Feed aggregator

Not “Just” a Teacher: Finding Your Voice as a Teacher

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 21 September, 2017 - 21:11

Brianna Hodges on episode 154 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Do you ever feel like you’re “just” a teacher? Do you feel like that person up on the stage never could be you? But you have a passion. You have a fire and a message – but what do you do with it? Brianna Hodges shares her journey from small-town teacher to the stage, state legislature, and nation’s capital. As she transparently shares her story, I believe that thousands of educators will also find the encouragement to speak up and speak out.

For, dear teachers, there is no such thing as “just” a teacher. You have a voice. Your words are important. And we need hundreds of thousands of passionate educators to help make this world a better place for our students.

So, don’t just sit there – get up and get started. Find your voice!

Today’s Sponsor: Edpuzzle is my new favorite flipped classroom tool. You can take your videos or those from YouTube and:

  • Clip the video
  • Record your own voice over
  • Pause the video and add your voice just in certain spots
  • Add comments, multiple choice or open ended questions.

And if you click www.coolcatteacher.com/edpuzzle, Edpuzzle will give your school access to the 50,000 best lessons from Edpuzzle, organized in folders and ready to be used by teachers. Once click and you have everything you need for the year!

Listen Now

Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. All comments in the shaded green box are my own. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.


Enhanced Transcript Not “Just” a Teacher: Finding Your Voice as a Teacher

Shownotes: www.coolcatteacher.com/e154
Thursday, September 21, 2017

Brianna’s story begins: from winning an award to the state legislature

Vicki: Today we’re thinking about finding our voice, but helping our students find their voice, and also finding our voice as educators. We have somebody uniquely qualified. We have Brianna Hodges @edutechtastic. She’s the 2017 Texas Instructional Technologist of the Year.

One day, Bri, you woke up and you were getting ready to testify in front of, I believe, the Texas State Legislature, right?

Brianna: Hah!!! Yes.

Vicki: And you had a friend who pushed you to help find your voice, and you’ve ended up in D.C., right?

Brianna: I have! I am very honored to serve as one of the two national advisors for Future Ready Schools, representing the Instructional Coach strand. And so, yes, I’ve kind of started very quickly after accepting the award for Instructional Technologist of the Year, then TCEA – as many of our state affiliates has a strong advocacy arm for educational opportunities here in Texas. And so, they reached out to myself and Carl Hooker, another one of our proud Texans, and asked if the two of us would go and testify in front of the Senate, in front of the legislature, on educational technology and Open Education Resources and instructional materials.

And so it’s really interesting. I actually have a background in politics and have worked with a lot of those people in a far different life, but to kind of come back into that area and then kind of have to speak on behalf of your profession, knowing that everything is recorded and that it can be highly contentious. It’s very intimidating, and to be looked at as that authority it was really interesting. I owe Carl a great big thank you for instilling that confidence that you’re asked for a specific reason… and that if you speak the truth in you, you speak it with your passion and your voice, then people want to listen to you and they believe in the ideas if you can paint that picture for them.

“I don’t see myself as ‘that’ person.”

Vicki: Now before you went up, though, he asked you a question. What was it?

Brianna: So Carl is also the godfather of iPad Palooza. Some of you might know about this. He had talked me into serving as one of the mini-keynotes for this learning festival. So iPad Palooza does – in place of having a single headline keynote event at the beginning of the festival – have a series of mini-keynotes. It’s pretty intimidating, honestly, for someone like me to see who all has graced that stage. But he has a way of believing in you and helping you see that could do it too.

So I agreed to it. So he asked me at that point, “OK what are you going to talk about?”

And I told him, “I don’t know. I don’t even know why you want me to do this!’ And I just started laughing because I am from a pretty small town, and I just don’t see myself as that person who gets asked to go and do all of these big (things). I just don’t see myself as that person who has that big name.

You know, he gave me some time. This was in April, and the learning festival, iPad Palooza is not until June, and so he was like, “Well, you’ve got some time. Don’t worry about it.” And we just kind of laughed that off.

Fast forward to a few weeks, and Carl also serves on Future Ready Schools as one of the advisors for the IT strand. So we both found ourselves in D.C. again. He asked again what I was going to speak on, and I said, “I really don’t know.”

He “pushed” me at that point, and he said, “Yes, you do. I asked you for a reason. And yes, you do.”

And I said, “OK, I really don’t know.”

And he said, “What would you tell your kids? What would you tell your teachers? Talk about what it is that you are passionate about.”

And he got me kind of riled up. I’ve known Carl for a number of years. So basically, I said, “OK! Fine. Yes. I would love to talk about how teachers are change agents, and what it means to actually change, and how do we create change. We create that change through using our voice and finding the thing that speaks loudest to us, and then taking that voice and sharing that with others.”

From that, he was really happy to know – and he said, “See, I told you. You knew that you had it in you.”

So fast forward to the actual keynote. Here I was. It’s a very intimidating process. You walk into this auditorium and there are all these video cameras on you. You see who all is going to be up there, and I drew the lucky straw of being the second person.

Anyway, my presentation… I kind of built it around, “What We’re Meant to Be.” We’re meant to be so much more than what we limit ourselves to, based upon our fear.

And so I talked about how, in my current role I spend my days in an instructional coaching role working with teachers. And they are faced with an immense amount of change as we go through this integration of technology, and individualization of learning, and all these different pedagogical changes that are coming rapid fire, it seems like in education.

That’s really unnerving, especially for teachers who have been really competent at what they have always done. Now all of a sudden to have that change come in. And then you take into consideration the amount of social media and just this world wide web, where everything is so connected and your ideas are shared instantly. That’s both a blessing and a curse.

So I really wanted to talk about how these same tactics that we use with our students – to help them understand that they matter – that we have to do the same things with our colleagues, as teachers.

A lot of the time, there’s a lot of influence and attention that’s put on the “school leaders” of principals and superintendents and administration. Sometimes teachers get lost in that, and we forget to value that they’re the ones who are actually changing the lives of so many children day in and day out. They’re the very people that often those kids can come to school for.

So I basically created a mantra that I talked about, how when we are in these situatons when we are asked to become these change agents, often our very first response is, “Well, I’m just a teacher.”

Don’t limit yourself through your fear

Vicki: (agrees)

Brianna: I was just super guilty of that with Carl, you know, and that was the very first thing I told him. “I’m just not good at this.” I found myself saying everything that my students would tell me.

Vicki: (laughs)

Brianna: And I was saying everything that my teachers would tell me. “I’m just not ready. I’m just not sure about it. I’m just a teacher. I’m just a mom. I’m just from a small town.” All of these different things. So after a lot of careful thought, when I was coming up with all of the things that I wanted to say, I decided on this mantra of just what all would we tell people.

My basic idea was that I needed my children – I have two kiddos, a five-year-old and an eight-year old – to be more than “just” a kid. I don’t want their fear to limit them.

I didn’t want my students to limit themselves through their fear.

I don’t want my teachers to limit themselves through their fear.

And so what I do tell them every day is that they are champions for learning. They are a stabilizing force for their students. They are fierce promoters of creativity and curiosity for their content. They are the game changers and the rally makers and the courageous crusaders. They are the spark and the voice and the change that our educational system needs. They are the very model of what our change agent looks like, sounds like, and acts like.

And I basically wrapped it all up by talking about that’s what we are meant to be. If we believe in ourselves and then we share that vision with each other, then that’s how we actually become the true change agents that we are challenged with.

Vicki: Wow. I love that. And there’s so much here. Really what you said stands on its own. But what I love, Bri, is your transparency of realizing that you and your students and your teachers are running along parallel tracks.

I can’t tell you how many incredible teachers I’ve seen at conferences, and I’ve gone up to them after sitting in on their session. I’ve said, “You should be speaking in more places. You should be sharing this story. Please blog. Please tweet. Please share what you’re doing.”

And their (response is), “Well, I’m just a teacher. I’m just not a big deal. I’m not THAT person.”

And they don’t understand that sometimes, we don’t choose the platform. The platform chooses us.

Brianna: (laughs)

Vicki: This is fantastic. I hope you’ll just keep using your voice to help us all find our voices.

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford

Bio as Submitted Brianna Hodges, Director of Digital Learning, Stephenville Independent School District, Texas
Brianna Hodges is a passionate change agent, mother of two, a true CrAZy One and iCHAMPION Evangelist. She believes that technology enhances learning experiences in every facet of life by allowing for true personalization.

Recognized as the 2017 Texas Instructional Technologist of the Year, Brianna serves as the Director of Digital Learning for Stephenville ISD and is a national advisor for Future Ready Schools and Certified Google Trainer and Flipgrid Ambassador.

Noted for her work in branding and social media, Brianna’s research has been published in several academic journals including the Journal of School Public Relations and the Journal for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.

She is believes in the power of coaching and inspires teachers and students to find their passions, embrace the challenges that life brings, and utilize their creativity to find ways to go bigger and grow brighter every day.

Catch up with Brianna on social media https://twitter.com/edutechtastic and online http://edutechtastic.com to see how you can help #BEEtheChaNGe!

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.)

The post Not “Just” a Teacher: Finding Your Voice as a Teacher appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

The Storm of Poverty Hits Us All

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 21 September, 2017 - 11:16

Why We Must Dare to Care

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

As we follow the changing maps of tropical storms Harvey, Irma, Jose, and now Maria, many of us have been looking at what meteorologists are calling the “cone of possibility.” Before you think that is a good thing – it isn’t. The cone of possibility means it is the area where a hurricane may possibly pass. You don’t want to be there. So, understandably, we get anxious when we see our hometown or our family inside that cone of possibility. We know that’s where lives change, homes are destroyed, and hunger grows.

Cathy Rubin in her Global Search for Education is tackling poverty this month.This article is part of that series.

We get upset and nervous as the storm draws closer. We run to the store. We talk to friends. We might even talk to our neighbors (for a change).


Until we find out that the hurricane is going somewhere else. While we may worry for those being hit by the storm, deep down, the truth be told, we breathe a sigh of relief.

Deep down, we’re glad that it isn’t our family. We’re relieved that it isn’t our neighborhood, because…

Our children won’t go hungry. Our house won’t lose electricity. We’ll be OK. It isn’t us.

Then, we tune into the news, and it looks like just another reality TV show. From the comfort of our homes, we watch the storms blow, while children and families we’ve never met are playing out the worst days of their lives for the world to see. We might offer a prayer, but deep down, we’re glad — glad that it isn’t us.

Feel the Fear

This time, I ask you to try something different. Take the fear that you felt about losing power, losing access to food, losing the ability to get to your job or even drive your car. Try living with the fear that death might touch your family, that you won’t have a safe place to shelter from terrible things happening outside your door.

I know that feeling. I struggled with it as I crouched in my closet while Hurricane Irma blew and I prayed that the leaning pine tree in my front yard wouldn’t take that moment to fall over and crush my house. My sixteen-year-old was sleeping in his closet. We wanted him safe, but even so, we weren’t sure that he would be. There are no guarantees when the storm hits. This time, it could be us.

So yes, take that fear and really feel it. Because, friends, we’re not overreacting when we get all worked up about a storm. Horrific weather events like this kill, cause hunger, and deprive people of basic necessities. We have telethons and raise money. And we should. These storms are horrible.

It Is Our House!

Daniel Simmons, an African-American pastor in the nearby town of Albany, Georgia, leads a congregation in one of the poorest cities in America. He told a similar story this past week, pointed a finger at us, and said:

“We won’t be able to make this place a better place until we realize that our neighbor’s house is our house. It is our house!”

And this, my friends, is poverty. We get upset by a storm because storms don’t play favorites. Old, young, rich, poor — all can be harmed by a storm. All become similar in their want and poverty. When the storm comes, we all suffer.

But this is the problem we have today in America and around the world: We refuse to claim our neighbor’s house as our own.

Sure, a crying two-year-old is found wandering down the street at night in Albany, Georgia. But it isn’t our child. (This happened just this week.) Sure, kids are hungry, but it isn’t our child. Kids don’t come to school because they lay awake last night scared of the gunshots on their street. But it isn’t our street.

Caring, Owning, and Acting

People who don’t care don’t dare.

People who don’t care don’t dare work to raise money for more library books. They don’t dare hold fundraisers to earn money to send kids on a special field trip. They don’t dare fight to feed the hungry in their neighborhood. Somebody needs to do those things, but so many people won’t because they refuse to own the problem. Sure, they’re sorry that someone else has a problem. Sure, they’re sad when they hear about suffering. But the only time that we’ll act is when we care enough to dare do something.

What makes you furious? What makes you angry? What gets you upset?

Until we as human beings can take ownership and realize that the poor in our neighbors are our family, our children, our neighbors — until we can feel that these problems are truly ours, I agree with Pastor Simmons that we likely won’t care enough to actually do something about it.

Poverty Is Within Everyone’s Cone of Possibility

If the hurricanes are doing anything, they’re waking people to the realization that poverty is within anyone’s cone of possibility. And while we can be upset about actual hurricanes blowing in from the Caribbean, we should also be upset that some children live in figurative hurricanes every single day. They live wondering if they’ll keep electricity, if they’ll have food, if their home can keep them safe from the storm that rages in their neighborhood.

I will admit that I haven’t felt the pain and anguish that I should feel for children and families living in poverty. That must change. It will change. I cannot stay the same after tasting the fear of poverty as we considered Irma’s hit on our hometown. I’ve been complacent because I haven’t owned it.

As long as we excuse the tragedy of poverty in our world by saying, “It doesn’t impact me,” we set ourselves up for an even bigger shock on the day that it will impact us.

When enough people in society are hopeless and enough other people in a society are heartless, that society is in danger of a storm for which there is no cone of possibility of escape for anyone within its borders.

We must fight poverty with as much force and frantic pursuit as we prepare for the storms that blow into our lives during this most terrible hurricane season. For truly, the storm of poverty is always with us and destroys lives every day. And we as educators must be part of the shelter and solution.

These are our children. These are our families. This is our neighborhood. And this is our time. We will not be heartless. We will help the hopeless. And we’ll stop sitting in our comfy homes and classrooms patting ourselves on the back because “it isn’t me.”

Poverty anywhere impacts people everywhere — for we have one big home called Planet Earth, and winds from which no one can escape are blowing stronger each year.

May we all awaken to a different level of caring about the problems of our communities, our neighbors, and our world, because we are far more interconnected than any of us can imagine or understand.

So, if I have a call to action for all of you reading this, it is to wake up and realize that many of us might not getting involved because it is someone else. We can’t do that any more. We have to realize these are our schools, our countries, our cities.

When the storm of poverty hits anyone in our community, it hits us all. And we, as educators, must be passionate and purposeful about providing shelter from the storm for the children in its path.

The post The Storm of Poverty Hits Us All appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Integrating the Arts into Every Subject

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 20 September, 2017 - 20:53

Catherine Davis-Hayes on episode 153 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

The graphic, performing, and theater arts are powerful allies for math, writing, and every subject you teach. As 2007 State Teacher of the Year in Rhode Island, Catherine Davis-Hayes is passionate about helping every teacher use the arts in their classroom. Today she shares techniques for teaching geometry and writing – but also a remarkable school-wide project.

Today’s Sponsor: Edpuzzle is my new favorite flipped classroom tool. You can take your videos or those from YouTube and:

  • Clip the video
  • Record your own voice over
  • Pause the video and add your voice just in certain spots
  • Add comments, multiple choice or open ended questions.

And if you click www.coolcatteacher.com/edpuzzle, Edpuzzle will give your school access to the 50,000 best lessons from Edpuzzle, organized in folders and ready to be used by teachers. Once click and you have everything you need for the year!

Steve Jobs said in his final Apple keynote introducing the iPad 2,

“It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our heart sing.”

This past week, I had students modeling processors, hardware, and software using play-dough. Something so simple ignited their excitement and learning. Catherine’s lesson for us today is worth sharing with curriculum directors, superintendents, principals, and teachers who are serious about improving learning.

Former secretary of education, William Bennett, says,

“An elementary school that treats the arts as the province of a few gifted children, or views them only as recreation and entertainment, is a school that needs an infusion of soul. That arts are an essential element of education, just like reading, writing, and arithmetic.”

 We all need arts in every classroom, in every subject, in what we do as educators. Not only is it fun but it


Retention and makes



Work to integrate arts into your lesson this week. (And I especially love the whole school “star trek” episodes they filmed. That project is FANTASTIC! Some of you will love doing it!)

Listen Now

Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. All comments in the shaded green box are my own. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.


Enhanced Transcript Arts in Every Subject: How to Make It Happen

Shownotes: www.coolcatteacher.com/e153
Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Introducing Catherine Davis-Hayes and her philosophy of arts in education

Vicki: So we’re here at the NNSTOY conference (nnstoy.org) and we’re talking with Catherine Davis-Hayes @cdhayes13, 2007 Rhode Island Teacher of the Year.

Now Catherine, you’re really passionate about having the arts in everything in a school. What’s your philosophy of that?

Catherine: Well, I think that any content area is more accessible to students and helps them to really understand that content if it’s used in real-world situations. And so, although I do see the benefit and also obviously the importance of teaching skills and processes and materials in my art room, I feel like the students are going to benefit in a greater way by applying it and actually using it to maybe demonstrate their understanding in other content areas.

So, for example, if there’s a math concept and you can bring in geometry shapes, creating artwork that uses the concepts, fractions, all the time observing proportions, and point out how much math they’re using in art, just by making the art. Not just necessarily make the project about math, but just point out, “Look at all the math you’re using as you’re creating your art.”

Or, exploring areas of social studies with the arts is a very, very easy way. And also, even though I’m a visual art teacher, I have become amazingly aware of the power of the performing arts. So I am not a dancer, and I am not a theater actor at all, but I have seen incredible connections made — through movement art and theater specifically – that have helped kids make connections to other content areas.

How does her school use the arts in everything?

Vicki: So does your school follow this whole philosophy of art in everything?

Catherine: We try. Things come and go over time. Funding comes and goes over time. We have had many of our teachers trained in arts integration. We had an amazing opportunity, going back ten years, to have professional development during the summer for as many of our teachers who were able.

Through a program called SmART Schools (www.smartschoolsnetwork.org), teachers were able to come in and learn how to they could use the arts inside their classrooms. So, it’s not always about the professional arts educator going in to a classroom. We taught really accessible tools that everyday classroom teachers could use in their classroom, and so that would be one level of arts integration and using the arts as a part of their toolkit to teach in the class.

And then, at sort of a deeper, larger scale level you could also team up with an art specialist – a music teacher, art teacher, and in our case we were super lucky to bring in a theater artist in residence – and then really put things on fire.

What is the common mistake people make integrating arts?

Vicki: Do you think there’s a common mistake that many educators have when they think about the arts in schools?

Catherine: I do. I sometimes think that when you mention, “Oh, let’s integrate the arts,” there’s always this vision of the movie or that TV show Fame where…

Vicki: (laughs)

Catherine: … suddenly everyone’s going to, like everything has to be a big huge production, that it means putting on a play or putting on a big production. And I think they get intimidated.

I also think that a lot of teachers don’t understand their own creativity. They assume, “Oh, I can’t draw a straight line, even with a ruler,” you know, that famous saying.

Vicki: (laughs)

Catherine: But they miss how creative they are every day in their classroom, and they miss that even the little things just doodling on a piece of paper, having kids sketch an idea first, getting kids up and moving to demonstrate a math concept.

“Let’s line up by height,” or you know, it doesn’t have to be smaller visual, music, auditory tools that help students connect.

Some easy ways to start with the arts in any classroom

Vicki: So if you could give us an “easy win” or two. You know, you’re talking to teachers of all kinds. “OK, here’s an easy way to integrate arts into your classroom.” What would you give us as an idea?

Catherine: I was reading the book Swimmy by Leo Lionni.

To have the kids really understand the concept of you can be a little piece and change the world… we had the kids get up and move around and act like that collection of little fish that formed the big fish.

Vicki: Oh…

Catherine: So, you know, just getting up out of your seat and mirroring an activity or solving a problem. You can do that in any classroom.

In the visual arts, having students illustrate the pictures of a story before they write it… Sometimes the pictures to tell the story come easier than the words. There are a lot of reluctant writers. If you have younger kids, just say “OK, here are five (places for) pictures. You have to have the beginning, the end, and then three pictures in between that bring you from that beginning to the end.” I don’t know of a kid who couldn’t sketch out a simple story.

And then have them write. And the writing goes deeper, because they’re not writing a story, they’re describing their art. And they can talk about art forever. They can tell you all about their art. Just one picture. But now they have maybe five simple pictures, and their story is going to be rich and descriptive and have all the detail that classroom teachers are hoping that their little writers could have.

Your proudest moments

Vicki: Catherine, describe on of your proudest moments at your school where you’re like, “OK. We’re ‘getting’ this!”

Catherine: (laughs)

So even though I just talked about doing little projects that are accessible, we’ve also done some pretty crazy big things, too.

One year, we did a project that was complete arts integration for grades 3, 4, 5, and 6. The grade level classrooms took on a concept. The whole idea was to support what classroom teachers were doing in their classroom, and the bigger standards and the bigger content areas. Also, (we wanted to) teach about art and design.

asking the classroom teachers, “What is it that you want us to support you?” They might come up with a language arts content area, or a math concept, or a science concept. In this case, we asked teachers to specifically choose math or science because we wanted to do a STEM-to-STEAM arts integration.

So each grade level, each classroom at each grade level, picked a content area. Our theater artist in residence went in and created a planet – a fictional planet based on their concepts.

So for example, we had a third grade class with a Planet of the Shapes, because they were learning shapes in geometry. Another third grade class was Food Chain in the Ocean, and so they created an entire planet that was an ocean-based planet, and all of the interactions between all of the species were based on, “Eat or Be Eaten!” These are third graders.

We had a fourth grade planet that was based on magnetism. They were studying magnets in science.

And all the way up. And meanwhile the sixth graders had a health unit where they had to learn about body systems, how a disease or an issue could attack the body, and what you could do – either medically or the body would do to defeat that health system.

So they wrote episodes for Star Trek, and those sixth graders had to use the other planets on “away missions” to solve their problems.

At the end of the year, we actually filmed three Star Trek episodes where the sixth graders were the Star Fleet. And every piece of their learning could be seen in these episodes.

Vicki: Wow.

Catherine: They’re very low tech, but…

Vicki: Where did you air them? Did you air them on YouTube, or..?

Catherine: I have a blog on WordPress

Vicki: Ohhhhh… so you’ll give us a link? So we can share them! How exciting!

Catherine: They are there. Yeah!

And so the crowning achievement – You asked, “What was the proud moment?”

The proud moment was when I was driving in my car the summer after this had happened, and I was listening to NPR, and they had a physicist from Harvard talking about – a roboticist, I think.

Anyway, so he was talking about designing these little robots that were about the size of a quarter, and how they were designed.

Because when you go to Mars, you can’t bring all the tools that you might need. And they were talking about designing these little robots that – when they’re moving around they look like little spiders, and they can actually interconnect and become larger tools.

In one of our episodes, the Planet of the Shapes, the third graders’… That was what their shapes could do.

Their shapes were these cute little shapes that liked to dance. And then they would “freeze dance,” so when they froze, they would come together and make tools.

And so the Starship went to the Planet of the Shapes because they needed tools to fix their Starship.

Vicki: Wow.

Catherine: And… I’m driving, three months later, hearing that they made robots like this.

You know, they don’t go to Mars yet, but the idea was, “How are you going to solve the problem of bringing more tools than we have the ability to carry on a space mission?”

And my third graders were thinking in terms of, “What can geometric shapes do? They can be put together to make bigger shapes.”

Vicki: Wow. What happened when they found out? Did you tell them?

Catherine: I did. I showed them the podcast when we got back in the fall.

And they were… they were really excited about that, just to think… “You know, the whole idea is that we don’t know what’s going to exist twenty years from now. But you kids actually thought of an idea that Harvard robotics scientists are thinking about now.”

Vicki: And that is what happens when we pull art into everything.

Catherine: And it was student driven. That was the cool thing, was that the students chose the content. They didn’t need a teacher telling them, “You will make a planet about this concept.” They chose the concepts.

Vicki: Awesome.

So we’ve had a Wonderful Classroom Wednesday with Catherine Davis-Hayes. Check the Shownotes for links to these Star Trek episodes. I’m very fascinated to see what those look like.

And just remember, the power of the arts is really that the arts are everywhere.

  • You can read about this project and watch the episodes on Catherine’s Blog: STEAM Trek
  • I’ve embedded videos below.

Catherine: Thank you, Vicki.

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Biography as Submitted

Cathy Davis Hayes is an elementary art teacher at Oakland Beach Elementary School in Warwick. When she was recognized as Rhode Island Teacher of the Year, she had been teaching in her position for 11 years. Cathy originally started as a commercial artist, but was motivated to become a teacher after volunteering at the Rhode Island School for the Deaf.

Cathy believes in the power of the arts to help students make connections between ideas from throughout all their areas of study, and she is passionate about enriching her students’ lives every day.

She was central to Oakland Beach Elementary’s classification as a SmART School, where arts are given a heavy focus in the curriculum. Cathy earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration from Rhode Island School of Design and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. She was Rhode Island’s 2007 State Teacher of the Year.

Twitter: @cdhayes13

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.)

The post Integrating the Arts into Every Subject appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Teaching through generations

Bluyonder Greg Whitby - 20 September, 2017 - 20:27

There’s been a positive response to the podcast series, so here’s the second instalment of bluyonder voices. As always if you like the series, please rate it on iTunes.

Robert Nastasi has taken up his first principal role at Emmaus Catholic College, Kemps Creek. As the son of Italian migrants, Robert discusses why he is imparting the same message to students that his parents imparted to him.

Categories: Planet

Small Change, Big Difference

The Principal of Change George Couros - 20 September, 2017 - 07:14

I try very hard to push myself to get into better shape, and I will have to admit, the struggle is real.  Getting older, slowing metabolism and a lack of routine in my life from being on the road has thrown me off a healthy regimen. Not excuses, but the reality I face and that I try to deal with to get into better shape daily. That being said, I am still trying, and won’t stop.  Sometimes though, I talk about how good of shape I was once in and hear myself like I am Al Bundy in “Married With Children” talking about his athletic accomplishments in high school.

Ugh…I need to stop that.

But the other day I walked into my gym and was warming up by walking around the track, and saw the new spin bikes the club had just purchased.  Here was the bike:

Now the bike was not that much different, but if you notice, there is a little tray added above the handlebars.  This simple modification caught my attention.

I got excited, took my iPhone out of my pocket, went onto YouTube, and found the first spin workout on the site, and 25 minutes later, I was dripping sweat from the hardest workout I had put myself through in years.  It was exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. My mood lifted, and even though my legs have been sore for the last few days, it is because that one workout led to better ones throughout the week.  As someone who had played team sports for years, I was reminded how much harder I worked when I am “coached” and pushed, which led to a great workout via someone pushing me on YouTube.

But what made the biggest difference was not the bike, but the cheap, little tray at the top. Being able to place my iPhone and watch a video is something I had wished for, and now it was here and made all the difference.

This is why I write about innovation being about “mindset”, in  “The Innovator’s Mindset“.  When many people think of innovation, they think of some massive idea like “Uber”, or inventing the “iPhone”, etc.  When this comes to students, the simplest tweak in any idea can make the biggest difference to a student.  I remember one student who could not focus on anything, but when she wore headphones, she was in a total zone.  It was incredible to see the difference. For some students, this would do more damage than good, but for her, it was everything.

Sometimes the smallest change can make the biggest difference to our students and ourselves.  Being innovative in education doesn’t mean you have to change the world, but sometimes the innovation, is by changing their world.

Categories: Planet

Designing Projects for Programming Students

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 20 September, 2017 - 01:18

Last night a teacher friend of mine gave me a USB stick with the projects he uses with his students. I have projects for C++, Python, Java, and Visual Basic from him. Oh and there are 60+ in each category. It’s going to take me quite some time to go through them. It’s got me thinking about projects in general though.

Keeping students interested is important when designing and assigning projects. The projects I’ve looked at from my friend and the ones I have used myself over the years seem to mostly do that. Although knowing what students a quarter your age will find interesting can be tricky.

For me a big issue is that the more interesting a project is the more programming features and functionality it usually requires. For that reason I am moving up where in the curriculum I teach reading files this year. Projects become a lot more interesting when larger amounts of data are being processed. It also means i can get some good test data in front of students.

Determining  the level of scaffolding is another trick. The projects I am looking at show a wide range of scaffolding. And that makes sense of course. In the early projects you want some solid scaffolding to avoid too much frustration. Over time as students get more comfortable with problem solving and how things work you want less. I usually have students work on a concept with me (following my demo step by step) as one way of scaffolding.

Hinting is also an issue once a project has been assigned. I’ve written about that before - Would You Like a Hint? The more interesting the project the more willing students seem to be to figure things out on their own though.

Sources for projects are an other interesting thing to think about. Some of my favorite projects have come from student suggestions. Others from textbooks. Still more for other teachers.

BTW are you sharing cool projects with others? Blogs or conference talks are both great ways to do that. Do you know about Nifty Assignments from years of SIGCSE conferences? Many of them are for more advanced students but some will work with students still at the beginner ranks.

Other sources are informal conversations like at CSTA Chapter Meetings or other events. I’ve been on a number of advisory boards for career technical programs. Those teachers have shared lots of great project ideas over the years. The Advanced Placement readings are still another great venue for sharing project ideas.  Always look for chances to learn from other teachers.

So where do you get project ideas? What makes for a good project for you?

Categories: Planet

Classroom Videos: How-to Tips and Tricks

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 19 September, 2017 - 19:10

Tim Betts on episode 152 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Videos are the modern essay. If you can’t create them, you can’t start a movement, can’t sell a product, or promote an idea. Of all the things I teach, helping kids tell digital stories through video is probably one of the most important. Today’s guest is a perfect guide for those of us who want to make videos with students. Simply put, Tim Betts rocks YouTube history. As a certified YouTube educational channel, he’s one of those that history teachers will love! But he also teaches us how to do this with students.

Perhaps my favorite words of the whole show is when he talks about what happens when you start making videos for yourself or with kids,

“Let it be horrible. Nobody starts off good. If you start off mildly cringy, you are miles ahead of where I started.”

So, listen to the show today and get started. And tweet me links to the videos you make, I’d love to see them!

Today’s Sponsor: Edpuzzle is my new favorite flipped classroom tool. You can take your videos or those from YouTube and:

  • Clip the video
  • Record your own voice over
  • Pause the video and add your voice just in certain spots
  • Add comments, multiple choice or open ended questions.

And if you click www.coolcatteacher.com/edpuzzle, Edpuzzle will give your school access to the 50,000 best lessons from Edpuzzle, organized in folders and ready to be used by teachers. Once click and you have everything you need for the year!

Listen Now

Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. All comments in the shaded green box are my own. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.


Enhanced Transcript Classroom Videos: How-to Tips and Tricks

Shownotes: www.coolcatteacher.com/e152
Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Introduction: Meet the Viral Video History Teacher – Mr. Betts!

Vicki: Oh, I had the best time recently looking at Mr. Betts’ YouTube History Channel!

You know, Timothy Betts @MrBettsClass is in the classroom, but he has more than 200 videos for American History.

So, Tim, today you’re going to share some of your secrets for making awesome YouTube videos.

Tim: Hello! Thank you for having me on the show!

How do we make amazing videos?

Vicki: Cool! So how do we start with making a really cool video?

Tim: I think you start – with making a really cool video – you start the same way that you would start any lesson. You really have to look at your objectives. What are you trying to teach your students? Just like anything else you would do.

And then, that’s when it starts getting technical. I specialize in historical parodies, songs, and other comedic videos – because I’m a full proponent of tricking kids into learning.

When they don’t know that they’re actually learning, they actually lean significantly better. So I try to figure out what’s interesting.

What do they need to know? And what’s funny? Because if it’s not those three things to me, it’s definitely not going to be the three things to them.

What makes videos popular?

Vicki: Describe for us one of your most popular videos, and what you think makes it great.

Tim: I think one of my most popular videos is my Roanoke video done to Frozen’s “Let It Go.” Mainly because I went all out on that. I got rid of all inhibitions. I went to multiple locations. I’m in the middle of the forest part of Central Park, just running around, acting as if I’m trying to find this lost colony of Roanoke. I was asking strangers to be my cameraman.

Vicki: (laughs)

Tim: Oh yeah! I ran into these two German tourists. They barely spoke any English, but I was able to convince then that I wasn’t a murderer.

Vicki: (laughs)

Tim: Even though when we were in the woods, and they ended up being my camera men and following me around. But I think what really speaks to the kids is:

A) It’s from Frozen. That’s something that they can really latch onto.

B) It’s really interesting content, because it’s… like… the first great American history mystery. What happened to the colonists at Roanoke? And then…

C) I put everything into it. I didn’t worry about looking silly. I just said, “You know what? Let me just dive into the character.”

And I think that really comes across, and it speaks to the kids. And it also makes your classroom a safer classroom for the kids to do the same thing as well – to take those academic risks and to really make bonds with the curriculum.

What about copyright?

Vicki: OK, so what about those who are sitting here thinking, “OK, you used the tune from Frozen. What about copyright?”

Tim: OH! Well, I’ll let YouTube take care of that stuff.

When I upload my videos, sometimes YouTube will say, “Hey, yeah, you can do that.” Sometimes they say, “Hey, the copyright holder wants to split it with you.” Sometimes they say, “Hey, the copyright holder just wants any kind of ad revenue you get out of that.” I didn’t really start this channel with any intention of making money off of it.

I started it because as a teacher… I started it about 4-5 years ago, when YouTube wasn’t in its infancy, but it was in its adolescence. It was still trying to shake off that whole idea of being nothing but cat videos.

I wasn’t able to find all of the educational content that I wanted. So… I just made it.

So… if the original copyright holder wants to take any AdSense I make – which is next to nothing anyway – go for it!

The main intention of the video is educating not just my students, but all students that have access to it.

Why AdSense makes sense

Vicki: Yeah. And you know, that’s one thing a lot of educators don’t understand. YouTube kind of has a way to say, “OK. We’ll let you use it,” or you have to get some ad revenue. It’s one reason to actually just turn on AdSense, even if you don’t use it. I have AdSense turned on, on my account, but it’s just really there for that particular reason – of using the music and letting it handle it for you.

How do you start students with video?

OK, so let’s say, Tim, that you were going to make a parody video or a historical video with your students. What are some of the things that you would do with them?

Tim: The first thing I would do with them is show them the process that I would go through. My process is just like any other project that they’re doing. They have to get into the research. They have to look up the topic. They have to look up the important details of it. What’s the overall impact? And then start from there.

Then, if they’re doing a historical parody song – which some of my students do – we actually have an American Speaks Pageant in which they incorporate music into it as well.

Then they would start looking around. A lot of people ask, “What comes first – the song, the lyrics?” And, you know what? It changes every single time. It’s just… whatever feels right happens.

Sometimes a catchy chorus, your mind just flips those words in. And then sometimes, you have everything you want to say, and then you’re looking around.

Actually, one of the things I do, about twice a month, is I just go on YouTube. I look at what are the 20 most popular songs of the month. I know that’s going to be more accessible to the kids — if I can make my content into their songs.

But then, with that, I put them in a right direction – rhymezone.com

Vicki: Oh, I love that site! I use it too!

Tim: Rhymezone – it is the best! Yeah, when you’ve kind of painted yourself into a corner…

Vicki: (laughs)

Tim: … And you’re like, “What rhymes with ‘patriot’? Oh no!” And then you go there, and actually it’s a good English lesson as well because you learn about the true rhymes. And you learn about slant rhymes.

Just being able to use language, and how you use it, it really incorporates a lot of English language skills that you wouldn’t normally put in here.

And also, kids have such access to technology. I am so jealous of my students! Like refrigerators have cameras in them now! I remember being a kid, and I wasn’t allowed to touch like the giant camcorder, which was basically a VCR that you put on your shoulder.

And now they’re constantly walking around with cameras!

Vicki: (agrees)

The success he feels from making videos

Tim: So, just letting them know that they can do this. This is really accessible!

And the most successful projects I like to do with my 7th graders with American History every year is to just shoe them the basic green screen function in their iMovie – which comes standard with every single Mac.

I have them do a historical blog, where they have to look up a topic, create a character, and then just speak and make a video as if they’re that character, talking about whatever they’ve been assigned to talk about.

And it’s really, really cool. Because not only do they get into character – I do it relatively early in the year – and then I start seeing them do that in other classes throughout the year.

And they’re going, “Mr. Betts, do you have any more of that green paper that we can use? We have a science project coming up… or an English project.”

And that’s when I know that not just the content of what I was teaching was successful, but the skills of what I was teaching was successful.

Vicki: So real quick… Give us a rundown of your equipment. It sounds like you have Macs, and you use iMovie. What other equipment do you use in the process of making your movies?

Tim: Yeah, my students have those. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m more of a Windows-based guy.

Vicki: Oh well, you just told everybody! (laughs)

Tim: Yeah. I use the Adobe Suite throughout. I use Premiere Pro for my video editing. I use Audition for any audio editing. When I’m making thumbnails or different images, I’ll use Photoshop.

But it doesn’t matter! Equipment does not matter. Whether you get a PC or whether you get a Mac, there’s Windows MovieMaker or there’s iMovie. There is so much free software out there to allow you to make these kinds of creations.

Tip with videos: Start horrible!

Another thing — the first one you make is going to be horrible!

Vicki: Yup! (laughs)

Tim: Let it be horrible. Nobody starts off good. If you start off only slightly cringy, you’re miles ahead of where I started.

Vicki: (laughs)

Tim: But, you know, I think it’s important to us as teachers that we go out and take risks, and teach ourselves new skills, so we’re growing as well. It gets really monotonous, sometimes teaching the same subject matter over and over again.

You kind of fall into a repetition. You should be looking back on your lessons, to go, “This lesson in this unit? I want to do a total overhaul on this one, throw a whole bunch of resources into there, and allow myself to grow as a professional. Let me try something new.”

Why you should consider making videos in class

Vicki: OK. Tim, as we finish up… You have 20 seconds to give us a pep talk about why we should consider making videos in our class.

Tim: You should be making videos in your class because your kids are addicted to videos. That’s the way that they learned. Especially if you’re in a history class, but any class that has any kind of story. We love stories. We spend billions and billions of dollars a year watching stories, reading stories, listening to stories. These are the tools that will allow your kids to make these stories and show that they really understand what you’re teaching them.

Vicki: OK, teachers. Get out there and let descend upon YouTube. I have a YouTube channel. Do you?

Tim: Yes I do! It’s www.youtube.com/mrbettsclass

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford

Biography as Submitted

Tim Betts is the creator of MrBettsClass, a certified YouTube EDU channel dedicated to making fun and informative videos about history. Https://youtube.com/mrbettsclass

MrBettsClass musical parodies and comic videos have been used in classrooms around the world. With nearly 200 videos focused mainly on American history topics, MrBettsClass has helped teachers, students, and other learners laugh and learn over 3.5 million times. Betts is preparing to do it all over again by launching a brand new school year of content on August 24th, publishing new content every Thursday until the school year’s end.

Channel: www.youtube.com/mrbettsclass

Twitter @mrbettsclass

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.)

The post Classroom Videos: How-to Tips and Tricks appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Congressional App Challenge Launches Today

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 19 September, 2017 - 01:12
Something that looks interesting at least in Congressional Districts where there is a sponsor. Visit the web site to check it out.

Congressional App Challenge Launches Today!

It begins today! The third annual Congressional App Challenge (CAC) has now launched and will run through November 1, 2017. The CAC is a congressional initiative to encourage student engagement in coding and computer science through local app challenges hosted by the Members of Congress. This year, there are over 165 Members of Congress signed up to participate!

The CAC aims to bridge the gender, geographic, and racial gaps in tech. In its first two years, the program yielded 239 challenges across 33 states. Over 1,150 apps were created by nearly 4,000 students, and participant demographics surpassed all industry diversity metrics, with young women representing 30% of all competitors. This year, the Congressional App Challenge will strive to build upon those numbers.

During the next 14 weeks, thousands of students in participating Congressional districts will create and submit their own original applications, that will be evaluated by panels of local judges.The Members of Congress will announce the winners during Computer Science Education Week in early December. Winners will be honored by their Member of Congress. More prizes will be announced throughout the Challenge.

The CAC was created because Congress recognizes how essential computer science and STEM skills are for economic growth and innovation, and that the U.S. is currently experiencing a dearth of adequately trained technical talent. By some estimates there are nearly a quarter of a million unfilled programming jobs in the US, right now. The CAC is a congressional effort to maintain American competitiveness, by proactively inspiring our youth and encouraging them to pursue these crucial skills.

The Challenge owes gratitude to Representatives Bob Goodlatte and Anna G. Eshoo, co-chairs of the Congressional Internet Caucus, who requested and supported the creation of the CAC. Challenge execution is supported by the efforts of our Advisory Board, which includes the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, the Computer Science Teachers Association, Girls Who Code, Hispanic Heritage Foundation, Capital One, and Cisco, as well as a broad coalition of CS-focused partners.

For more information about the Congressional App Challenge, please visit CongressionalAppChallenge.us. If you are interested getting involved or in supporting the Congressional App Challenge, please contact our Director, Rachel Decoste, at rdecoste@congressionalappchallenge.us.

Categories: Planet

Unleashing the Potential of Every Child #MondayMotivation

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 18 September, 2017 - 19:42

Tom Loud on episode 151 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Tom Loud dropped out of high school because he didn’t connect with his teachers. Somehow, he connected with books though and became a high school and college graduate. Now, Tom is a 10-year classroom veteran who is working to make his classroom (and help others) connect with kids in new ways. Today we’ll talk about unleashing the potential in every child. And yes, you’ll hear birds chirping, but that is ok!

Today’s Sponsor: Edpuzzle is my new favorite flipped classroom tool. You can take your videos or those from YouTube and:

  • Clip the video
  • Record your own voice over
  • Pause the video and add your voice just in certain spots
  • Add comments, multiple choice or open ended questions.

And if you click www.coolcatteacher.com/edpuzzle, Edpuzzle will give your school access to the 50,000 best lessons from Edpuzzle, organized in folders and ready to be used by teachers. Once click and you have everything you need for the year!

Listen Now

Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. All comments in the shaded green box are my own. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.


Enhanced Transcript Unleashing the Potential of Every Child

Shownotes: www.coolcatteacher.com/e151
Monday, September 18, 2017

Vicki: Today we’re talking to Tom Loud @loudlearning about unleashing the potential of students.

What Tom Learned when he quit high school his junior year

Vicki: So Tom, let’s start with the story about why you got into teaching in the first place.

Tom: In high school, I think I failed more classes than I passed, and I had a terrible experience. By the end of my junior year, I had reached a GPA of a 1.8, and at the end of that year, I just knew it would be my last year in public school.

And in fact, it was.

But through a series of circumstances, I became a college graduate seven years after that. And I’ve been in the classroom now for ten years.

I went into education for two reasons.

The first reason was that I could be the teacher that I never felt I had.

And the second reason is that I could ensure that no child would ever experience the educational journey and experience that I did.

How do we unleash the potential in every child?

Vicki: So Tom, with that being your story, what is your advice to us to help unleash the potential of every child?

Tom: I think, number one, it starts with relationships. We have to build that relationship with kids first. I heard the quote that,

“No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship.” (James Comer, 1995)

I really think that’s true.

But the second thing that we can do as teachers is we can put on the mindset that we are never going to quit on kids. I think it goes back to where the pacing of our teaching has to be determined by the learning of our kids, not by a calendar.

Third, I think that we have to be super patient with kids. Don’t give easier work or fail kids when they’re not understanding, when they’re not learning at the pace that we hope they are. As a teacher, I do think we have to show grit and perseverance with kids and present learning in multiple ways. Failing kids is a direct indicator more of the quality of our teaching, I think than the ability of our kids.

Vicki: Oh, but you know, Tom… Teaching’s hard!

And it’s exhausting to reach the kids who struggle.

Tom: (agrees)

What were the biggest mistakes Tom teachers made?

Vicki: What do you think the biggest mistake is that some of your teachers made when you were that kid who struggled in your junior year?

Tom: I think it goes back to what I was saying about the relationships. I think that I just didn’t have that connection with the teachers. I felt like I was more of a test score, and learning was on the back burner. The test was more of the focus of the teachers, instead of my potential.

What did Tom learn from that now that he’s a teacher?

Vicki: Do you feel like you have a different relationship with your students? Can you give me an example of where you tried to be that teacher that you never had, and it did make a difference?

Tom: I think the biggest thing with me is the patience thing – to where we just don’t quit. And I don’t quit. But the funny thing about it is that every day, even though I know it’s worth it with these kids… some days, like everybody, I don’t necessarily “feel it.”  And when I don’t feel it, I have to continually remind myself that staying motivated and keeping that passion burning is a choice that I have to make.

Yeah, I think the biggest thing with me, with my students now, based on my experience as a student, is the patience that I show. I just don’t give up on kids.

How does Tom motivate himself when he has a down day?

Vicki: So, take me inside your brain when you’re having that down day, and you’re like, “I’m exhausted.” What does the self-talk say to yourself when you just don’t know how you’re going to do it?

Tom: You know, I read a really good book lately by a professor at UT at Knoxville, from Dr. Amy Broemmel. And the book is called Learning to be Teacher Leaders. In the book, she identified three characteristics of the really great teachers.

Those three characteristics are:

  1. Great teachers are unorthodox.
  2. They go against the organizational grain.
  3. They always pose a threat to the status quo.

So, when I’m having those down days, and I don’t necessarily “feel” it? I have to keep that mindset of the great teachers in mind and just “put on” those characteristics.

Vicki: You know, it frustrates me though. Why can’t the status quo just be AWESOME, for everybody?

Tom: (laughs) Yeah! It should be! But you know, we’re creatures of feeling and emotion. And so we can’t always necessarily stay on that high, but we just have to stay as motivated as we can and keep the needs of kids first.

Vicki: You know, Tom, I do find that the self-talk – you know, what you say to yourself when you’re down?

Tom: Yep.

Vicki: We’re our own best motivational speaker, aren’t we?

Tom: We are. You’re right.

Why did Tom’s life turn around?

Vicki: And you’ve got that experience when you were a kid… to kind of think back, and relate, and understand yours, don’t you?

Tom: I do. Yeah, and you know for me, the big turnaround for me was – number one —  maturity. I had reached 18 years by the end of my junior year. So maturity was a big turnaround for me, but also there was all this frustration that I’d built up. I knew I was better than what my test scores were showing and I knew that I wasn’t only worthy of success, but I was able, too.

So, I heard a quote at the end of my junior year of high school, right on the verge of when I was quitting school. The quote was by Charles “Tremendous” Jones, and the quote said,

“The difference between who we are as a person today, and who we will be in five years is determined by the books we read and the people we meet.”

So it was really at that time, that self-talk really kicked up a notch. I really became a student of success.

One of the first books I read on success was by a guy named Jack Canfield, who started the Chicken Soup for Soul book series. But he wrote a book called The Success Principles, and one of the first pages in the book had a quote by Thomas Edison that said,

“If we really knew what we were capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.”

Ever since that day, I’ve really been trying to find out what I’m capable of.

Vicki: You know, I also love what you do… My pastor, Michael Catt, says that

“Leaders are readers, and readers are leaders.”

Tom: (agrees, laughs)

Vicki: You have quoted several books. This is Motivation Monday. One big way to motivate ourselves is to really have that self-talk but to also get quotes that resonate with us.

I mean, I’m looking at my office wall, and it has quotes all over it. You know, what do we say to ourselves? And what kind of books do we pour into our mind to help us stay motivated to do this job?

Tom: You know, I think one of the best ways in 2017 is to meet new people, and to really have good access to quality of text in front of us… is Twitter.

Vicki: (agrees)

Tom: I don’t think enough teachers are on Twitter. But just something simple and easy as that can really provide us with exposure to great minds.

Vicki: Speaking of Twitter, we have cute little birds tweeting in the background that may or may not get edited out.

Tom: (laughs)

Vicki: I just think that’s kind of ironic to me.

Tom: Right?

Look at the Motive behind our Motivation

Vicki: But Tom, as we finish up, give us a 30-second pep talk about how to stay motivated this week in our classrooms.

Tom: I think we have to look at the root word of “motivation.” That root word is “motive” … We have to stay focused even when we don’t feel like it, about why we do what we do. The main reason we do what we do is because:

1.  Kids deserve it.

  1. Kids are capable… and able… of far more than we can ever imagine or think.

But the main reason? They deserve it. They deserve our best. And they’re worth it.

Vicki: They are!

So teachers, get out there. Be remarkable this week.

And I love, in particular, what Tom said. I’m going to hang onto this – that the root word of “motivation” is “motive” …

Remember your motive. Why are you doing this?

Right now, if you’ve lost your noble motive, try to get that back. Try to remember that we’re in the life-changing business.

We’re not just teachers. We teach people how to live lives. We unleash human potential. We have got an incredible profession, full of meaning. It may be not full of earthly riches, but definitely full of meaning and full of legacy.

So get out there and be remarkable this week!

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford

Biography as Submitted

Tom Loud is first-grade teacher at Middlesettlements Elementary in Tennessee. He also serves as a Technology Teacher Leader at Middlesettlements and was recently recognized as Technology Teacher of the year along with Innovative Teacher of the Year by his district.

In addition, Loud was one of 50 Teachers in Tennessee selected to participate in an Educator Fellowship through SCORE, (The State Collaborative on Reforming Education), an independent, nonprofit, and nonpartisan advocacy and research institution that drives collaboration on policy and practice to ensure student success across Tennessee. Loud’s passions are technology integration in the elementary grades, along with teacher motivation.

Twitter: @loudlearning

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.)

The post Unleashing the Potential of Every Child #MondayMotivation appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Two Things That All Parents Want for Their Children

The Principal of Change George Couros - 18 September, 2017 - 06:58

I have been using the above to really help my focus in workshops with not only parents but educators, to get them on the same page.

You often hear many educators say that parents want the same experience for their children that they had in school, but I disagree. I really believe that parents want kids to have the best experience in schools, and they see their experience as the best, because they don’t know any other experience.  Showing parents, and more importantly, having them experience what their kids are doing in school, can shift thinking.

If you are having students blog, why not have parents have a blogging night?

If you are promoting maker spaces in schools, have parents come in and experience the same thing?

If you are doing BreakoutEDU with your students, have them come in and do it with parents?

It is much easier to bring parents in on these experiences than ever before because these opportunities are much more participatory.

My belief is that parents want these two things for their kids (minimum); they want them to be safe and they want them to have every opportunity for them to be successful.

Yet, when I ask the question of many educators and parents, “Have you ever heard a child say that they want to be a ‘YouTuber’?”, they laugh.  Why not help create the opportunity instead of squash the aspiration?

I can understand that going into some of these spaces can be scary, but ignoring them isn’t going to help. We also have to understand that our childhood is not their childhood.

Just like other parents, I want my daughter to be safe AND have every opportunity in the world.  I just have to understand that the time she is growing up in looks a lot different from the time that I did.

Categories: Planet

Making Time for Quiet Contemplation — The Learner's Way

Classroom 2.0 Diigo Group - 17 September, 2017 - 18:08


  • In our busy and highly connected lives it can be difficult to find time to slow down, to deliberately and mindfully engage in reflective contemplation. Taking the time to do so can be significant for success, creativity, mental well-being and learning and yet we seem to struggle to commit time to this valuable practice. Schools, in particular seem to offer little time for students to slow down and think, and with the busy lives students lead such time is often entirely absent. - Nigel Coutts

Tags: education, teaching, learning, contemplation, time

by: Nigel Coutts

Categories: International News

Help Autistic Kids Travel by Making Ability Guidebooks

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 17 September, 2017 - 10:51

Brett Bigham on episode 147 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Autistic children can struggle with unfamiliar places. However, one teacher of the year has found a way to help improve traveling experiences for autistic children and their families. Brett Bigham has created a way to use books to help special needs and young children prepare to go to new places. Learn about this technique and how to help children travel who may have fears. You can even make books for kids (or some older students might be able to as well.) What a life-changing concept! Ability books for those with special needs.

Book Creator for Chrome. Previously on the 10-Minute Teacher, guests have mentioned Book Creator as one of their top apps for the iPad. Well, now we can all use Book Creator in our classrooms using the Chrome web browser. Make books, send the link to parents and even include audio and video. This is a perfect idea for special ed teachers and parents who want to use today’s show and make books Book Creator will let you record audio and video AND share the link with parents. As a teacher, you can get started with a library of 40 books as part of their free version – go to coolcatteacher.com/bookcreator to get started now. This is great news! Now we can all use Book Creator in our classrooms, on any device, using the Chrome web browser. Listen Now

Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. All comments in the shaded green box are my own. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.


Enhanced Transcript

Vicki: Today we’re talking with Brett Bigham @2014ortoy, AKA “Mr. B” who was Oregon Teacher of the Year 2014.

Brett, your love and passion has been kids with special needs, for quite some time. And you work with older kids who have special needs, so we’re going to talk a little bit about a way that you helped kids with special needs kind of transition to other places. So, give me an example of something you’ve done.

How Brett helped his autistic and special needs kids take field trips each week

Brett: I worked with students who were ages 18-21, for quite a while, and a lot of my students had pretty severe autism. My classroom’s a county level classroom. So I was only getting students if the local district couldn’t handle their health or their behavior. I had two full-time nurses in my room and a very busy class.

So, what I started to discover was that when I took some of those kids with severe autism out on a field trip, they were melting down. They really couldn’t stand not knowing what was coming up.

So I kind of realized, “Well, I need to fix that,” instead of deciding they should go on field trips. I decided I have to modify what I’m doing. So I started going the week before to the event or the field trip we were going on. And we went out every Friday. It was part of our program, to get our students more used to being out in the community.

So if we were going to ride on the Portland Tram, I would go the weekend before and take pictures of every step. “These are the stairs you go in, this is the door you open, this is the ticket machine,” — every step they need to do the field trip.

I’d make a book. I’d print the pictures into the book, and then write all the steps. Then we would spend the week going over what was coming up.

They’re similar to a “social story,” which a lot of people who work with autism will see, like, “I’m Going to the Doctor” or a trip, or how to go. And they’re step-by-step, but they’re very generic. And I needed specifics.

I had to show the staircase they were going to walk up. I had to show them the signs they needed to look at to find the arrows of where to go. So, I just started doing them in my own room.

How one family was finally able to go on vacation

And after a while, one of my students that really needed these had what’s called Severe Self-Injurious Behavior. She would hit herself when she became upset. It was so terrible to see. It was the worst day of my career the first time she had one of these episodes. The year before I got her, she was sent home 34 times for that. The first year I had her, we had three incidents. Two of them were right at the beginning, and I started using the books. The next year she had zero. And the next year she had zero.

And her family started going on vacations. They had never gone on a trip in their entire life with her, and they were able to go to Hawaii. I made a book, “I’m Going to Hawaii,” and was able to go online and find vacation pictures from people.

And people took pictures of everything, so I got the inside of the plane so I could show her, “This is the inside of the plane you’re going to go on.” And they were actually the Aloha Airlines logos, but a plane stuffed with people. A lot of times, you know, you can get a picture of the airplane, but it’s empty. And this was crammed full, so she knew exactly what to expect.

And when her parents got back from the trip, their life was changed. Absolutely changed. They didn’t have a single incident the whole time.

And now that student has graduated. And when I met her, she was someone – they were trying to figure out how they could make a life for this young lady – one that meant she never had to leave her house. And when she left me, she got a job, and she goes to work five days a week. Her whole family’s life is changed from it.

How Brett puts pictures together

Vicki: So, you take the pictures. Do you have a technology you use to put these books together?

Brett: I do it in two different ways. I make a printout version that you can just look at on your computer and print out. And then I use Microsoft Sway because they have a feature where I can record the book. And that can also be used on the phone. So someone could take the phone, and push a button, and it will read it to them.

I’ve just started recording them. I only have one of them done. I have 45 books at this point.

  • Editor’s Note: Today’s Sponsor Book Creator has all of these features as well. You can start now with 40 free books to create for your kids. Go to: coolcatteacher.com/bookcreator
How to Find the books

Vicki: Wow. Can people get them online? Can you give a link?

Brett: They are. They are all online, but sadly, most of them are only in places where I’ve been. So, I have quite a few books for Washington D.C., because I’m there for conferences. I have Portland, Oregon, where I’m from. Last year I was at the NNSTOY Conference in Chicago, and we took in the Chicago Art Institute, so they have a book. So, it kind of depends where I go. But I go a lot of places these days.

Vicki: And so they can tweet you to ask you to – if they have a special request?

Brett: Absolutely. You know, I would love to do that. Or I would help somebody in another state. If they said, “I really… I need to make this for my student.” I would walk them through every step, and then I would hope that they’d let me put them on my blog. It’s MrBsClassroom.com, and they’re all on there.

What happened, though, since I have had this opportunity to go out and speak, I’ve made books now for eleven countries. So, I’m starting to collect people who can translate. I have an Italian mom who has a son with autism, and she’s translating all the books I wrote for Italy into Italian.

So my outreach is – I’ll do the best I can, which is an English book on how to go to visit the Coliseum, when I went. But it’s in English, so it helps somebody who speaks English who can go to the Coliseum, but this housewife is making it a tool for every person with autism in Italy. And that’s my dream.

How do you use the books with children?

Vicki: So you have the book. You show it to the child. You talk it through. So, describe what you do, once you have the book in hand, when you’re sitting down. You’re sitting down one-on-one with the child for this?

Brett: I’ve done both. You know, with the whole classroom, showing them. And then I’ll sit with a student, and we’ll just go page by page, and like this is… You know, I read the book to them and point at the picture and say, “We’re going to go here, and these are the stairs that we’re going to go up. You don’t need to be worried about that.” In the books, I always focus on “This is a safe place. Stay with your group.”

But I always show pictures – at least one in every book, I think, of someone sitting down on a chair somewhere – where I say, “If it gets to be too much, you can just sit down and rest for a minute. You don’t need to get upset. Just have a minute. Take a moment. Have a seat.”

Vicki: And you show them a place where they can sit…

Brett: Exactly.

Vicki: Ohhhh, so you’re giving them an out. You’re saying, “OK.” In some ways it’s metacognition. “OK, I realize I’m getting tired. So I’m going to ask to sit over here.”

Brett: Absolutely. And that way, they don’t have to stress out because someone doesn’t understand what they want. They can show me in the book. “I’m ready to sit down.” It gives them a way to communicate back, or maybe even to ask a simple type of question about the outing.

Vicki: This is genius. I mean, it’s just beautiful.

Helping kids and people with the fear of the unknown

Brett: But it’s not genius. It’s so… You know, once I realized that these people who have such a… That autism comes in so many different shades and varieties and… But the people who have that fear of the unknown, and the transition problems… Once I just took a moment to sit down and say, “Well, how do I fix that?” And it was a simple fix. They just need to know. But I had to figure out a way to get them to know.

And I feel sorry for my friends. I’m always – my poor partner – I’m always tricking them. “Hey, let’s go to breakfast downtown.” Then while we’re down there, I’m like, “Well, while we’re here, let’s go down by the Tram. I need to take some pictures. So you know, all my friends have been in books, and course they always say OK. How do you say no to that?

Vicki: Yeah, because I want to help a child who really needs the help.

Brett: Absolutely.

Vicki: So… we’re going to put the link to the blog in the Shownotes.

Brett: Thank you.

Vicki: And do you have on your blog instructions for teachers who want to create books like you’ve done?

Brett: I haven’t done that, because nobody’s asked for it yet.

Vicki: I’m asking! (laughs)

Brett: You know what?

Vicki: I think people are going to want to know how to do that!

We need more travel books for children who struggle with fears of the unknown

Brett: If there’s a teacher who thinks that this is the answer to helping one of their students, I will do everything they need to help. If they can take the pictures for me, I can write the book for them. I haven’t done that yet, but I keep hoping I will have to. I’m trying to be the guy who takes the snowball at the top of the hill and pushes it. Because I can. It’s taken me twelve years to do 45 books. And that’s… that’s not enough. You know, I want… I want every Smithsonian Museum on the mall to have a book. And every important place, and every city… I want them to have a book, because, without them, people who have these issues with the transition will never get to go. Or if they go, it won’t be successful.

Vicki: So it just opens up a great opportunity for those with autism to be able to go places. It’s a great strategy.

Brett: Right. And if you have a listener who decided, you know, this is what my daughter needs. And they want to make a book, what I will do then is I’ll take that book and put that on my blog, and maybe help them find somewhere locally where they can do it so that the people in their community can share the book. And if ten people just do one book, then your community has the support it needs. I’ve done twelve for Portland, and it makes it one of the most accessible cities in the United States for people with this autism

Vicki: So what do you call these books?

Brett: I call them Ability Guidebooks.

Vicki: Ability Guidebooks… So, teachers, this is a remarkable idea. Ability Guidebooks for those with autism, or transition issues. And you know there are lots of kids who could benefit from this. I’ll include the blog, so you can go there.

Did you want to add something, Brett?

Brett: You were saying other students… I had never thought about that. I was thinking of my own kids at first, and what I started to get were messages from kindergarten and first grade teachers saying, “We were going on a field trip to the art museum, and I used your book to show my eight-year-olds exactly how to behave in the museum.” And it makes a world of difference because they see what’s expected beforehand.

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford

Biography as Submitted

Brett Bigham is the only Oregon special education teacher to be named Teacher of the Year or to be awarded the NEA National Award for Excellence in Education. He was named a NEA Foundation Global Fellow in 2015 and is one of only a handful of teachers to be given that honor again for 2018 where he will travel to South Africa as a representative of U.S. teachers.

Blog: www.mrbsclassroom.com

Twitter: @2014ortoy


Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.)

The post Help Autistic Kids Travel by Making Ability Guidebooks appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Illustrating the Difference Between Bandwidth and Latency

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 16 September, 2017 - 03:35

Earlier this week my AP CS Principles classes were discussing the difference between latency and bandwidth. My curriculum resource (I’m using the curriculum from code.org) describes these two words like this:

  • Bandwidth - Transmission capacity measure by bit rate
  • Latency - Time it takes for a bit to travel from its sender to its receiver.

These are useful descriptions but how to make that real for students? Today I found two great examples of high bandwidth but low latency.

One was in the form of this graphic on the right. The latency is slow. It takes a lot of time for the pigeon to fly to the other site. So moving one bit or even byte at a time would not be a good idea. On the other hand since all the data gets to the destination at the same time the bandwidth is high. The story is a bit dated but still interesting.

I shared that graphic on Facebook and a friend of mine who works for Amazon Web Services pointed me to a more current story.

Amazon’s Snowmobile is Actually a Truck Hauling a Large Hard Drive

From the article:

“Using multiple semis to shuttle data around might seem like overkill. But for such massive amounts of data, hitting the open road is still the most efficient way to go. Even with a one gigabit per-second connection such as Google Fiber, uploading 100 petabytes over the internet would take more than 28 years. At an average speed of 65 mph, on the other hand, you could drive a Snowmobile from San Francisco to New York City in about 45 hours—about 4,970 gigabits per second.”

Now that is a story that speaks to moving really large amounts of data. And again, showing the difference between latency and bandwidth.

Categories: Planet

Get Motivated to Do Project based Learning the Right Way #pbl

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 15 September, 2017 - 21:05

Ross Cooper on episode 146 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Ross Cooper, co-author of Hacking PBL, helps us get motivated to think about project based learning differently.

Book Creator for Chrome. Previously on the 10-Minute Teacher, guests have mentioned Book Creator as one of their top apps for the iPad. Well, now we can all use Book Creator in our classrooms using the Chrome web browser. Make books, send the link to parents and even include audio and video. As a teacher, you can get started with a library of 40 books as part of their free version – go to coolcatteacher.com/bookcreator to get started now. This is great news! Now we can all use Book Creator in our classrooms, on any device, using the Chrome web browser. Listen Now

Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. All comments in the shaded green box are my own. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.

The book competition will be added here as soon as it goes live.


Enhanced Transcript Get Motivated to Do Project based Learning the Right Way

Shownotes: www.coolcatteacher.com/e146
Monday, September 11, 2017

How do we hack project base learning?

Vicki: Happy Monday Motivation! We’re talking to Ross Cooper @RossCoops31, coauthor of Hacking Project Based Learning, about how we can get motivated to rock Project Based Learning in our classrooms.

So, Ross, what’s new and different, and how can we hack Project Based Learning?

Ross: I think when we talk about Project Based Learning sometimes it’s really abstract. You know, maybe we’ve heard about it, there’s a teacher down the hallway who’s doing this great job with it, and you’re like, “How the heck did that happen?” So what we tried to do in our book – and that’s the book that I co-authored with Erin Murphy, who’s now a middle school assistant principal – what we really tried to do was break it down, and as much as possible give teachers a step-by-step process in regard to how it can be done. So, rather than looking at it abstractly, we hack in by looking at the different components and focusing in on those.

How do we motivate ourselves and our schools to do project-based learning that really works?

Vicki: Well, you know, sometimes people say, “Oh, that’s a project,” or “Oh, that’s a project, and what are they learning?” What’s your advice about how we can get motivated to do Project Based Learning that really works?

Ross: Sometimes when we think about Project Based Learning, we think about it in terms of black and white, Vicki, so it’s either we’re not doing it and we are doing it. When we look at those different components of Project Based Learning – it might be creating a culture of inquiry, explicitly teaching collaboration skills, giving effective feedback – these are all things that can take place with or without full blown Project Based Learning, right? It’s just best practice and best learning that’s in the best interest of our students.

So, I think a lot of times when teachers see the different components of Project Based Learning when it’s broken down for them, it’s really motivating because it’s like, “Oh my gosh! I’m already doing part of that! That’s already taking place in my classroom. My students are benefiting from this. We’re already on the way there. We just need to fine-tune what we’re doing a little bit to make it full blown PBL.”

I think for a lot of teachers, that’s really motivating because you’re not really throwing out the baby with the bath water, right? It’s not one of those things where we’re like, “Everything you’ve been doing for the past five years is wrong. You need to do this instead.” It’s like, “No, you’re doing a lot of things right! We just need to tweak it to promote more inquiry, to promote more student-centered learning, and to promote more relevant learning for our students.”

The difference between “projects’ and project-based learning

Vicki: So, you’re trying to get past just – I mean, I’ve seen projects where people are just like, “They’re copying from Wikipedia,” or “They’re just searching and pasting facts on a page.” You’re really trying to get past that, in asking us, “Are we promoting inquiry, are we promoting collaboration, are we really having effective feedback?” I mean, is that where you’re trying to go with those?”

Ross: Yeah, exactly. So a lot of times – when I first started doing Project Based Learning in professional development a handful of years ago – it was kind of this whole idea of throwing out the baby with the bathwater like I just said. It was, “OK, this is what Project Based Learning is. This is what we’re going to shoot for.”

What I have found is – and you hinted at this, Vicki — is the difference between projects and Project Based Learning. A lot of teachers already are doing projects, right? So if we just make it very clear that, “OK, you’re doing projects. Here’s where Project Based Learning is. Let’s build on top of what you’re already doing. So we go from projects to PBL. You’re being respectful of what the teacher is already doing. You’re not throwing out the baby with the bath water. You’re meeting them where they are. In short, the difference between projects and Project Based Learning (and you mentioned this) is inquiry, right? Rather than covering content, it’s just uncovering of content – which then leads to a deeper understanding. But also, with a project, it’s almost like – you know, the traditional project, it’s like the cherry on top, right?

Vicki: Yeah.

Ross: As a result of that, it’s like, “OK. Good job. Now you get to make a poster or website or a hangar mobile or whatever product it might be.” And maybe you have everybody in the classroom making the same product. Whereas if it’s Project Based Learning, you’re learning through the project. So that project in itself is the learning. It is the unit. By the time students and teachers are done with it, the learning has taken place.

An example of projects vs. project-based learning

Vicki: Could you give me an example of a project versus Project Based Learning?

Ross: The Project Based Learning experience that we talked about in the book is students building pinball machines. They learn about electricity and magnetism and force in motion while building pinball machines. So we went out to Home Depot. We got electrical circuits, we got wires, we got bulbs, we got wood. We used drills, hammers, all that great stuff. And we built pinball machines while learning about electricity and magnetism and force in motion.

So, they did lots of these little mini experiments, some of which were taken from the textbook, but because they were done within the context of that pinball machine (that authentic context) it was that much more powerful for them.

That’s diving into STEM a little bit – you know Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics – so rather than getting kind of… You know, sometimes you see these STEM activities. I’m going off on a little bit of a tangent here, but sometimes when you see those STEM activities, it’s like STEM in a box, right? And it’s like these step-by-step directions, and it’s “errorless,” right? “If you followed the directions, you’re going to have this great finished product.” Then the emphasis is on the product and not the process. So I think sometimes we have to be careful of those STEM in a box activities, or at least reinvent them to promote inquiry.

That’s an example of a Project Based Learning experience. Anything can be a project, you know, the traditional project that we’ve done. So a lot of times what I’m doing for professional development on PBL, we’ll use the brochure, the traditional travel brochure. “OK, now that we’ve learned about this state, now that we’ve researched it, we’re going to (kind of what you alluded to) we’re going to copy-paste all of this information into a brochure to show off our fancy products for like maybe Meet the Teacher Night or Open House or something like that. And really all that is – it’s information dump, right? You’re taking information from one place, you’re putting it into another, and it looks great, but really – did it promote much thought on the part of the student?

Productive struggle versus “sucking the life” out of a project

Vicki: OK, what are some questions that teachers can ask themselves to kind of help themselves move from projects to Project Based Learning? When we look at our work for the upcoming school year, what should we be asking ourselves so that we can get further and better? I think we’re all shifting to where we want to help kids think and not just regurgitate, right?

Ross: (agrees) I think sometimes, like even when we’re, like you hit the nail right on the head, when we’re delivering this professional development. It’s like, “OK, we need to get our students to think.” Alright? And it’s like we’re not really being clear. We think we are, but we’re really not. Sometimes we have to be even more explicit. I call it, “being explicit about being explicit.” We need to just dig down deeper and be as explicit as possible to give those key strategies.

About a month or so ago, I was in a teacher’s classroom. It was a science teacher. He was a great teacher. He was doing a science experiment with his students, and he said to the students, “As a result of doing this experiment, you’re going to find out X, Y, and Z.” Right? So immediately, the inquiry is sucked out of the project, it’s sucked out of the experiment, or the unit or whatever he’s doing, because he’s telling students what they’re going to understand. So that’s the definition of coverage rather than uncovering the content.

So sometimes it’s just the matter that those entry points in getting ready for PBL or inquiry is just shifting the order in which we do things. So rather than telling students that as a result of this experiment or unit or activity, you’re going to find this out, it’s shifting the order and putting that purposeful play first, letting the students engage in that productive struggle first, and then coming together.

And that can be scary, too, right? Because that could be scary because that productive struggle – some students aren’t used to it, and maybe even more significantly, some teachers aren’t used to it. So if a teacher’s going to do that, it’s important to convey to your students that, “OK, this productive struggle is an important part of the learning process. It doesn’t mean that you’re messing up.” But putting that productive struggle first, and taking that direct instruction and moving it to the back.”

Essential questions versus essential answers

Vicki: They tell us to share our central questions, but it sounds like maybe in that case the teacher may have shared the essential answers, right?

Ross: (laughs) Yeah, yeah. Exactly. I think any time you can turn ownership over to the students, it’s a great thing. So even when you’re crafting the essential questions as you get more and more comfortable with it, even when I taught fourth grade by the end of the year my students would be crafting those essential questions. They would all come up with these essential questions, and then they would plug them into a Google form, and then we would have a vote as to which one was the best for their respective unit.

But I think really taking that, thinking about the order in which we do things and moving that discussion and that direct instruction to the back as far as possible is really a great thing to do. Even when we’re doing professional development with teachers, you know I always say, “No teacher said they wanted to make a shift because [insert famous researcher here] said so.” Right?

You shift because you feel that it’s what’s best for your students, and then maybe the research comes after. But if you’re doing PD and you’re leading with that direct instruction or you’re leading with that research, you’re going to get a lot of boredom and teachers who probably don’t want to move forward.

30-second pep talk for effectively using project-based learning

Vicki: So Ross, give us a 30-second pep talk about why we as teachers should shift from projects to Project Based Learning.

Ross: I think when you think about all of these things that we focus on in school, there’s a school idea of “initiative fatigue,” right? We’re stuck with one initiative after the other after the other. Really everybody can be fatigued, from the administrators right down to the students.

But when you think about this hard-hitting instructional approach and hard-hitting learning strategy that encompasses so much, all with this great context, it really is Project Based Learning. You’ve got the four C’s in Critical Thinking, Creativity, Collaboration, and Communication that everybody talks about. Like I said before, you have feedback, you have learning spaces, you have publishing, formative assessment, powerful mini-lessons. All these great things that are really wrapped up into one approach.

Once you learn how to do it really, once you learn how to plan with a unit perspective in mind, using PBL rather than a lesson by lesson perspective, you’re never going to want to go back to the way that you taught before. This puts the students at the center of the learning, and ultimately, it’s what’s best for them.

Vicki: The book is Hacking Project Based Learning. We’ll be doing an e-book giveaway, so check the Shownotes, enter to win, and share this show and comment.

We all really need to be motivated to think about the difference this week between, “Are we doing just projects? Or are we truly moving to Project Based Learning?” Because the difference is remarkable.

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford

Biography as Submitted

Ross is the coauthor of Hacking Project Based Learning, and the Supervisor of Instructional Practice K-12 in the Salisbury Township School District (1:1 MacBook/iPad) in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He is an Apple Distinguished Educator and a Google Certified Innovator. His passions are inquiry-based learning and quality professional development. He blogs about these topics at rosscoops31.com. He regularly speaks, presents, and conducts workshops related to his writings and professional experiences.

When he is not working, he enjoys eating steak and pizza, exercising, reading books, playing on his computer, and provoking his three beautiful nephews. Please feel free to connect with him via email, RossCoops31@gmail.com, and Twitter, @RossCoops31.

Blog: http://rosscoops31.com

Twitter: @RossCoops31

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.)

The post Get Motivated to Do Project based Learning the Right Way #pbl appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Questions of Compliance or Empowerment?

The Principal of Change George Couros - 15 September, 2017 - 09:21

This visual is from a great post by Katie Martin titled, “Creating a Learning Orientation Versus a Performance Orientation“:

Two things here that are quite powerful.  In my 2010 post, “What Makes a Master Teacher“, I talk about the difference between “Learning Goals” and “Performance Goals”, and list that criteria for a “master teacher”:

6. Focuses on learning goals as opposed to performance goals – Reading “Drive” by Dan Pink, he talks about the difference between performance and learning goals.  A performance goal would be similar to having students wanting to receive an “A” in french where a learning goal would be a student wanting to become fluent in the language.  Many students are smart enough that they know how to meet the objectives of a rubric and still not grow much in their learning.  A master teacher sets the goals based on learning not on receiving a grade.  This type of assessment is not about understanding what a students knows and reporting on it, but it is a tool used for learning.

These questions that Katie shares are perfect for this type of learning.

The other aspect here is the shift from compliance to engagement to empowerment.  A key word to know if a student is “empowered” is that they have ownership over their own learning.  In the “performance orientation” questions, everything is focused on what I have to do for someone else, where the “learning orientation” questions are about individual growth and development.  It is a total shift in focus and ownership on the growth moving forward.

Katie’s question, “Is there another way to solve this problem?”, reminded me of something I recently read on Will Richardson’s blog:

“Schools place an overwhelming emphasis on teaching children to solve problems correctly, not creatively.” 

How much creativity could there possibly be when we deem one answer or way, as the only correct path?

Let’s be honest…there is still a major part of the world that wants people just to be compliant.  People that are developed as self-starters and learn to develop themselves when no one is watching is a shift that needs to happen in our world, no matter if you work for someone else, or yourself.  The second set of questions are much harder to get students toward, especially if they have been “conditioned” in schools. But when did anyone ever say being a great educator was easy?

Categories: Planet

Be a Router and Share Messages

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 14 September, 2017 - 21:00

The curriculum I am using for Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles is the excellent Code.Org curriculum. I really like the Internet Simulator that is involved in many of the early lesson in the Internet unit. It really lets students try a lot of things. I like to add a bit of my own flavor though and involving physical objects and activities is part of that. So today I had my students send messages through routers where students played that part of routers.

Here’s what I did. I semi-randomly assigned each student a two part address. The first number indicated a router and the second a student “connected” to that router. I randomly assigned a students to be routers. I selected the number of routers based on the number of students in the section. I think you need at least two routers but more would be better if the class size allows it.

I prepared a bunch of “message packets.” and handed a couple of them to each student who was not a router.

A list of students with their “IP addresses” was displayed on the board. I could have printed them out if I liked wasting paper but I don’t.

Students were to write out a question in the message field as well as the send to and return addresses (the codes I had created) and send the message. They were to give the message to the “router” they were connected to. The router was then responsible for either handing the message directly to the intended recipient if they were “on the same router” or pass it along to the appropriate router if not. That router was responsible for passing it to the recipient connected to them.

After a bunch of messages and replies were sent we discussed what happened. Some good things happened. Well bad things depending on how you want to look at them. I love learning moments so they were good from my point of view.

One router was overwhelmed with messages and took a while to get them all to the right place. Great! Bottleneck simulated!

Some addresses were not well written and could not be delivered. I may send some messages like that myself next time to make sure that happens. Dropped message and what that means for the learning experience!

I did this with minimal discussion first so that students didn’t know exactly what to expect. I’m hopeful this made the later discussion and the exercise with the Internet Simulator.

What do you think? Look reasonable to you? What do you do to help students understand routers and what they do?

Categories: Planet

23+ Tips to Help Kids Organize by Learning Styles

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 14 September, 2017 - 04:40

Sponsored by Staples

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

As I organize my tenth grader for back-to-school, I’m realizing that we’re still missing some important items. One of my passions as an educator is helping non-traditional learners succeed in school. Whether they have a learning difference or ADD, I believe that if we work with kids, we can help all of them succeed.

This blog post is sponsored by Staples. All content and opinions are my own. I’m glad all of the products I mention here are in stock all year long at Staples because kids will need them to get organized.

Judith Kolberg’s Conquering Chronic Disorganization is one of my favorite books, but there are others that have also helped me come up with the following tips. And here’s an important point: while the items discussed here will help kids succeed all year long, your ongoing job is to be a consultant of sorts and help students know how to use them.

Let’s talk about learning styles and some organizational tips for each type of style. The thing we have to remember is that if a student LEARNS in a certain way, they should also ORGANIZE in a certain way. As I share these products, remember that you can pick them up from Staples — they always keep all of these things IN STOCK.

Also remember, that none of us is any “one” style. Whatever your thoughts on learning styles, using these methods can help anyone become better organized. (I use transparent folders myself and it helps me.)

An Essential Sense-Making Tip for kids: Theme the System

Come up with a theme for your child’s organization system. The problem with many children is that processes and procedures don’t make sense to them. They don’t bring papers home because they don’t know where to put papers to make sure they get home. And after Mom signs the paper at home, kids don’t know where to put them to make sure they get back to school.

You can help students succeed by theming how they’ll organize things like test review materials, homework, things that come home, things to return to the teacher, things for other students, etc. Then, for example, if your child loves football, consider the following system:

  • Test Review Items – A folder with a football goal on it (Their goal is to do their best.)
  • Homework Items – A folder with a football on it (Tests don’t happen as much, but they have to keep playing the game even if it isn’t time for a test.)
  • Take Home to Mom – A cheerleader folder
  • Return to Teacher – a coach folder
  • Things to Give to Other Students – A team folder
  • Planner – their playbook

Or, if your child loves to dance, you could have a system like this:

  • Test Review Items – recital folder
  • Homework Items – dance shoes
  • Take Home to Mom – audience
  • Return to Teacher – dance teacher
  • Things for Other Students – dance troupe
  • Planner – dance program

The key is to have visual reminders for each part of the planning system. Then, when you’re talking to a child who doesn’t really like homework, you can say, “Go get your playbook” or “Go get your dance program,” and you’ve got a positive anchor that they can understand. Use this system to organize their backpack as well.

My favorite way to make this system work is to purchase sticker paper. Then you put whatever images you want on sturdy notebooks, folders, and planners.

Other Tips to Help Every Student Succeed
  • Make sure they have a paper planner/calendar that fits their style. I recommend letting students pick one out. You can also purchase Happy Planner stickers to customize their planner and make it their own.
  • Color code their classes by coordinating supplies for each class. For example, cover the math book in a blue cover and get a blue binder. For literature, you could cover it in red and get a red binder and a small red plastic box for index cards. You get the idea! Then use that color to highlight the class on their schedule. For each class, they’re ready to grab and go based on color! (You could go one step further with a multicolored pen that lets students write on their calendar in the color of the class.)
  • A sturdy pencil bag can hold pens, markers, crayons, a small ruler, a calculator, and possibly their planner.
  • A jump drive / memory key is important for older students who need to take computer files with them.

Now, let’s dive into specific things for unique learning styles. Remember that many of us learn with a mix of these styles, so you may find ideas in several categories that work for students.

Bodily-Kinesthetic Learners

These are hands-on students who learn by doing. But the struggle is that often the notes and other traditional organizers may not work for them. First, remember that a clue to bodily-kinesthetic types is often their use of action verbs. Use this to their advantage.

Tip: Buy a Clipboard Box

Bodily-kinesthetic students may prefer clipboards to binders. I like clipboard boxes. Students can keep their planner, sticky notes and some pens inside. My tenth-grade son has a Saunders Redi-Rite Clipboard with Calculator, which is metal, but for safety, I recommend that younger kids have a plastic clipboard box.

Organize with a clipboard box. I’ve found that students that can’t keep up with a planner or papers, often succeed using this approach. Homework papers go inside the box. Their list can be clipped on the front.

Tip: Use Action Verb Sticky Notes

As a student is given a paper by a teacher, teach them to get out a sticky note and put the action on the note on the front of the paper. You can even color code it. Think action and types of activities, and file these papers inside the clipboard box if they need to be done later in the day.

For example, green sticky notes could be for homework with the message “Read this” or “Answer these questions.” Pink sticky notes could identify a destination, such as “Put in math binder” or “Give this to Mom.” Anything that needs to be handled this class period can be clipped on the front of the clipboard.

Tip: Sticky Note Organizing Center

Use the inside of the clipboard box or a folder to create areas for organizing tasks. For example, students can have sticky notes with action verbs for each thing that is to be done. Students can move their tasks between “now,” “tomorrow,” or a specific date. Just make sure that you use the super-sticky notes for this kind of organization system. Many bodily-kinesthetic and tactile learners love being able to move around their list and reorganize it without rewriting things.

Tip: Help Students Build Habits

These methods won’t work if students don’t go through their papers consistently, so help these kids build habits. For example, teach them to go through their papers and put them in the appropriate places at the beginning of study hall or when they go home. You can make a checklist on a sticky note that they check off each day.

Tip: Help Students Create Action Centers

Stock areas with supplies for taking certain kinds of action. For example, the math action center would have graph paper, rulers, and calculators. These items could live in a transparent envelope that they can grab when they’re ready to work on that subject. (A note here, I love the Staples Poly Envelopes and pick them up for me and my son.)

Group all items together by courses. For example, if they need index cards for vocabulary, include index cards and sharpie markers in their vocabulary action center.

Other Tips for Bodily-Kinesthetic Learners
  • Organize papers in three-ring binders (remember to color code).
  • Build in release strategies. Bodily-kinesthetic learners often need to get out their energy. If they can’t have wiggle stools or special ways to sit, make sure they have a stress ball or something to squeeze and let out that extra energy. (You could go for a fidget spinner if your school allows it, but check with them first.)
  • If your student just can’t use a planner, you could get Legos of different colors (matching the subject areas). With labels and FriXion erasable pens, students can write the homework for that subject on the colored lego. Erase the work as it is done and start over. This may sound kind of “out there,” but I’ve seen in work.
Auditory Learners

Auditory learners like to learn by listening. Sometimes the written word can be a challenge for them. Work with students and their teachers to help auditory learners set up an auditory organization system.

Power station. Students who need their smartphone to capture learning will drain the battery of their smartphone rapidly. Purchase a rechargeable power bank and cable to help a student’s phone stay charged up all day.

Tip: Keep a Running Recording of Assignments

Make sure students have a good pair of headphones (perhaps even with a mic included). Make a notebook page for the day in OneNote or Evernote. Let students record quick reminders throughout the day about what has to be done. When they get home, they can play it back to remember what they need to do. Share this system with teachers so that they can help auditory learners quickly record these verbal notes in a way that doesn’t disturb the class. You could even use a digital recorder.

Because using audio and video may drain the battery of a smart device, you definitely need a rechargeable power bank for whichever device these students are using.

Tip: Record Teacher Review Sessions

Auditory learners benefit from listening to teacher lectures and review sessions. Make sure they know how to record and organize these for later listening.

Tip: Learn How to Voice Type

While Dragon Naturally Speaking is the top of the line, students can use dictation on their smartphone devices. I often record on my phone and run it through the Dragon transcription service to have articles typed or me. Auditory learners often express themselves better by speaking, so learning to dictate papers versus writing them by hand may be a benefit.

Other Tips for Auditory Learners:
  • Use timers and reminders.
  • Talk to yourself as you go through steps of a process.
  • Become a master at recording and quickly retrieving audio from your classes.
Visual Learners

“Out of sight, out of mind” applies to visual learners. They can sometimes forget all about an assignment if it isn’t written down. But also remember that being able to scan and see things quickly helps these students.

Organize visually. Visual organizers often struggle with “out of sight, out of mind.” Keep supplies, items, and work materials organized so they can be seen. This Martha Stewart wall manager is a good example of visual organizing.

Tip: Organize Visually

These students may benefit from their homework station being organized visually on a wall. The Martha Stewart Wall Manager system is a great example of this style of organizing.

Tip: Use Transparent Folders

“Don’t conceal, reveal” is a tip from Judith Kolberg in her book Conquering Chronic Disorganization. Visual learners must be able to see things. So putting papers into a file folder is like hiding them from the student. For this reason, transparent file folders and envelopes can help students remember what they have to do.

Tip: Use Sheet Protectors or Clear Dividers

Sheet protectors and other clear items can be used to help students organize in a visual way so they can see the work that needs to be done. Try not to hide things. Sheet protectors are a great holder for commonly used forms, graph paper, and other items. The easier something is to scan and find, the happier a visual learner will be.

Tip: Clear Stackable Boxes

Scanning and finding can be challenging for visual students, so using clear, stackable boxes for supplies can help. Also, by grouping supplies for one class, you’ll make it faster for them to get their work together for class.

Organizing is an Ongoing Process

Whatever a student’s learning style, parents, and teachers can become “organizational consultants” by using these tips to help every child organize for learning. If you’re able to take a child shopping, sometimes they’ll find items they love to use. This helps. But realize that organizing oneself doesn’t come naturally. It takes time.

The biggest thing that I’ll ask is that if a child consistently doesn’t have homework or can’t bring papers home, and if you know that the support structures are in place, help the child find an organizing system that works for them. As a mother of three (and two with LD’s), I’ve turned organizing into a lifelong pursuit and challenge. The more a child is challenged to learn, the more they are naturally disorganized. But when you find what works, it makes all the difference in the world.

So get out there, stock up on some of these items, and see what works. And thanks to Staples, our sponsor of this series, you can find all of these products in stock throughout the year!

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored blog post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.)ed

The post 23+ Tips to Help Kids Organize by Learning Styles appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

GradeCam: The Teacher’s Friend for Assessment

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 14 September, 2017 - 00:23

A sponsored post by GradeCam

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Some think GradeCam is just the modern-day replacement for multiple-choice Scantron machines. I did. But I was wrong. This past week, I took a tour of GradeCam, and in this post, I’ll share with you the features of this system and how it can save you time as a teacher. It will also help you with both formative and summative assessments, and it will enter your grades into any electronic grade book directly from GradeCam. Let’s dive deeper.

This blog post is sponsored by GradeCam. All opinions are my own.

1. Simple Assessments of All Kinds

First, let’s look at the ways you can use GradeCam for assessments.

  • Multiple Choice: This is just the beginning.
  • True False: You can see what this looks like below.

  • Handwritten Numeric Assignments: Yes! Students can write in a numeric answer. GradeCam has a new tool called AITA (artificial intelligence teaching assistant) that can grade numeric handwriting. Math teachers should be thrilled!

Handwritten numeric responses can be graded with AITA, GradeCam’s Artificial Intelligence Teaching Assistant.

  • Number Grids: A numeric grid looks kind of like the grid that many of us have seen on the SAT. You can use this one, but in some cases, you might prefer the Handwritten Numeric (above).

  • Rubrics: You can set up and fill in a rubric for student work, and then scan quickly to enter it into your grade book.
  • Rubrics With Capture Area: You can include a handwritten capture area within your rubric. Then you can view what students wrote and score it quickly (without paper) inside GradeCam.

GradeCam Rubric with capture area

  • Credit Assignments: This is a cool option. You can print out a small form and attach it to the front of a student’s journal, vocabulary or spelling book, or another item. This lets you quickly see if the student did the work. If you’re doing what I call a check grade (or what others call a credit assignment), just scan the code to enter the check or credit into the grade book.

Setting up assessments is fast and easy. There are many types of assessments in GradeCam including handwritten numeric.

2. Quick Data Feedback for Student Performance

Remember, teachers, that you don’t have to “grade” everything. Some student work can serve as formative assessment checkpoints to help you see how students are learning. You can use this data to adjust your teaching and better teach your students.

One of the advantages of GradeCam is the quick feedback that you get for your assessments. You can look at each item on the quiz or test and see where you need to re-teach or reinforce. First, you can look overall at the class. Then you can identify individual students who are struggling and need some extra help.

Item review makes it easy to see where your class is struggling. If you use several assessments during the class period to see how knowledge is forming in student minds, you can just check for learning. It isn’t necessary to record a grade in the gradebook. (In fact, I recommend that you shouldn’t feel tempted to record these grades even though GradeCam easily does it for you.) This can redirect your attention to teaching better and identifying which students need extra help.

3. Make Laminated Sheets for Student Use and Reuse

While you can print individual forms for student use and reuse, you can also just print a standard form and laminate it. Students can use a dry erase or Vis-a-vis marker to record their answers. After using the camera to enter the scores, they can wipe their forms and reuse them in the next class.

If students have any kind of book that you’re using for a check grade or credit assignment, print out the form and tape it on the front of the book for easy scoring. Make assessment simple.

While you can print off forms for individual assignments, consider creating a standard form and laminating copies for students. They can keep and reuse them quickly any time you assess. And remember, no matter how many questions you put on your standard form (and Gradecam can have up to 1,000), you don’t have to use them all.

4. Remember the Value of Pre-Assessments

Many times, we review content that we’ve already presented to our students. They become bored when we cover “old” material that they know well. But the reason why we review is that some students might not know the material. You can free up class time and teach more efficiently when you pre-assess for prior knowledge.

Again, this is not a recorded grade, but it can help you better use your class time.

I also like the charts and graphs that you can quickly create in GradeCam to see what students are learning. You can link any question to state standards and see standards-based reports as well.

In this graphic,you can see pre-assessment data on a content area that helps the teacher understand the class knowledge overview.


5. Any Camera Works… But Practice First

You can use the camera on your Chromebook or laptop, mobile phone or tablet, or document camera. I do recommend setting up your device so that students can quickly position their item for scanning.

If you’re using a laptop, for example, it’s easier to hold the items in a stack and remove the front item for quick scanning. You might also want to have a white clipboard on a stand to cover the background. However, if you’re using a document camera or down-facing camera, laying an item down and then putting the next on top of it seems to work best.

Give students immediate feedback. Here’s what I love about inviting students to scan the document themselves — they get immediate feedback. Part of this, of course, is teaching them to clear the results before the next student scans his or her document. This is a fantastic way to quickly give feedback to students, which is why you want to make it easy for them to scan their own scoresheets. Set up a class procedure that will make it easy to do.

Experiment until you arrive at a system that works for both you and your students.

6. Practice the Transfer to Your Electronic Gradebook

Any teacher is eligible for a 60-day free trial of GradeCam Go! Plus. You can transfer grades to any electronic gradebook, but there are a few steps. You’ll have to open your gradebook and select the assignment and class. Then, after you click in the first student’s cell, you’ll tap F8. This will automatically transfer grades to the gradebook.

Now, for a great feature of GradeCam: Districts and schools that purchase a site license can work with GradeCam to set up SIS-sync for your school. This way, the gradebooks and students are entered and synchronize easily. This means little to no setup for your teachers.

Get started today with your free 60-day trial of GradeCam.

Now you can see why GradeCam is far more than multiple-choice. It’s a powerhouse assessment tool that can save teachers time — their most precious resource!

To help you learn more, here are links to some subject-specific tutorials for using Gradecam. Just click and download the PDF.

Enjoy learning and saving time with Gradecam!

The post GradeCam: The Teacher’s Friend for Assessment appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

NCWIT Aspirations in Computing 2018

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 13 September, 2017 - 21:45

Several of my students have applied for this award and all found it quite worthwhile.There are many benefits for students in high school and college. It’s really helpful for girls and young women to be recognized for their interests and accomplishments in technology.

Calling all 9th-12th grade women and educators, as well as college women in tech! 2018 Aspirations in Computing award applications are open: https://www.aspirations.org.

  • Earn scholarships for college
  • Find computing internships
  • Connect with a large network of other technical young women
  • Discover resources to increase your knowledge of technology

See also Top 10 Reasons to Apply for the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing

Categories: Planet

5 Ideas for Technology Stations

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 13 September, 2017 - 20:19

Leslie Swanson-Anaya on episode 145 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Leslie Swanson-Anaya @InspiredLeslie elementary teacher of the year for Texas region 15 has ideas for awesome technology stations. These apps will work for all ages of students and subjects. Learn how she helps students learn and progress using technology.

Today’s Sponsor: GradeCam is a web-based tool that lets you customize assessments with multiple choice, true/false, number grids, rubrics, and more. You can instantly scan and score answer sheets using ANY device with a camera. You can even transfer grades into any digital grade book with the touch of a button.

Save time and start your free trial today at gradecam.com/coolcatteacher. See how Gradecam can save you time and speed up your grading.

Listen Now

Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. All comments in the shaded green box are my own. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.


Enhanced Transcript Five Ideas for Technology Stations

Shownotes: www.coolcatteacher.com/e145
Friday, September 8, 2017

Vicki: Today we’re going to be talking with the author of #EduSnap17, Leslie Swanson Anaya @InspiredLeslie, about five ideas for technology stations.

So Leslie, what’s your first idea?

Idea #1: PBS Learning Media

Leslie: Well, my first idea – and one I have used in my classroom at the teacher-led station – is the interactive PBS LearningMedia. There are so many resources in there. Teachers, it’s so easy to log in, look at your grade level, your subject area, and pull up and interactive that you can actually use to augment the lesson.

Vicki: Oh, fun! Give me an example of one you’ve used that you thought was awesome.

The Cryptology using Algebraic Expressions Lesson

Leslie: The kids really loved the Cryptology one. We used it when we were solving equations. The students are given an equation, and they solve for the unknown variable. Then they have to match their answer to the country code to see where the criminals were coming from. They thought that was really fun!

Vicki: Oh, fun! And we forgot to mention that you’re actually an Elementary Teacher of the Year in Texas for Region 15, so these are elementary kids doing these really cool projects.

OK, what’s your second?

Idea #2: Flipgrid for a Collaborative Station

Leslie: My second one is Flipgrid. It’s a really amazing app for kids to collaborate with each other. At the collaborative station, I would set up a question that I ask the students. They would use their code to log onto the grid. Each one of them in the group can go ahead and give a response to that question and share the things that they created digitally as well.

Vicki: That’s such a fun tool, and we actually have an EdTech Tool Tuesday about that that I’ll link to in the Show Notes if you want to more about Flipgrid. This is one I’m going to be trying in the fall. It’s really cool.

OK, what’s next?

Idea #3: Nearpod

Leslie: Nearpod. It’s an AR/VR app, but it’s really neat because you can set it up as teacher-led, so I can actually control what they’re seeing from my device to their devices. They can also work together, pair up with a partner, to solve the problems and go through the different steps that I’m sending them. It’s a really amazing app, as well as I can also take them though different virtual tours.

Vicki: OK, so some people may not know what AR and VR stand for. We’ve talked about both of these, so I will include previous shows in the Show Notes. But explain just a little bit more about what these do.

Leslie: Augmented Reality just adds another layer to what you’re looking at. So for example, if I’m showing student gallons or pints, it will add a layer to actually compare – they can visually see — how much they’re looking at to compare it.

Vicki: Cool. And then how about the VR piece?

Leslie: The Virtual Reality takes them on a tour using their device or their Virtual Reality Glasses. They can actually be in another place and see inside of it. So if I took them to an aquarium, or another country, they can see different spots within that 360. They can actually turn around and see everything that’s in that space.

Vicki: What devices are your students using?

Leslie: We use both Chromebooks and iPads.

Vicki: Cool. OK, what’s your fourth one?

Idea #4: Google Expeditions

Leslie: My fourth one is Google Expeditions. I’m really passionate about this one because they have so many resources. It’s really important for especially my students who come from a low socioeconomic background. (They) haven’t had the experiences they need to connect new learning to. I use this one quite often to help create experiences so they know what we’re talking about. Especially with my ESL students and special ed as well. It helps give them a frame of reference.

Vicki: So give me an example of a Google Expedition you love.

Leslie: Well, I took my students on an expedition actually to an aquarium when we were learning about different careers and personal scinotes. We were exploring different areas or things that they might be interested in, so that they could then go look those up. They knew what career it was, what it entailed, and they could look up what kind of education they needed for that career, what the annual salaries were, and things like that.

Vicki: Cool. So we can kind immerse and help them travel and see the world without them having to leave the classroom.

OK, what else?

Leslie: It’s amazing.

Vicki: What’s your fifth?

Idea #5: LearnZillion

Leslie: My fifth one would definitely be LearnZillion. That’s also a really easy one to set up. You just set up an assignment, you give the kids the code, they can do it at their individual technology stations, and they log on. It’s also aligned with state standards so you know that the students are working on activities that are aligned to what they’re supposed to be learning as far as the content goes.

Vicki: Oh, there’s so many! Five fantastic ideas! Now you’ve got a lot more ideas in #EduSnap17, and we are going to a book giveaway. But let me ask you this, Leslie, how do you keep up with all the tools out there so that you know what to bring into your classroom?

Leslie: A lot of times I just have to do some research, look some things up and play with it. I did learn quite a bit from Jaime Donally, from AR/VR in EDU, and then all my PLNs that I connect with on Twitter have taught me so much. The best learning that I’ve had thus far was definitely at ISTE 17. It was amazing!

Vicki: Oh, wasn’t it so much fun? Educators, I just want to encourage you. Leslie is modeling for us — in some ways she may or may not know what I call it – but I call it, “Innovate like a turtle.” Taking 15 minutes, two to three times a week to learn something new ad to level up. And then when you go to conferences, just immerse in them and learn everything you can to bring back to your students. This whole idea of having tech stations and having these resources can really help our kids engage with the world, even when they can’t travel.

So, follow Leslie online and get out there and be remarkable! And I hope you can use one of these ideas.

Leslie: The really best thing about not necessarily knowing all of these apps and how to use them is (that) the kids are so forgiving, you learn together and you learn with them. It’s OK to have a faceplant every now and then because we learn from it, and we grow, and it’s just awesome.

Vicki: It is awesome. I’ve never heard anybody say it like that, Leslie. “It’s OK to have a faceplant.” I guess it is. I certainly have had my own faceplants, but I won’t say I enjoy it. (laughs)

Leslie: (laughs)

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford

Biography as Submitted

Leslie Swanson-Anaya received her undergraduate degree from Schreiner University in Kerrville, TX. She was a stay-at-home mother and foster mom for many years before pursuing her teacher certification credentials. After advocating for the educational needs of the children in her care, she felt a calling to pursue her teacher certification from Texas A&M- Commerce. Currently she is pursuing her M.Ed. for Concordia University Texas.

After serving as a special education teacher in Dallas ISD, Mansfield ISD, and Abilene ISD she found her teaching home in Brownwood ISD. Currently, she teaches sixth grade math at Coggin-Intermediate. As a strong proponent for student-centered instruction, she uses a blended learning model for her students using a strengths-based approach to differentiate for all student needs. Mrs. Swanson-Anaya believes in teaching the ‘whole child’, as evidenced by the strong relationships she has formed with her students, parents, colleagues, and school community.

Her professional interests focus on leveraging edtech resources, combined with solid pedagogy for student benefit. Ms. Swanson’s current projects, fueled by a passion to make a positive impact and inspire students to strive for the same, include creating blended learning experiences that incorporate student collaboration, to foster a growth and innovation mindset. Her practices will be featured in the upcoming EduMatch publication, as a contributing author, EduSanp17: A Snapshot in Education. In addition, she serves as a panelist for PBS Teachers’ Advisory Group, and is a Learning Ambassador of Atomic Learning. Finally, she was recently honored with Elementary Teacher of the Year for her contributions to the learning community in Brownwood ISD.

Blog: leslieswanson-anaya.com

Twitter: @inspiredleslie

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.)

The post 5 Ideas for Technology Stations appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet
ACCE Partners
ACCE Partners
ACCE Partners
ACCE Partners