Idaho Digital Learning goes to Washington DC

Dr. Cheryl Charlton and Dr. Sherawn Reberry take the podium at the White House
Dr. Cheryl Charlton and Dr. Sherawn Reberry take the podium at the White House

Idaho Digital Learning was invited to the Professional Learning Partner event with in Washington, DC because of the impact the organization is beginning to have on the implementation of computer science. Dr. Sherawn Reberry was invited to sit on a panel during the White House visit to discuss the regional implementation of computer science. Dr. Reberry takes a moment to answer a few questions about the event.

What did you do at the event?

We were able to listen to industry, government and education officials discuss computer science and the acceptance of computer science as foundational concepts for all content areas. We had the privilege of also meeting with Congressman Mike Simpson’s Education Liaison Solara Linehan. We were able to share the collaborative work being completed in Idaho around computer science.

Why was Idaho Digital Learning selected to attend?

Idaho Digital Learning is the Professional Learning Partner for the State of Idaho. We have been involved in collaboration and partnership with for the past three years. Idaho was the first state wide partnership for implementation.

What was the most interesting thing you learned about other programs?

Rural areas are prevalent throughout the United States. Other Professional Partners are working to design programs such as ours and there are opportunities to collaborate and share resources. We were excited to hear that Idaho was the first state to implement a hybrid model of delivering portions of this professional development for teachers and online courses for students. We are excited that we are working in partnership with to increase these offerings.

How do you feel this will benefit computer science in our state and nationally? is sharing with Idaho and the nation the importance of students having a computer science background. Just as students understand the importance of chlorophyll to plant life, it’s just as important for students to understand how computers work. These different efforts are assisting in the understanding of the importance of computer science as a foundational course. Computer Science concepts can be integrated directly with current curriculum.   

Are there any fun facts you want to share?

Computer Science is officially accepted as part of STEM.

Is there anything else you want to tell the Idaho education community about this experience?

It takes all of us to move forward. Computer Science fundamentals is important for a 21st Century Education. Partnerships are important — work together in collaboration so that our students are the beneficiaries of the outcomes, ultimately creating a pipeline so that Idaho’s pipeline is aligned from K – 12 education to post-secondary education to industry.

Stop, Drop & Roll Through Digital Literacy

By Dr. Sherawn Reberry & Marita Diffenbaugh

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 8.40.36 AMThroughout our educational career we have become very familiar with the term, “Stop, Drop and Roll!” Why? Because it has been engrained in our minds since we were in kindergarten. This is an important skill, and even as adults, we remember and take this to heart.

Nowadays, students need a different type of “Stop, Drop and Roll!” They need a playbook for digital literacy. The Internet is a big wide world, full of great learning; but, unfortunately there are also pitfalls that can arise. At an early age, students are beginning to develop as digital citizens and some might call them, digital natives.

In today’s world, digital natives gain technical skills before entering kindergarten. They understand how to successfully retrieve and find information through digital means. We must question how to help students understand the validity and safety of using resources, websites, apps and social media. Web literacy leader, Alan November, explains how educational leaders should “craft a clear vision of connecting all students to the world’s learning resources” while modeling “the actions and behaviors that they wish to see in their schools.” For students, it’s not just about the validity of judgment, but it is also about replication of skills. Do our students know when to Google and when to use their own skill set?

As school leaders we have the responsibility of ensuring that students are engaged in an effective learning environment — whether that environment is face-to-face or online. Digital Literacy is a critical component of any learning environment. Digital Literacy, as defined by The American Library Association’s Digital Literacy Task Force (2011), “the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.” However, no matter the subject that is being taught it is important for students to know how to think critically and evaluate the digital world surrounding them. It is our job, as educators, to ensure that students are prepared for life in the real world, civically responsible and digitally literate.

“Stop, Drop and Roll” should now be aligned with our connected world to safeguard our students ensuring that they are prepared for life, civically responsible, and digitally literate.

  • Stop: always be critical of sites, tools, and conversations; know where you are at all times
  • Drop: what you are doing when it feels uncomfortable and know who to tell
  • Roll: move away from what you are doing and analyze the validity of the source

At Idaho Digital Learning we take careful consideration of all tools and resources that we ask our students to utilize. We encourage students to understand that the digital world provides a magnitude of opportunities when a positive and confident digital presence is sustained. From the beginning of a course through the final exam we employ design efficiencies as well as transparency with our teacher expectations. Our teachers are trained to be watchful for indicators that a student is struggling, not just academically, but also emotionally. IDLA encourages our teachers and students to employ the 4 C’s:

  • Critical Thinking
  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Creativity

The use of the 4 C’s is imperative for our students to emerge as literate digital citizens.

It is critical that our students are learning for themselves today, but also to be productive citizens in the future.

  • Critical Thinking will not only help our students grow with the world around them, but it will also help them understand when to “Stop” and reposition themselves now and in their future. Critical thinking will help them make adjustments while reviewing evidence, evaluating claims and learning the importance of rational decision making.
  • Communication skills will teach our students how to be global citizens. Understanding the outlying factors in how to communicate well, will assist our students in the knowledge of when to “Drop” from uncomfortable situations.
  • Collaboration is re-emphasized throughout the research (as read at that it is a critical skill to ensure the globalization of a connected workforce. As stated in the before mentioned document, “the collaborative culture…demonstrates how people working together can produce extremely inclusive and valuable resources.” Author James Surowiecki, for example, explains how we use the “wisdom of crowds” in the new economy by saying that “under the right circumstances, groups are remarkably intelligent, and are often smarter than the smartest people in them.”
  • Creativity is now a driving skill for the workforce. Previously, creativity was thought of as a secondary skill; however now it arising as a critical driver. Sir Kenneth Robinson, stated, “Creativity is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status,” taken from, page 23. Creativity is the skill that allows students to know when to “Roll”, move away from the source and analyze for validity.

The 4 C’s are closely interwoven. Today all four skills are critical components for forward movement in school and life beyond. The ability to innovate rests on many different skillsets and the ability to interweave those skillsets together.

Recognizing that we are all digital contributors means that educators are tasked with being intentional when providing opportunities for students to practice critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity online.

A Team Huddle could be a great strategy for implementing the 4 C’s into any learning environment. Gathering together with your team to listen, strategize and celebrate is common practice in sporting events. The “team huddle” involves a coach or a lead player that comes to the group with strategies for play, encouragement, and experience that serves to support the entire team. Players bring their questions, input and experiences, as well.

Educators and families can use a “team huddle” to support learners in the area of digital literacy, while activating the “Stop, Drop and Roll” message for how to navigate and contribute online. Some students might feel reluctant to share negative online experiences for fear that these trusted adults will remove the Internet from them, entirely. Conversations about how digital footprints can be permanent can result in some students feeling regret and fear from their past online contributions. Explaining to learners that “from this moment on” they can choose to demonstrate positive digital citizenship and bring hope to this kind of situation.

Looking for scenarios to work through with your team? Common Sense Education’s K-12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum offers educators, families and students guidelines, resources and connections with others around the globe that are working through many of the same digital dilemmas.

When creating your team’s digital literacy playbook consider weaving in “The YOU MATTER Manifesto” from Angela Maiers.

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 9.03.01 AM

Your team’s playbook can include the familiarity of “Stop, Drop and Roll” while supporting students for online emergencies and encouraging productive and positive digital citizenship.

  • Stop: always be critical of sites, tools, and conversations; know where you are at all times
    • Your actions define your impact
  • Drop: what you are doing when it feels uncomfortable and know who to tell
    • You have an influence
  • Roll: move away from what you are doing and analyze the validity of the source
    • You are the change

As our students move along their educational path into the world beyond high school they will have a skillset that will enable them to be digital contributors in a thoughtful, meaningful, and safe way. Formalized instruction helps to guide students’ educational experiences and doing this with a global outlook, can be a challenge. This is hard to navigate alone, we are better together. IDLA is comprised of a group of educators that prides ourselves in working together and sharing strategies for the success and safety of all students. Idaho Digital Learning serves our students but also reaches out to all districts in Idaho to join their team huddle and be part of the collaboration for online and blended learning.


The NEA Guide to the Four C’s:

Angela Maiers The You Matter Manifesto:

Team Huddle:

Google Digital Literacy and Citizenship Curriculum:

Fire Safety Reference: Stop, Drop and Roll

Alan November – Why Schools Must Move Beyond One to One Computing:


Online Student Success: A Personalized Pathway with Local Support

By Jeff Farden

The ATLAS School Wall of Fame
The ATLAS School Wall of Fame

In the ever-changing landscape of education, countless tools are available to students to help personalize their learning and to provide educators with options to better assist them in their areas of interest.  The integration of technology and online content have helped students in not only meeting their academic goals but also by providing opportunities that may not be available within their current school. These tools have increased student options and empowered them with ownership of their educational experience, thereby becoming a vital component to their academic success.

This success is sometime difficult for students to achieve by themselves. Many students find the transition into online learning challenging and can benefit from an adult mentor available. The mentor can help them with questions and to provide support and motivation as needed. The adults supporting these students play a key role in how students embrace online options and can be a pivotal component to their academic success.

Having a local advocate is critical in assist students with course enrollment options, as well as providing the ongoing monitoring and motivation. These staff members, counselors, and/or Idaho Digital Learning Site Coordinators, routinely go above and beyond to ensure students have a sense of self-worth in their coursework. They aid students with hurdles they may encounter and need help overcoming. Having an advocate that students can rely on for motivation, help and accountability during the school day provides students with a positive influence who not only ensures they are held to academic standards but, equally as important, that students are intrinsically motivated to excel.

Idaho Digital Learning Site Coordinators, and others assisting students, often employ creative  techniques for connecting with their students. One such motivating technique, used by the ATLAS Site Coordinator Colin Gordon, provides students with recognition of class accomplishments through a “Wall of Fame”.  This classroom display contains personalized certificates when students complete a class. This public recognition provides not only acknowledgement of a job well done but also motivates other classmates to have their names included on the wall.

Idaho Digital Learning has found that academic success can often be directly correlated to the level of support students receive during the school day. Idaho Digital Learning is committed not only to supporting Idaho students but to support those staff members who work with and assist students on a daily basis.

Idaho Digital Learning Evaluation and Reporting Process

Idaho Digital Learning teachers are evaluated at a minimum of four times per course, with a culminating evaluation at the conclusion of each course conducted by a trained, certified Idaho administrator. Idaho Digital Learning’s evaluation process and measurable indicators are aligned with national online standards and the evaluation requirements set forth by the State of Idaho. As Idaho’s State Virtual School, evaluative information submitted to the Idaho State Department of Education (SDE) follows guidelines developed between Idaho Digital Learning and the SDE which includes an approved timeframe for submitting annual teacher evaluative information. In compliance with SDE guidelines, Idaho Digital Learning submitted evaluation data for the 2014-2015 school year and will be submitting 2015-2016 data in August 2016.

Idaho Digital Learning employs highly qualified, Idaho-certified teachers and administrators throughout the state. A majority of these teachers and principals are dually-employed in an Idaho School District. Additionally, Idaho Digital Learning works with school districts, the State Department of Education, and the State Board of Education to ensure all recommendations and regulations required of public school districts and charter schools are followed in practice. Idaho Digital Learning continues to work with all stakeholders to ensure quality in online courses and to provide accountability, as well as transparency.

Digital Portals: The Revolution of Education Single Sign-on

Orofino Jr-Sr High School Digital Portal powered by Idaho Digital Learning
Orofino Jr-Sr High School Digital Portal powered by Idaho Digital Learning

By: Valerie Doherty

In a world that is increasingly digital, passwords protect our valuable information and personal identity online. Every site from banking to social media requires a password for secure access. The problem is, each site has different criteria for an acceptable password. For example, most require both letters and numbers, are case sensitive and must have a certain amount of digits and/or numbers. Technology experts advise that you should never use the same password on multiple sites. With the growing number of accounts we each have, who can remember them all?

As educational resources have begun to migrate into the digital format, students taking online classes are presented with this challenge daily. Not only do they have district assigned accounts, they have classes to access which have numerous resources that may require password protection. These added steps may become barriers that inhibit a student’s ability to learn efficiently and effectively.

Feeling the need to remove this obstacle, Idaho Digital Learning has created digital learning portals. The custom school portals offer students the opportunity to access their online courses, resources, and more in a single easy-to-use location while allowing schools local control over their student’s online experience. Portals can also act as a communication tool, providing links to school internet acceptable use policies and tools that promote digital citizenship.

Initially designed for districts and schools, the portal vision has since grown into other educational opportunities throughout Idaho. For example, Idaho Digital Learning has partnered with the Idaho State Department of Education to create the Educational Resource Library (ERL) which will provide professional development opportunities and resources to all Idaho teachers through the single sign-on portal environment.

Educational Resource Library (ERL)

Due to the success of these portals, Idaho Digital Learning envisions the Parent Resource Center. A portal that provides one location where parents can access resources (learning tools, information, materials, and a vibrant community) available for them to support their child(ren) as they begin along their educational path and continue toward college and career opportunities.

What started out as a solution for multiple  passwords has grown into an awesome tool that provides efficiency thus making everybody’s lives simpler.

Clearing Browser Cache

By: Valora Hodges

What does clearing my browser history actually do and why does Idaho Digital Learning technical support always ask me to clear it when I’m having issues with things loading in my class?

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 2.57.14 PMWeb browsers like Firefox and Chrome have a special storage folder on your computer called a cache.  In the cache folder the browser will store web items (sometimes called cookies) that it thinks you will need again when hopping from page to page.  This is done to help speed up future loading time for a given webpage and allows the website to run effectively giving the user (you) a pleasant online experience.  Yet sometimes this system that is designed for efficiency is what is causing the webpage to only load partially or not load at all.

The reason why “cached” items cause loading nightmares is because websites are constantly updating to newer and better versions of themselves.  The browser(s) on your computer might have items stored in the cache folder that are outdated and so when a newer version of that website is trying to load, the old outdated files and cookies cause errors.

Different browsers have different ways for clearing cache and cookies yet the process is usually quick and easy.  With a few clicks and a refresh, you can be back to your online work in no time. Below are a few links from Idaho Digital Learning recommended browsers that walk you through how to clear your browser history.

Clear Chrome Cache                         Clear Firefox Cache

Growth Mindset

By: Jeff Simmons

Are you of a fixed mindset or a growth mindset? Don’t know the difference? “Mindset” is a term you may hear a lot, lately. For a great read on this topic, check out Carol Dweck’s work, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

A very short summary of the two concepts is this –

Those with a fixed mindset believe their abilities and their environment are limiting. The only way to show value is to measure myself against others and find some way in which my individual success is greater than another, or to discolor the success of another to make myself look greater. For an individual with a fixed mindset, success is determined by their perceived value of the end product of their work. For a fixed mindset, the journey is less important than the destination.

Those with a growth mindset believe their abilities are always evolving, and that their environment may change but cannot determine their success. An individual with a growth mindset may compare themselves to others, but not to determine value. In a growth mindset, success is found in the journey. I learn, I grow, I improve, and I find value in that achievement, even if the perceived value of the end product of my work is less than the perceived value of the end product of another individual’s work. For a growth mindset, the journey can be more important than the destination.

Below is an image that does an excellent job of differentiating the two mindsets:


How should the concept of mindset apply within our classrooms? Whether face-to-face, blended, or online, students need to understand and embrace the concept of a growth mindset. Learning is about the journey. If the focus is on the destination, learning can become a difficult, frustrating, and sometimes defeating experience.

As educators, helping students love to learn and helping students learn how to learn well is just as important, if not more important, than the content we teach. Students need to learn to become lifelong learners. They need to learn they can continue to grow throughout their lives. They need to learn they are capable of learning new things, growing to meet new challenges, and are equipped with the skills they need to succeed in life. The challenge to us is to embrace a growth mindset of our own, and then infect our students with it. If we can meet this challenge, we set up each student with the ability to meet their full potential, which should be the goal of every educator for each of their students.

Embrace growth. Empower change.

Rethinking Failure: Let Go of Fear, Embrace Opportunity

By Theresa Carter

BLOG: Embrace Opportunity

I know volumes have been written on this topic, but each time I work with teachers in this organization–whether it’s blended teachers or cohort teachers,  this idea moves to the forefront, so it must need saying again.

How can we shift our thinking so as to embrace the barriers in education, and search for opportunities to further our goals?

Experiencing change can cause us discomfort; it’s human nature to avoid things that make us uncomfortable, but if we can see our way past the barriers, there is a whole world of experiences just waiting for us.

While I completely understand the purpose fear serves biologically (i.e. Danger, Will Robinson!), I watch in fascination as teachers move ahead by leaps and bounds because they just aren’t afraid of failing.

Case in point: I had the privilege of spending yesterday with a teacher from the Potlatch school district (Go, Loggers) and in that conversation, I was humbled by this man’s willingness to let nothing stand in the way of  his professional growth or better serving his students. He told stories of his time in a 1:1 class, where he embraced his students’ knowledge, and felt supported by his administrators. In his current position, he’s encouraged to try new tools, and is supported as he pursues professional learning opportunities.

He was willing to make mistakes;  when he made one, he didn’t apologize, or feel embarrassed. He used it as a way to correct course, and move forward. He didn’t  express concern over whether this new approach would work; he had a clear vision of how education could look, and he embraced it. The whole experience was an inspiring reminder of how I should  face all my  challenges.

We spent conversation time on how fun it was to let students teach us. He gave examples of asking his kids to help him learn a tech tool; he willingly admitted to them he didn’t know everything. Gasp. Whoever put that notion in our pedagogy for the last 100 years should be flogged, by the way.

He modeled so perfectly the process that’s necessary for learning;  fear and ego will never get in the way of this man’s teaching.

I also watched in fascination as he literally tackled a whole new learning management system without the slightest amount of fear or hesitation. I honestly can’t remember hearing him say the words  can’t, won’t, or don’t.

He could see the bigger picture: he gave himself permission to not get everything right the first time; he willingly engages with his students and his peers to “dig in”; he apparently refuses to be deterred by fear and  uncertainty.

I happened to see his principal on my way home; on the side of the road, with gesturing and widened eyes and smiles, I gushed that not only did I wish I could clone him, but I wanted to be just like him.

How would education look if everyone felt like that?