I work asked his 7th grade students recently for feedback:

“We did this in order to garner information on how to improve the independent learning project that we are currently creating. The big ideas that came out of that survey included the following:
They want…
  1. More time
  2. More consecutive work days (too many disruptions)
  3. More support for finding information”


While there were more “wants” on this list, I’m stopping at #3 for this blog post and sharing some tips & tricks that might help support their efforts at information searching.

I’ll focus at this point on search engines.  One resource worth exploring with students as they begin the information gathering stage of their research project is Instagrok
Results of users searchers appear as facts, websites, images, videos, etc. all in a visually appealing mindmap layout that can be adapted both by selecting a “difficulty” level and by pinning chosen resources to the mindmap.

Here’s how it works using the search phrase civil war:

Let’s follow what happens when a researcher searches for websites:



Notice that the site prompts researchers to explicitly decide if the source is credible.  The Evaluate the Source for Credibility form pictured above is from EasyBib.

Researchers and their teachers will like that the website search is saved along with any sticky notes generated to the main mind map:

And the map can be shared via a link, embedded in a blog or website, or shared via these other outlets.


From their “terms of service” page:

You do not need to register to use instaGrok: you may research topics by
making Groks on the subjects that interest you. Additional features,
such as history and journal functionality, may require registering for
an account. There is no charge for using the base features, but further
functionality, such as the educator dashboard, may require payment.”

 For a quick look at what Instagrok looks like on an iPad, take a minute to watch this tutorial:

Still curious?  Read more – Review from Edudmic:  Instagrok, the search engine made just for education.