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5 Ideas to Improve Rural Education in America

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 24 March, 2017 - 22:13

Episode 40 of #10MT Interviews Daisy Dyer Duerr

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today Daisy Dyer Duerr @DaisyDyerDuerr reimagines what rural education can be. Rural education has a significant majority of perpetually impoverished counties in America. Additionally, only 55% of rural America has broadband access versus 94% of urban America. This digital divide and poverty create unique challenges. Daisy gives us five ideas to address them.

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In today’s show, we’ll discuss:
  • Promoting more broadband access
  • Helping schools no longer be engines of Exodus but places of opportunity
  • The need for more rural education advocacy
  • An example of a rural program from the Farm Bureau that is an exemplary idea we can use in education
  • An idea for partnering with higher education to better understand the specific needs of rural education.

I hope you enjoy this episode with Daisy!

Selected Links from this Episode

Download the Transcript

Full Bio Daisy Dyer Duerr

Daisy Dyer Duerr, EdS
As the CEO of Redesigning Rural Education, LLC, Daisy is a National Keynote Speaker, Education Consultant, and Leadership Coach. She is an NASSP Digital Principal, and was a featured panelist & Principal of 1st rural school featured @ Digital Learning Day Live! (2015). Daisy spent her last 4 years in public education (2011-2015) as a “Turnaround Principal” of a Rural, Isolated, Pre-K-12 Public School.

She’s served as Principal of 2 Schools recognized as “Model Schools” by Dr. Daggett’s ICLE. Daisy testified in front of the FCC in Washington, D.C. as an advocate for Rural Broadband.

Daisy currently hosts “Totally Rural,” a National Podcast bringing attention to Rural Business and Education issues, promoting advocacy in across the rural American space. Daisy continues to be an advocate for ALL students in every ZIP CODE. She was named a Distinguished Alumnus of Lyon College in 2015 & also appeared on Arkansas Times’ “2015 Top 20 Innovators in Arkansas” list.


The post 5 Ideas to Improve Rural Education in America appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Dreams to Norms

The Principal of Change George Couros - 24 March, 2017 - 11:05

Just thinking…

My daughter just turned 7 months old. Watching her grow up has been fascinating, and when I FaceTime her on the road, she reaches out now, trying to touch my face. It melts me every single time.

As I was looking at her, I was overcome with the idea of how when I was a kid, I could only dream of a day that we had “video phones”; she will never know anything different.  Isn’t that a powerful thought?

In fact, the things she dreams about one day, will not be her reality as a child, but her norm as an adult.

Yet, when we look at the experience of school, will her reality in kindergarten be the same as mine, with just more “digital” thrown into the mix?

I loved school. My Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Stock, was amazing, and she could be reading this right now, as we have stayed connected on Facebook.  I still remember moments from class and that she taught me how to do “bunny ears” to tie my laces (which I still use!), and I still think of her impact on me often.   There was so much from my experience of school that I hope continues with my daughter.  That she will adore many of her teachers as I did (and still do).  But I also do not want school to be exactly the same for her as it was for me. I want it to be so much better.  Isn’t that the drive for every parent? That their kids have it better than they do.

I am happy that my dreams have become her reality (although I will do my best to raise her not to be spoiled by any of this).  I just want to make sure that this is both in and out of school.

My hopes and dreams for my daughter are the same as my parents were for me.  Same, yet different, but ultimately, better.

Categories: Planet

Eric Sheninger Talks About Digital Pedagogy That Improves Learning

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 23 March, 2017 - 22:15

Episode 39 of the 10-Minute Teacher Show

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today Eric Sheninger @E_Sheninger challenges us to move to the next level with digital technologies. We can’t use tech because it is “cool and new.” It must improve learning. If it doesn’t improve learning, why are we spending the money?

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Subscribe to the Show

Thank you Eric for donating Digital Leadership as the give away contest for this show. You can enter here.

“ Just because kids are engaged doesn’t necessarily equate to the fact that they’re actually learning. @E_Sheninger


In today’s show, we’ll discuss:
  • Why we need evidence that learning is improving
  • Shifting assessment strategies that help students show what they understand
  • Arguments for student (and teacher) portfolios of learning
  • Why curriculum is no longer a valid argument against technology
  • Encouragement for teachers who feel like an island of innovation with technology.

I hope you enjoy this episode with Eric!

Want to hear another Thought Leader Thursday on Digital Leadership? Hear Steven Anderson talk about Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality in the Classroom
Selected Links from this Episode

Download the Transcript


Full Bio Eric Sheninger

Eric is a Senior Fellow and Thought Leader on Digital Leadership with the International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE). Prior to this he was the award-winning Principal at New Milford High School.

Under his leadership his school became a globally recognized model for innovative practices. Eric oversaw the successful implementation of several sustainable change initiatives that radically transformed the learning culture at his school while increasing achievement. He has emerged as an innovative leader, best selling author, and sought after speaker.

Digital Leadership by Eric Sheninger

The post Eric Sheninger Talks About Digital Pedagogy That Improves Learning appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

ACM and CSTA Announce Cutler-Bell Prize Student Winners

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 23 March, 2017 - 21:37

Make no mistake I think the Cutler-Bell Prize is an outstanding award. I love that it recognizes early computer scientists (high school students!) for outstanding achievement.

This year's winners appear (based on the names) to be computational focused magnet schools. On one hand that such schools exist is great and even exciting. On the other hand I worry about the kids who have great interest in computer science but who don't get the opportunity to spend several high school years learning the cool stuff and working on great projects. Will the publicity for this award motivate more school districts to set up more similar magnet programs? Or perhaps at least look at expanding the CS offerings they offer? I hope so.

In the mean time I congratulate these students. It looks like they have done some serious work and I wish them great success in the future.

ACM and the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) have announced the 2016-2017 winners of the Cutler-Bell Prize in High School Computing. Three high school students were selected from among a pool of graduating high school seniors throughout the US. Eligible students applied for the award by submitting a project/artifact that engages modern technology and computer science. A panel of judges selected the recipients based on the ingenuity, complexity, relevancy and originality of their projects.

The Cutler-Bell Prize promotes the field of computer science and empowers students to pursue computing challenges beyond the traditional classroom environment. In 2015, David Cutler and Gordon Bell established the award. Cutler is a software engineer, designer, and developer of several operating systems at Digital Equipment Corporation. Bell, an electrical engineer, is researcher emeritus at Microsoft Research.

The winners are Elizabeth Hu, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (Virginia); Avi Swartz, Cherry Creek High School for Computational Biology (Colorado); and Aaron Walter, Yorkville High School for Computer Science (Illinois). Their submissions ranged from using data to study refugee migration models; determining type and quantity of protein components in biological samples; and a software program that evaluates students’ understanding of curriculum components.

Each Cutler-Bell Prize winner receives a $10,000 cash prize. This year’s recipients will be formally recognized at the Computer Science Teachers Association’s annual conference, July 8-11.

Categories: Planet

HSC English: Letter to NESA

Darcy Moore's Blog - 23 March, 2017 - 20:47

Recently I received a letter from English educators concerned about the changes to the Higher School Certificate. Many readers of this blog are passionate English teachers and I publish the concerns expressed by Associate Professor Jackie Manuel, Dr Don Carter and Janet Dutton below for your consideration.

Dear colleagues and friends,

We’re writing because we need your help, as passionate educators, writers, researchers and advocates for the quality and integrity of arts and humanities education.

As you may be aware, NESA has recently released a revised HSC English syllabus.

The changes are significant, with far-reaching implications for student learning, the integrity and status of the subject, university admissions, and the role and significance of literature in the broader social and cultural realms. Just to name a few!

It is hoped you will sign your name to this letter to NESA which sets out the issues at stake due to the recent changes to HSC English. 

We’re seeking signatories from a range of people, including academics in the field, writers, publishers and others. If you are agreeable to signing this letter, just click on this link to add your name, role, affiliations and contact details.  

We have already had professors of English, English educators and writers from around the world writing to NESA, the Minister and the Premier to protest against the watering-down of senior English and to express their consternation at the removal of the requirement to study novels and poetry in the final year of secondary English.

It would be so appreciated if you were able to distribute this letter to your networks in Australia and internationally – to colleagues in the field, artists (especially novelists and poets), and organisations or groups with a stake in arts and literary education.

You may wish to communicate directly as an individual or on behalf of a group, organisation or association, to the following people: 

Dr Rob Stokes – NSW Minister for Education: pittwater@parliament.nsw.gov.au

David de Carvalho – CEO (NESA): ceo@nesa.nsw.edu.au

Tom Alegounarias – Chairperson (NESA): tom.alegounarias@nesa.nsw.edu.au

The Hon. Gladys Berejiklian – Premier of NSW: willoughby@parliament.nsw.gov.au 

We need expert and esteemed voices to speak out against these changes. These voices must include those of Australian writers – particularly poets and novelists – as we seek to have the study of their work reinstated as a core requirement for all HSC English students. 

Whatever you can to do support this campaign would be very much appreciated.

Thank you for your time and your support.

Jackie, Janet and Don.

Associate Professor Jackie Manuel

  • Chief Examiner HSC English (Standard and Advanced, 2006-2011)
  • Member, NSW Board of Studies (2007-2012)
  • Chair, NSW Board Curriculum Committee, English K-10 (2008-2012)

Janet Dutton

  • Chief Examiner HSC English (Standard and Advanced, 2012-2016)
  • Lecturer in English Education, University of Sydney

Dr Don Carter

  • Board Inspector, English, NSW Board of Studies (2005-2012)
  • Senior Curriculum Officer, NSW Board of Studies (2002-2004)
  • Senior Lecturer, English Education, UTS BA/BEd
  • Coordinator Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Technology Sydney

If these concerns resonate please consider becoming a signatory to this letter and disseminating further

The post HSC English: Letter to NESA appeared first on Darcy Moore's Blog.

Categories: Planet

Effective Student-Led Parent Conferences

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 22 March, 2017 - 21:29

Laura Penrod Stock interviewed on Episode 38 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Help students share their work. Give them a voice. Students can lead parent conferences. They can share a year-long portfolio of work. Here’s how.

Today Laura Penrod Stock @tweetmeego coaches students to create powerful student-led conferences with their parents. By creating unique year-long portfolios, Laura believes students connect with their parents to help plan their future work and share their learning.

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In today’s show, Laura will talk about student-led conferencing and share:
  • How to make student portfolios and conferences unique and not “cookie-cutter”
  • What a student-led conference looks like
  • Their structure for student-led conferencing as it relates to 9-grade registrations
  • The two biggest mistakes many teachers make with student-led conferences
  • How Laura keeps up with student work

I hope you enjoy this episode with Laura!

Selected Links from this Episode
  • Twitter handle: @tweetmeego
  • Laura is giving away free access to Meego. Here’s how:

“So if you go to www.mymeego.com and click sign up now when it comes the time for you enter the coupon you’ll enter 1OMT and you’ll be in. if you’re the only teacher that has joined from your school, you’ll create your school. And you can invite other teachers in any grade on your team to join in and you can begin collaboration just amongst teachers.”

Download the Transcript

Full Bio Laura Penrod Stock

Laura Penrod Stock is a Lee County (Georgia) middle school classroom teacher. Sculpted from her experience in economic development, she is passionate about student eportfolios. “Teaching students to present themselves and their ideas effectively will determine their success in the global marketplace,” Stock submits.

She is the inventor of Meego®, a cloud-based collaborative platform for artifact collection and eportfolio creation.

Stock holds a B.S. in Consumer Economics, Auburn University, M.P.A. , Columbus State University, M.S.E.D.L., Western Governor’s University. Stock is the Lee County Georgia System Teacher of the Year 2016, GREA Outstanding Educator Award winner and a member of Delta Kappa Gamma.

The post Effective Student-Led Parent Conferences appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Flipping the Script; 3 Obstacles to Innovation Viewed Differently

The Principal of Change George Couros - 22 March, 2017 - 09:15

Arguments against innovative practices abound.  Innovation comes from not only dealing with roadblocks but recognizing when to turn these same roadblocks into the conversation on how we can do things differently and much better.

Think about the way you (and others) ask questions. Is it in pursuit of moving forward or the hidden reality of holding on to what you have always done?

Here are three common arguments I hear against innovation, and how I respond to them.


1. We don’t have time.

No matter where you go in the world, there are 24 hours in a day. Why is it that some schools are able to do things in a much more compelling way? They do not have more time, they just use it more effectively.

Let’s retire the “we don’t have time” argument. Start to rethink what is important, and how we are using our time. It is not about adding more, it is about doing things differently and better.

I had this same conversation with a teacher years ago about how they could not have students blog because there was no time in the day, yet when observing them, they had students write (copy) for 20-30 minutes items into their agenda daily. The argument was, “They need to be able to learn to organize.”  Reality check; I do not write any notes into a book that says “agenda”. It all goes onto my phone.  I am also not learning to organize myself if I am told what to write down exactly.  I am learning to do what you tell me.  Send them a google calendar appointment (PS…this was a classroom where all students had a laptop) if you like, and then use the other 19 minutes and 30 seconds to do something where the students have to be thoughtful, not mindlessly write off of a board.

Reshape your time, because there is no more coming your way.

2. We don’t have money.

There has never been a school that I have traveled to where they said, “We have so much money this year! What should we do with all of it?”

How you use your money and where you spend it is crucial.  Are you asking for innovation yet having the same textbook budget year after year?

Here is a great conversation starter for the “money” question.  Check out this gif on the “Evolution of the Desk“.

The question I always ask after showing this, is that if your school has more access to laptops, is your school supply list exactly the same?  Are there things that you can do with this one device, that you are spending money on elsewhere?

Again, it is not always about finding more, but rethinking what you have.

3.We are not sure this will work.

When I hear this reluctance to try something new because of fear of failure, I always try to get people to think about what they are doing now.  Is that practice knocking it out of the park?  Are worksheets “best practice” or “easiest practice”?  If what you are doing right now is stoking curiosity, and a love of deep learning, while empowering students, there is no need to search elsewhere. Do what you are doing.  But if it is not working for every kid, then you have to go out and venture and find (or create) something better for your students.

We also have to redefine “risk”. This is how I explain it to educators:

It doesn’t seem so bad when you see it that way, does it?

If you are not sure something “new” will work for your students, you also have to look at if the “old” thing is truly working, or if we are just doing it because we always have?


What is important about all of these “challenges” is that we use them as an opportunity to have conversations, not as roadblocks.  If we start looking at the challenges as a great way to get people to think differently about the “why, what, and how” of education, we are in a good spot. If we ignore these statements and running away from the challenges, we are actively doing what we don’t want to happen in our schools.

If people are not comfortable sharing these statements, it doesn’t mean they don’t believe them.  It just means that they are in a culture where they aren’t comfortable to have the conversation. Embrace the challenge and see it as an opportunity to move forward.

Every conversation we have is an opportunity to move education forward.

Categories: Planet

Datasets For Use in Teaching Computer Science

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 21 March, 2017 - 23:54

I found this thanks to the APCS A mailing list. 

CORGIS Datasets Project

The Collection of Really Great, Interesting, Situated Datasets

“The CORGIS Datasets Project seeks to make highly-motivating introductory computing experiences through simple, easy-to-pick-up datasets for beginners. We offer a wide range of libraries for many different programming languages and contexts. “

I haven’t looked at the libraries yet as they are for languages (Java, Python, and Racket) that I am not currently using but I would be if I were using them. There are also raw data sets in sql, JSON, and CSV formats. I use CSV files a lot and was very please with the look of the 43 data sets in that format. I can see some interesting projects ahead for my programming classes, data analysis in Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles, and even my freshmen course where we use EXCEL.

If you are interested in good data for real learning I recommend you take a look at https://think.cs.vt.edu/corgis/

Categories: Planet

Teaching Morals and Ethics In a World of Gray

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 21 March, 2017 - 22:23

A Cathy Rubin Global Education Discussion

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

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The murderous mobster Jimmy Hoffa once said, “I may have my faults, but being wrong ain’t one of them.” If such an evil man – guilty of prostitution, gambling, corruption, murder and more — didn’t see his faults, what hope do we teachers have of teaching kids the difference between right and wrong?

Cathy Rubin in her Global Search for Education has posed these questions in my inbox:

  • How important is teaching ethics in the classroom?
  • How do we instill a moral compass in every student?
  • How can we work to consistently cultivate values of thoughtfulness and empathy without directly teaching it?
  • What roles do teachers have to play in creating kind and compassionate citizens?
I have to say, this particular post has caused me agony. I’ve wished I was GK Chesterton or CS Lewis. But instead, I’m just a small-town teacher, albeit one who has worked with lots of kids and adults. This post is my heart. It may not be perfect, but it is my small contribution to a colossal topic with no easy answers.  Teachers Have to Be Models of Morality Once, Dr. Scott McLeod shared with me that a teacher can be fired if their personal life “distracts from the learning environment.” This does happen. For example, a teacher lost her job for posting Facebook pictures with a beer in her hand. Another lost her job for twerking.   While some may not understand, we teachers model life every day. Some students do not have adults in their lives to be a good model of behavior. Even if kids have great parents; teachers often spend more time with children than parents do. As a teacher, my responses to the struggles of life are some of the most important things I teach.

My daily interactions can teach students:

  • How to disagree
  • Handing rudeness
  • Apologizing when you’ve done something wrong
  • What should be done when someone talks about another person behind their back (I never allow people to talk about someone, not present)
  • Disruptive behavior and how to respond
  • Upsetting circumstances and how to handle them
  • Sometimes we even teach kids how to die

But teaching kids how to live is the most important thing we do. Steven Covey, author of the 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, defines “responsible” as having an

“ability to control one’s response.”

Robert Schmidgall says,

“We teach what we know; we reproduce what we are.”

For this reason, the greatest teaching secret that I never share is my dedication to fervent prayer. I’m confronted with too many hard things every day to make it on my own. I say this to point out that there are no easy answers when it comes to teaching kids. We teachers all cope in different ways.

So, some of the things I feel it is important I do as a teacher is to:

Live life like it matters. Know that students are watching. Apologize when you do the wrong thing.

Point out when children make the right decision. Kindness. Sticking up for those who are being bullied. Generosity. Caring. By pointing out when kids do the right things, we’re showing that right things exist.

Let kids make choices. It is ok for students to disagree with me. They make choices. I have to let them without being dogmatic or condescending.

Accept people who are different. Since every person is a masterpiece, loving people is art appreciation. Students need to meet, greet, and relate to all kinds of individuals from around the world. We all must appreciate and respect the differences we have and the beauty they bring to our world.

Teach kindness and empathy. I work hard to create projects like Mad about Mattering that encourage students to solve problems. Have empathy. Be kind to others.

All educators (and parents) should understand that we model behavior for students. Morals are most often caught, not taught. What we do is even more important than what we say.  Small Things Grow Big Quickly

Education can learn a lot from the story of the Romero family pet.

For eight years Sally was the Romero family pet. They got her when she was a foot long. The family said she’d always been playful. But not so on July 20, 1993. Sally, the Burmese python turned on 15-year old Derek Romero and strangled him until he died of suffocation. The Associated Press quoted the police as saying that Sally was “quite aggressive, hissing, and reacting.”

Deal with Trouble When It is Small or Not At All.

The small things aren’t small. Small things are big things just starting to grow.

Why I Only Cut Class Once

I cut PE one time. I had forgotten to read Sounder and needed to get it done before Literature. So, I cut PE class and sat on the bus reading until it was time for class. I was caught.

Although I’d never had a disciplinary offense before, I had one week of after school detention. I also had to clean up the gym after a basketball game. It was an awful, long week. My Dad was on the Board of Directors but reminded me,

“The standards are higher for you because I am on the board. I’ll never get you out of anything. Serve your time and learn.”

I never cut another class. My principal (and family) stopped that behavior the moment it started to grow. The desire to ever be where I wasn’t supposed to be was nixed right then and there.

What Happens When We Don’t Deal With the Small Things

I yelled at the TV when the reporter talked about Ethan Couch’s  “affluenza” claim. His lawyer claimed Ethan Couch was so wealthy that he didn’t know right from wrong and thus, shouldn’t be guilt of manslaughter. Are you kidding me?

But I promise that this wasn’t the first thing his parents had probably “gotten him out of.” He probably started with lying or hurting someone. I bet some teachers knew his name.

There is a time for grace and forgiveness (good educators know when), but there is also a time for accountability.

Stop misbehavior before it grows. Look at where a habit can lead if it is not stopped. It is easier to pull out a seedling than chop down a tree. Deal with behavior when it is small, or you may not be able to at all.    Behavior Has Consequences

A while back, I had Ron Clark on a podcast, and he talked about a phone call he got from a parent upset that her child didn’t get a cookie.

“Your child didn’t deserve the cookie,” said Ron.

By attempting to remove consequences for misbehavior and disruption, we have stories like these:

A teacher told me at her old school that the principal said,

“don’t send kids to the office. Don’t send them to the hall. You’re stuck with them, they’re you’re problem. You have to figure out what to do with them, it isn’t my problem.”

Another teacher I know said that they were discussing whether to install bullet proof glass between the students and teachers in a particularly gang-ridden school when the class sizes had gotten too large and unruly.

Some teachers say troublemakers are sent right back to their classrooms with few or no consequences.

Trouble makers should have trouble consequences. If they do not, trouble just becomes a form of entertainment or a very desperate cry for help.

One of the greatest disservices we can do to society is to ignore what should be dealt with right now.  Whether Someone is Offended Does Not Determine Right or Wrong

Here’s where I think education has gone massively wrong.  A teacher in Canada recently lost his job for stating an opinion that offended a student. He was teaching about private morality and public legality, The Canadian National Post reported,

“In other words, he said, in a pluralistic democracy, there’s often “a difference between people’s private morality and the law.”

“I find abortion to be wrong,” he said, as another illustration of this gap, “but the law is often different from our personal opinions.”

That was it, the teacher said. “It was just a quick exemplar, nothing more. And we moved on.”

The article goes on to say

“A little later, the class had a five-minute break, and when it resumed, several students didn’t return, among them a popular young woman who had gone to an administrator to complain that what the teacher said had “triggered” her such that she felt “unsafe” and that, in any case, he had no right to an opinion on the subject of abortion because he was a man.”

He did eventually lose his job. One student didn’t accept his apology and didn’t feel safe.

There is a difference between BEING OFFENSIVE and BEING WRONG. Just because you offend someone doesn’t necessarily make you wrong.

Winston Churchill offended a lot of people when he said of Neville Chamberlain,

“At the depths of that dusty soul there is nothing but abject surrender.”


“an appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last.”

But in the end, history has shown us that Churchill, although he was offensive, he was right. And one could argue that Chamberlain empowered Hitler’s rise to power by being afraid to offend Hitler. Some people are worth offending, especially when they are evil.

Right or wrong is not determined by how many people are offended.

The now popular movie Hacksaw Ridge has an epic scene where the whole unit is waiting for Desmond Doss to finish praying. [spoiler alert] That everyone was waiting to attack was astounding because Desmond Doss was harassed and bullied by many of them in the previous years.

You see, Desmond Doss had conviction. He would not carry a gun. It was his personal code of conduct. The leaders felt it was a danger to everyone else that he wouldn’t carry a gun and tried to court martial him. He persisted and won. He saved many lives as a medic.

Desmond didn’t advocate or try to make it so no one else could carry a gun. But he won the right to go into battle defenseless but armed with prayer and a determination to save lives. Although it offended the generals and others that Desmond had such a standard, history now shows us his heroism.

Andy Andrews has a whole chapter on “taking offense” in his new book The Little Things, that is a must read. He says,

“Mature people understand that while they are entitled to their own opinions, they are not entitled to their own facts. While it is true that you are free to believe anything you wish, the rest of us should not be expected – and certainly not compelled — to recognize, respect, or fund foolishness just because you believe it.”

Thomas Jefferson said,

“In matters of style, swim with the current. In matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

Morals offend people because some people don’t want to be told they are wrong. To help kids develop a “moral compass,” they will be told things that will offend them but will make them think. People who are easily offended become angry people who don’t make very good citizens. People who learn to reason things out and make up their mind, make better ones. Give Kids a To Do List

Too many schools are a place of don’t do.

Don’t lie. Don’t cheat. Don’t hit people.

But as the psychologists teach us teachers – us humans are really good at leaving out the “not.” One of the first things you learn as a teacher is NOT to say “do not talk.” The kids leave out the “not” and hear “do talk.”

Basketball players also use this technique. They are taught to say “ring the shot” in their mind when they are getting ready to shoot a free throw instead of “don’t miss.”

So, in the end, we have to get at the do’s.

  • Do be kind.
  • Do forgive
  • Do speak truth
  • Do be happy for others when something good happens.
  • Have good clean fun with friends who do good things
  • Stay pure in mind, body, and soul
  • Think about good things

These are just a start. But as the adage goes,

“You can’t boil the ocean.”

So, rather than give kids a long list, I keep it simple. Teachers used to call this the Golden Rule (it is also in the Bible),

“Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. Love your neighbor as yourself.”


“You reap what you sow.”

Give kids simple guidelines for how to treat others and how to live life. Teach kids what to do. A Note on Religion and Morality

One reason Cathy Rubin’s question filled me with such dread is that I knew it would lead me here. One can’t bring up morality without touching on religion.

My parents always told me to avoid politics and religion when meeting strangers unless you like standing in a South Georgia fire ant bed. The results of both can be painful.

But she asked, so here we go.

Think about it. In the United States, the founding fathers wanted to avoid having a state religion. State religion always leads to a state of oppression.

But it seems to me that freedom of religion is rapidly being replaced with freedom from religion in the minds of many.

Our ancestors knew what it was like to be deemed “politically incorrect.” In those days, they would lose their job. Lose their home. Perhaps even lose their family, if their views didn’t line up with “the state.”  They didn’t want a state religion.

However, there’s going to be an ism somewhere in our schools because there are questions in the universe that cannot be answered. Humans are wired to believe something about God. You can’t look at your hand without wondering who made it.

So, if we choose to remove God, we have humanism or atheism instead of Catholicism or Protestantism. But we will have an ism. Individualism. Extremism. Some ism will be there whether we want it or not. Unless we work to truly have the melting pot of isms that our founding father’s intended.


To Tell the Truth, Even When It Costs You

As part of being truthful, I believe we are whole people. As a whole person, I can’t pick and choose what pieces of me to leave out for you. For, to edit my belief systems is impossible and would make a liar out of me.

In fact, my own beliefs that God is the King of the Universe and Jesus Christ is his Son are so strong; I choose to teach at a Christian school. I have the freedom to speak about the Bible as I teach. But you’ll also see me love people of all kinds — I believe my work speaks for itself.

As a teacher, I believe it is good for students to see strong, healthy opinionated adults who believe in something bigger than themselves. And I want my students to become those same adults.

Freedom of religion and freedom to choose are an essential part of our beliefs and government here in the United States.

But I’m afraid, in an attempt not to offend anyone, that we’ve chosen to say nothing, believe nothing, and suddenly accept everything as OK as long as you think it is OK for you.

The End of it All

For within each person who is moral, I believe, is respect for other human beings.

But just as I would die for my faith, I would also die for you to have the freedom to choose yours.

We want our students to have a moral compass. Great. But adults who are too scared to share their own views of morality will never get the job done. For it is by coming up against different points of view that you form your own. Diamonds are shaped with chisels and pots are formed by the pressure of a hand. Likewise, morals are created as we grapple with the pressures of life and come to understand what we believe.

There are no easy answers here but perhaps an important conversation has begun.






The post Teaching Morals and Ethics In a World of Gray appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Formative Assessment Tools and Tips from Monica Burns #FormativeTech

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 21 March, 2017 - 21:35

Episode 37 of The 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Monica Burns, author of #FormativeTech, shares essential tools and tips for effective formative assessment. Learn how to get results. Pick some tools. Accelerate learning. Monica’s book comes out today!

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In today’s show on formative assessment, Monica will discuss:
  • What is successful formative assessment
  • What are some of Monica’s favorite tools for formative assessment
  • How should teachers select their formative assessment tool belt
  • What is the biggest mistake teachers make when using formative assessment
  • What you should do with the data from formative assessment so that it improves learning

I hope you enjoy this episode with Monica!

Want to hear another Tech Tool Tuesday? Hear Karen Lirenman and Kristen Wideen’s top iPad apps for the elementary classroom.

Selected Links from this Episode

Download Transcript

Full Bio Monica Burns

Dr. Monica Burns is a curriculum and educational technology consultant, Apple Distinguished Educator and founder of ClassTechTips.com. As a classroom teacher, Monica used one-to-one technology to create engaging, standards-based lessons for students.

Monica has presented to teachers, administrators and tech enthusiasts at numerous national and international conferences including SXSWedu, ISTE, and EduTECH. She is a webinar host for SimpleK12 and a regular contributor to Edutopia.

Monica is the author of Deeper Learning with QR Codes and Augmented Reality: A Scannable Solution for Your Classroom (Corwin Press, 2016) and #FormativeTech: Meaningful, Sustainable, and Scannable Formative Assessment with Technology (Corwin Press, 2017).

Monica visits schools across the country to work with PreK-20 teachers to make technology integration exciting and accessible. She also provides support to organizations using technology to reach children and families in need. Her mission is to help educators place tasks before apps and promote deeper learning with technology.

You can find out more about working with Monica, and her books and resources by visiting ClassTechTips.com.

The post Formative Assessment Tools and Tips from Monica Burns #FormativeTech appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Choice and the new generation

Bluyonder Greg Whitby - 21 March, 2017 - 13:40

You may be old enough to remember when Pepsi launched a campaign in the 1980s claiming that its cola was ‘the choice of a new generation’. In the context of education, it seems obvious that ‘choice’ should be synonymous with a new generation of schooling. Choice marks a shift in the ownership of learning. In the past, the learning agenda has been driven predominantly by the system or by government policy. Students haven’t been expected to ‘own’ their learning. This probably accounts for generations of disengaged learners who felt like they had little involvement in what they learned, how they learned and at what pace. Too often, learning has been a process of doing to rather than doing with. The irony today is that we want all young people to become independent learners but too many of the learning environments are still set up towards dependency and control.

This has been made more obvious with the roll-out of the Australian Curriculum (AC). The AC defines very specific ‘learning entitlements’ or content. In NSW for instance, the ‘stronger’ HSC has reduced student choice within some subjects around topics as well as imposing a minimum benchmark for literacy and numeracy.

When learning is largely content or syllabus-driven rather than student-interest driven, we deny students the right to agency and autonomy. We know from research that this is an integral part of effective learning and teaching. As Will Richardson noted, real learning happens when there is the ‘power to choose, and we facilitate that in schools by creating the conditions and space for that to happen at a student (and a teacher) level.’

I recently spent some time with Lyn Sharratt and two of our secondary schools who were sharing their experiences on encouraging learners to read. One of the simplest strategies on the road towards agency was giving students a choice of text instead of mandating a single text to read. Teachers noticed more students were willing to step up and challenge themselves when the purpose of why and what was clearly articulated and understood. The outcome was higher levels of student (and teacher) engagement and, unsurprisingly, improved attendance in class. These teachers are now looking at how they can extend student choice to other subject areas.

Disappointingly, schooling has been largely driven by the system instead of by students, supported by their teachers. Schooling today can and should be a ‘win-win’ proposition by giving all students greater ownership over their learning , greater input into the curriculum and greater choice in pursuing passions.

Categories: Planet

Give Kids What They Deserve #MondayMotivation #kidsdeserveit

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 20 March, 2017 - 20:48

Adam Welcome on episode 36 of The 10-Minute Teacher

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today Adam Welcome @awelcome inspires us to treat kids in positive ways. As co-author of Kids Deserve It, Adam gives us all a task to do at school today. He also shares the shocking mistake he made when he started teaching. It was based on what he considers bad advice from a colleague. He discusses home visits and more.

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In today’s show, we’ll discuss:
  • What Adam believes kids deserve and how to give it to them as educators
  • What he hopes every teacher and principal will do today to start the week off right
  • A shocking mistake he made as a first year teacher and the bad advice he wished he hadn’t followed
  • Something unique he did on home visits with students when he was a principal
  • A pep talk for educators

I hope you enjoy this episode with Adam!

Want to hear another Monday Motivation? Listen to Todd Nesloney’s Monday Motivation episode. Todd is the other co-author of Kids Deserve It!

  Selected Links from this Episode

Download the Transcript

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. Full Bio Adam Welcome

Adam Welcome is a Director of Innovation, co-author of Kids Deserve It, former Elementary Principal, marathon runner!

Giveaway Contest for This Show

Kids Deserve It Pack: [A 10-Minute Teacher Giveaway Contest]

The post Give Kids What They Deserve #MondayMotivation #kidsdeserveit appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Intent vs. Impact

The Principal of Change George Couros - 20 March, 2017 - 00:25

Speaking to a group of principals, one of the participants, thanked me for my time, and gave a very elegant “call-to-action” to the group.  It was not simply discussing what I talked about, but what they needed to do to move forward.

One of her quotes that resonated with me was, “Intention is not good enough; we need to look at our impact.”  It jolted me.  There are very few people in the world that don’t want to do important things, yet what is the impact of our intentions?  Everyone wants to be a great teacher, but do all educators do things that keep them up to date and moving forward in their work? This would obviously apply to any profession.

I have always believed that you could have been a great teacher ten years ago, changed nothing, and now be irrelevant.

This is one of my favourite quotes from a college dropout who felt a post-secondary education was no longer relevant to what he needed to be successful in our world today:

“Wanting” is not good enough on it’s own; the impact of our actions are how progress is always measured.

Categories: Planet

Teaching in the 21st Century — The Learner's Way

Classroom 2.0 Diigo Group - 19 March, 2017 - 16:14


  • The consistent message is that we are preparing our students for success in a world very different to that which was the norm only a short time ago. The implications of this change are immense and require a shift in our thinking about what matters most in our classrooms. Such is the pace of change that within any school there will be multiple generations who normalise different perspective on technology and its place in their lives. What becomes clear that the skills we most need within our schools at every level are those which are critical for individuals to be empowered, self-navigating learners. But what does this mean in practical terms? - Nigel Coutts

Tags: education, teaching, learning

by: Nigel Coutts

Categories: International News

Hip Hip Array

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 18 March, 2017 - 02:33

My programming courses are a semester long. That’s it. After that someone else gets to teach them more programming and computer science. A semester is not a lot of time  so we can only cover so much material. There are days when I really envy my friends who have students for years as in 2, 3, or even 4 year long courses. On the other hand I am finding that I am appreciating the basics more and more all the time.

Take arrays for example. I’ve been around long enough and coded enough that I understand arrays pretty well. I’ve done the who pointer arithmetic thing in C. And the use of offsets in assembly language programming. So I understand what is behind arrays in ways I don’t have near enough time to explain to my students. I think this understanding gives me a greater appreciation for this tool in my toolbox. I literally spent an hour or so last night just contemplating the beauty and power of a simple array. Add to that the power of arrays of objects and mind blown.

OK maybe I get excited easily. On the other hand in many ways writing code seems as new and cool to me as it did when I tool my first programming course over 40 years ago. If anything I am developing new appreciation for the simple less complicated elements of programming languages.  One doesn’t need all the latest and greatest bells and whistles of languages and libraries to have fun writing code.

Though that doesn’t mean I am giving up features like Array.Sort. I’m not totally crazy.

Categories: Planet

5 Ideas to Amp Up Chromebooks

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 17 March, 2017 - 21:44

John Sowash shares ideas on the 10-Minute Teacher Episode 35

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today John Sowash @jrsowash talks formative assessment, multimedia, and the must-have apps for Chromebooks. Today he gives us five ideas to amp up our Chromebook classroom. Many of these tools and tips will work for any device that can access the Web.

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Today’s Giveaway Contest

We’re giving away two copies of John’s book The Chromebook Classroom. Enter below.

10-Minute Teacher Giveaway: The Chromebook Classroom Book by John Sowash

In today’s show, we’ll discuss:
  • Formative assessment
  • Multimedia Projects
  • Station Learning
  • Screencasting Ideas
  • As he says, “Lectures that don’t suck”

I hope you enjoy this episode with John!

Want to hear more about edtech and apps? Listen to Jennifer Gonzalez talk about 5 Edtech Tools to Try Selected Links from this Episode

Download the Transcript

Full Bio John Sowash

John Sowash is an experienced classroom teacher, former school administrator, author of The Chromebook Classroom, and founder of the Google Certification Academy. John inspires educators to use technology connect with and challenge students. Schools around the world have invited John to come and share with them. You can connect with John via his blog (electriceducator.com) or Twitter (@jrsowash).

Josh has a free 5 lesson email course to help teacher develop their Chromebook Classroom. A great resource to help teachers begin exploring the potential of chromebooks in the classroom – http://www.chrmbook.com/developing-your-chromebook-classroom-2/

The post 5 Ideas to Amp Up Chromebooks appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

GIVEAWAY: The Chromebook Classroom Book by John Sowash

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 17 March, 2017 - 11:22

A 10-Minute Teacher Show Giveaway

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

John Sowash will be on the 10-Minute Teacher show on Friday morning sharing his ideas for a Chromebook classroom. As part of our ongoing celebration of the launch of the show, John has agreed to give away two copies of his book The Chromebook Classroom.

For this giveaway, I’m testing a new tool, Gleam, to run this giveaway competition. Many of you have already shared the show. Thank you so much! But I would like to have a fun way to reward those who do share it. I hope some of you will test it out and let me know what you think!

10-Minute Teacher Giveaway: The Chromebook Classroom Book by John Sowash

Some of the links on this post are affiliate links.

The post GIVEAWAY: The Chromebook Classroom Book by John Sowash appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

The Paralysis of Fear

The Principal of Change George Couros - 17 March, 2017 - 00:37

Image by twitter.com/alytormala

“Perfect is the enemy of done.”

I saw this quote and it has stuck in my thinking.  Often we hold back our ideas because we are scared of being criticized, sometimes for the major components, but sometimes for little things that people will nitpick.  If that held people back, nothing would ever get done.

For example, when the iPhone first came out, here were some of the criticisms:

  • “Is there a toaster that also knows how to brew coffee? There is no such combined device, because it would not make anything better than an individual toaster or coffee machine. It works the same way with the iPod, the digital camera or mobile phone: it is important to have specialized devices.” —Jon Rubinstein, former iPod engineer
  • “iPhone is nothing more than a luxury bauble that will appeal to a few gadget freaks.” — Matthew Lynn, Bloomberg
  • “There’s no memory-card slot, no chat program, no voice dialing. You can’t install new programs from anyone but Apple…The browser can’t handle Java or Flash, which deprives you of millions of Web videos.” —David Pogue, The New York Times
  • No stylus is provided.” —Edward Baig, USA Today

Now would I want the original iPhone over the one I have now? Absolutely not. But without the first one coming out, we do not have the iteration we have now, which at one point, we will laugh at for being so outdated. Yet, as of August 2016, it has been projected that over a billion iPhones have been sold.  Seems like it has appealed to more than a few “gadget freaks”.

If I had to choose one, I would rather be a creator than a critic. Personally, I embrace there are flaws and imperfections with what I create, write, share, and do.  To be the first one to acknowledge this also gives me ownership and ensures that I do not become paralyzed by my own thoughts.

I would not want to be the one that holds back the ideas of another person because I have instilled a fear of imperfection in their practice; this is weak leadership at best.  Life is in beta; flaws will happen along the way. Embrace it, move on, and move forward.  Without that willingness, nothing from our imagination would ever become a reality.

Categories: Planet

How Perla Zamora and Her students in Mexico are Tearing Down Walls

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 16 March, 2017 - 22:09

Episode #34 The 10-Minute Teacher on Global Collaboration

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today Perla Zamora @pzamoraats from Tampico, Mexico is tearing down walls. For thought leader Thursday, today, ask yourself how you’re connecting your classroom to the world.

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In today’s show, we’ll discuss:
  • Ways Perla is connecting her classroom to other classrooms
  • Overcoming fears of connecting with other classrooms
  • The most important thing she’s learned as she connects her students to other classrooms

I hope you enjoy this episode with Perla!
If you want to hear another Thought Leader Thursday episode, listen to Dr. Brad Johnson talk about 5 Things That Harm a Child’s Ability to Succeed.

Selected Links from this Episode

Download the Transcript

Full Bio Perla Zamora

Ms. Perla Zamora @pzamoraats is a passionate teacher and Technology advisor in the American School of Tampico. Her curiosity took her into “The Flat Connection Project” in 2012. That was the beginning of a journey for her students to interact and learn while, appreciating and valuing different cultures. Her adventurous spirit lead her to be in contact with teachers around the world. Her experience in this field is documented in the book “The Global Educator”.

The post How Perla Zamora and Her students in Mexico are Tearing Down Walls appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Powerful Language Learning in the 21st Century

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

Rachelle Dene Poth talks language learning and STEAM on 10MT

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today Rachelle Dene Poth @rdene915 talks about teaching Spanish and STEAM with technology, student choice, and project based learning. For Wonderful Wednesday, take a trip inside her classroom to learn how she does it all.

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As we learn about language learning, Rachelle shares:
  • How her language classroom is full of choice
  • Rachelle’s favorite tech tools for language learning and how her students use them
  • Some fantastic new tools and features she’s using this week in her classroom

I hope you enjoy this episode with Rachelle!

Want another Wonderful Wednesday trip inside a classroom? Try Creating a Student Centered Library Where Kids Love to Learn with librarian Micki Uppena.

Selected Links from this Episode

Download the transcript

Full Bio Rachelle Dene Poth

Rachelle Dene Poth @rdene915 is a Spanish and STEAM Teacher at Riverview Junior Senior High School in Oakmont, PA. She is also an Attorney and has a Master’s Degree in Instructional Technology.

Additionally, Rachelle is:

  • Communications Chair for the ISTE Mobile Learning Network,
  • a Member at Large for Games & Sims,
  • the Innovations and Resources Co-Chair for the Teacher Education Network and
  • the PAECT (PA ISTE affiliate) Historian.

Rachelle is proud to be involved in several communities including being a Buncee Ambassador, Common Sense Media Educator, CoSpaces Ambassador, Amazon Inspire Educator, Edmodo Certified Trainer, Nearpod PioNear, Recap Pioneer, TES Ambassador and ​ambassador for ​several other learning communities.

Recently, she was named the 2017 Outstanding Teacher of the Year by PAECT and had a chapter published in the Edumatch “Snapshot in Education” book and enjoys blogging.

Rachelle enjoys presenting at conferences and finding opportunities for students to be involved in sharing their work at student technology showcases, presentations and through blogging.

Link to graduate work and experience https://sites.google.com/site/itportfoliorachellepoth/

The post Powerful Language Learning in the 21st Century appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet
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