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9 Learning Tools Every 21st Century Teacher Should Be Able To Use

Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 23 February, 2015 - 16:48


  • The 21st century teacher is in the critical spot–of mastering constantly evolving technology and digital learning tools–the same tools their students use every day.
    In this post 9 such tools are discussed. The list is not meant to be exhaustive or even authoritative and is subjective. As this is the 21st century, things will change but, here and now, the authors suggest that this is a fairly accurate litmus test of what the kinds of tools the average 21st century teacher can be expected to use and master." - Rhondda Powling

Tags: educational technology, mobile learning, teaching, classroom activities

by: Rhondda Powling

Categories: International News

An Easy and Quick Way to Grade Quizzes on Google Drive Using Super Quiz Tool ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning

Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 23 February, 2015 - 16:19


  • "Super Quiz is an excellent Google Sheets add-on that allows teachers to add some amazing functionalities to the quizzes they create through Google Forms. One example: when you create a quiz, you only need to complete it once with an answer key and all future submissions will be automatically graded according to the answers you provided. Another important feature of Super Quiz is that it enables you to get a break down of class understanding and a list of incorrect students' answers  for each question in case you want to stage an intervention." - Rhondda Powling

Tags: educational technology, quizzes, Google Drive, classroom activities

by: Rhondda Powling

Categories: International News

Social Media for Teachers: Guides, Resources, and Ideas | Edutopia

Classroom 2.0 Diigo Group - 23 February, 2015 - 14:37


  • "[I]t can be a challenge to incorporate social media into lessons. There are many gray areas for teachers to navigate, like setting guidelines, accessibility at school, and student safety. But to help teachers navigate this ever-changing landscape of social media tools, here are some of the best guides on the web for four popular networks, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest" (¶2, 2015.02.23). - Paul Beaufait

Tags: education, educators, Edutopia, Facebook, guides, Instagram, online, parents, Pinterest, social media, technology, teachers, tips, Twitter

by: Paul Beaufait

Categories: International News

A Visual Chart on Summative Vs Formative Assessment ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning

Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 23 February, 2015 - 12:27


  • "An infogragphic to help explain the differences between formative and summative assessment. Formative assessment as assessment for learning and summative assessment as assessment of learning" - Rhondda Powling

Tags: formative assessment, summative assessment, assessment, learning, infographic

by: Rhondda Powling

Categories: International News

53 Ways to Check for Understanding | Edutopia

Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 23 February, 2015 - 11:42


  • Formative assessment ideas. Edutopia’s document contains 53 strategies to check for student understanding and is available for free download from here. - Rhondda Powling

Tags: assessment, formative assessment, learning

by: Rhondda Powling

Categories: International News

6 Actions To Help Your Learners Develop an Online Profile

Edte.ch Tom Barrett - 22 February, 2015 - 21:57

After reading about the repair work taking place on behalf of Lindsey Stone’s online profile (Hindsight is a wonderful thing), I was left wondering what it would be like if it all just, went away. I wonder about the fragility of our online profile and the roles they have within our lives.

There is another Tom Barrett. He is an American politician in fact and is the current Mayor of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Who knows how are Google search results compare anymore, but if you run a search on “Tom Barrett” thankfully all the images are mayoral in nature and all the links are mine.

In the past I have been tweeted at, accused of terrible social policies or something along those lines. Which is rather unfortunate around election time. I wonder if the Democrat has ever had a conversation about his online profile and how he has to manage his. Presumably I am kind of getting in the way a little.

Learning About Developing an Online Profile

We have to help our students navigate these tricky waters. And they are quite tricky as the charts that are often set soon become obsolete and out of date. The speed with which social and online web development moves, paired with the shifting sands of trends means as a teacher or leader within a school it is indeed tricky remaining up to date.

But perhaps that is often the perceived mindset. We don’t know something so it is foreign and strange and out of our reach. The latest photo sharing app is alien to us, or the way youngsters interact within games feels unusual. However much the technology changes three elements should remain enduring.

  1. A common sense approach to the way we talk to our students about their online profile and a channel to discuss it (this goes for the teachers too).
  2. A willingness to model an open, positive experience of the use of social media in support of learning.
  3. The ability to access and use social media in the school environment so it doesn’t become sidelined or a behind the bike sheds occurrence.
  4. Active development of a public profile in the company of mentors, not something behind a walled garden.
  5. Building personal portfolios is seen as an open endeavour across the organisation, a personal profile in school is no different than an online identity.
  6. A clear, consistent understanding of online ethics is shared across all staff and the importance of an online profile is widely appreciated and wholly embraced.

It is hard to sail into uncharted waters but we can help our students understand the hidden currents and tricky tides whilst with us in a place of learning. If we don’t do this, if we step further and further back from this responsibility, either through a lack of knowledge or willingness, we aren’t helping the students in our care.

If we as educators choose not to care about developing an online profile, if we ourselves are not actively positive about the huge potential it has, running aground might be more common than we would like.

What other key elements of our work with students comes to mind? What other enduring areas of development do you see central to supporting this for our students?

The post 6 Actions To Help Your Learners Develop an Online Profile appeared first on The Curious Creative.

Categories: Planet

Northern Lights: The Positive Policy Example

Darcy Moore's Blog - 22 February, 2015 - 11:27

This book is written in the belief that the nations of Scandinavia and Finland, or Nordic Europe*, do continue to provide important living proof that economically successful, socially fair and environmentally responsible policies can succeed.

Northern Lights: The Positive Policy Example of Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway by Andrew Scott will brighten our national mood, if politicians and bureaucrats would read and learn from the political leadership in these progressive countries.

The book concisely covers, in a scholarly manner, Australia’s history of interest in the policy examples of Nordic Europe. There is a focus on child wellbeing policies, including education; employment and re-skilling, especially for older workers; and, a great chapter on ‘public good’ that looks at taxation and the regulation of natural wealth. This seems particularly important to consider in our resource-rich, Australian context.


For those who think that looking to Nordic Europe is contextually problematic for Australia, Scott points out that these nations have “a combined population of 25 million” which is very similar to our own. Scott rejects the claim that ethnic homogeneity or having less multicultural societies is a factor.  Scott shows that “three of the four Nordic nations have significantly higher acceptance rates of asylum seekers” than Australia, with Sweden and Norway at double the numbers. There are challenges in these countries but a “strong anti-racist record, dating back to Nordic leadership of the anti-Apartheid campaign and generous donations of quality aid” to the poorest nations is indicative of their value system.

I would say that many Australians feel very uncomfortable with changed polices from the Australian government, in recent years, that curtail aid and appear to punish refugees unfairly. It goes against our national myth of egalitarianism or ‘a fair go’ for all. This makes the Nordic example very appealing.

Scott points out that we look to compare ourselves with English-speaking countries, especially Britain and the USA, which have poor social outcomes for health, equality, employment, education and quality of life compared with other nations. Australians work much longer hours and are increasingly working in casualised or part time employment. Our resources boom was poorly managed and the current government is seriously curtailing investment in alternative energy sources. Australians are social democrats by nature and are looking for sensible policy which will do more to enhance the ‘public good’ for all.

The recent election in Queensland, where the radical neoliberal policies of the Newman government were rejected in a stunning dismissal after just one term, are a clear indication that Australians are looking for more balanced, inclusive and sensible policy. The federal government is also polling disastrously with many commentators, even the journalists that usually form the cheer squad, despairing at the dysfunctional policy agenda.  Article after article lists socially divisive, inequitable or regressive policy decisions as a root cause of this unpopularity. Integrity and ethical behaviour are also perceived as casualties on the current ideological battlegrounds.

Education, Work and the Environment

“…we cannot go on underinvesting in people without serious and lasting social and economic consequences.” (Tim Colebatch quoted by Scott)

The chapters on education and child wellbeing are filled with familiar data and arguments. As an educator, these policy debates and decisions are extremely important and I have followed them closely for three decades. Scott explores the issues of equity for students, ‘Gonski’ and the growth of the independent sector in Australia. Once again, our policy decisions are heavily influenced by English-speaking nations or increasingly influenced by the results of authoritarian nations from tests like PISA. He details Finland’s educational success at some length.

Pasi Sahlberg, visiting in 2012, made it clear his belief that our educational policy in was “not healthy” with the increasing emphasis on competition in what has become a very competitive marketplace. Scott focuses on Sahlberg’s commentary about education generally, and in Australia. This Finnish educator is quoted extensively about assessment, teacher quality, respect and allowing students and teachers to be risk-takers with their learning. It is particularly important to see how each child is supported, especially if they fall behind, by well-trained teachers, in Finland. Equity, training and the status of teachers are key ingredients.

Scott discusses Denmark too but there was nothing new for me in this part of his book. I have written many times about how impressive the civics education (and strength of democratic participation) is in Denmark. Our own school has learnt much from the Danish model and is actively nurturing democracy with a variety of programs. The socially democratic and inclusive nature of politics is evident in the school system which is much more egalitarian than in Australia. Scott also mentions that the Danes have benefitted from the educational philosophy of 19th century thinker NFS Grundtvig who sowed the seeds of freedom, poetry and creativity in educational life. This was very evident from my experiences in Denmark, Grundtvig promoted equality and opposed all compulsion, including exams, as “deadening to the human soul”. His influence lives on in Denmark today.

The chapter on employment and policy is important and deserving of more than just the few words I will write here. The ‘flexicurity’ of the Danish system for re-skilling workers who lose their jobs, as industries rise and fall, is particularly interesting and an important policy. The ideal of life-long learning, genuinely supported by the state, is on show and I saw this while living with the Danes with their sound organisation of educational opportunities for the unemployed and older workers.

The Danes really have a cohesive philosophy and egalitarian value system that permeates their society. Scott discusses how Denmark has the lowest income disparity of all the OECD nations. I can tell you, after living there in 2011, that the High Court judge who I spent half-a-day with wasn’t paid much more a day than my barber. Haircuts were expensive. I did meet people in business who wished their labour expenses were less but acknowledge the social harmony (even though it made it hard for them to compete in the international marketplace).

The purist market liberal economic ideology which has predominated in English-speaking countries since the 1980s is often, quite falsely, presented as if it is the only option for nation states to follow.

How a country manages the wealth generated by the extraction of natural resources is at the heart of the policy changes needed in Australia. Scott makes this cear. He focuses on resource-rich Norway’s successful management of natural ‘endowments for the nation’s long-term benefit’. Norway remains a global leader in fighting climate change and funds innovation generously from moneys raised. Scott discusses how they have done this by the nation’s cross-party support, dating back to the 1970s, for ‘basic principles’ that protect the environment and ensure national benefits from resources, like oil. This he contrasts with the ‘polarised party politics’ of Australia in the last half century. He notes the small percentage of wealth effectively taxed for the public good here. Scott concludes that “Australia should strive to strengthen its arrangements for resource taxation.” “


Andrew Scott’s book is an important one for Australians and is recommended for educators, politicians and anyone interested in good public policy (which is hopefully all of us). It just makes sense for a social democratic nation to look for policy that assists the common-weal and limits the ‘rat-eat-rat’ philosophy of the un-mediated marketplace. The point made in conclusion, by this reviewer, outlines what so many, across the political spectrum, hope for in the near future:

In ‘Northern Lights’ Scott has outlined possible new policy approaches for Australia in sound scholarly fashion. Could it be that all we need now is a politician with the vision, courage and eloquence to revive our egalitarian spirit and lead us beyond neoliberalism to social democracy? 

Featured image: creative commons licensed (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by d33pan: http://flickr.com/photos/d33pan/5573870088

*Iceland is the fifth Nordic country and not part of the study.

The post Northern Lights: The Positive Policy Example appeared first on Darcy Moore's Blog.

Categories: Planet

Crowd Accelerated Innovation

The Principal of Change George Couros - 22 February, 2015 - 02:49

Sitting with a group of administrators yesterday, discussing having a school hashtag, I asked the following;

What if every teacher tweeted one thing a day that they did in their classroom to a school hashtag, and they took five minutes out of their day to read each other’s tweets?  What impact would that have on learning and school culture?

As I thought about it, this seems simple yet could have a major impact.  Not only would we get a daily window into each other’s classrooms and accelerate learning, but this could accelerate relationships amongst staff, students, and community.  We would not only share our stories, but we would partake in short reflection every single day.

It reminded me of a quote from Chris Anderson:

Crowd Accelerated Innovation – a self-fuelling cycle of learning that could be as significant as  the invention of print.  But to tap its power, organizations will need to embrace radical openness.”

The tools are all there to make it happen, we just need the thinking and the action.  Could this simple thing make a big difference in culture and community?

Categories: Planet

The Mindset of Failing

Edte.ch Tom Barrett - 21 February, 2015 - 21:46

Learning about sport when I was young mainly involved cricket and football, I never really experienced tennis. My son has been playing since he was about 4 and this season has been enjoying playing as part of a local team in a Junior Competition every Saturday. I think he is experiencing what failing feels like through his time playing tennis.

I have been getting to know what it is like being a tennis Dad this season and watching a lot of tennis, naturally. One thing you notice with this sport compared to football is the number of small victories and failures there are. It is much more about the cumulative effort, gradually building up points, overcoming the failures you experience.

If you play tennis you will know that failure and winning/losing points is an integral part of this sport. This is different to the experience of football I had growing up, where the end result was the only thing that mattered, there were not many measures of progress. Sure you could tell which team was dominating play, but it was not as clear as you win a point or you lose a point.

I have always found it fascinating that in tennis you could be one point from defeat and yet still come back to win a match. My son starting his match today losing 3 early games and before long he was losing 4-2, but he suddenly woke up and won the remaining 4 on the bounce to win 6-4.

Do multiple small setbacks during tennis create a more resilient approach? I wonder if the mindset of a tennis player sees failing and losing differently to a football player?

The post The Mindset of Failing appeared first on The Curious Creative.

Categories: Planet

A meeting of the Hare and the Tortoise

Classroom 2.0 Diigo Group - 21 February, 2015 - 17:03


  • Schools like any large organisation by and large run on meetings. Recently we have implemented two very different styles of meeting that target different needs and have allowed us to be effective, reflective and creative. - Nigel Coutts

Tags: education, teaching, collaboration

by: Nigel Coutts

Categories: International News

Today’s BASIC Is Not Your Father’s BASIC

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 21 February, 2015 - 04:55

A post at Doug Peterson’s blog (A Different Time) sent me to a site that has a collection of old BASIC programs. And by old I mean the 1970s. I remember many of these programs as I was starting my programming career back then. One could take these programs and type them into their computer and run them. It was fun and we learned a lot. But I’ll tell you the language has changed a lot since then.

For example back then a comment was a REM statement. Short for REMARK of course. Today most version of Basic use a single quote to flag a comment. Today variable names can be of any length while back then one was limited to a single letter followed by a number or numbers. Variables were declared using a Dim statement as they are today but the type was specific by a $ for string, a % for integers and floating point numbers had neither of those special symbols. One can’t use them in variable names today of course.

Originally BASIC did not have subroutines as we know them today. We had the GOSUB statement which branched code to a line number (we don’t use line numbers at all any more) and a return statement brought the flow of execution back to the line after the GOSUB. There was no parameter passing and variables were basically global. There were functions of a sort. Those were defined in a single line like this:

180 DEF FNM(X)=X-8*INT((X-1)/8)

The functions were all named FN followed by some letter. Return values were loosely typed. It sure was easy to use though.

I’m looking though these old projects for ideas for updated versions to use with my current students. Some I will use with Visual Basic and some with C#. And just maybe some with TouchDevelep. Some things never get old.

Today’s versions of BASIC are both much more powerful and much more complicated than those early versions were. Stronger types, more powerful functions and subroutines,  lots more flexibility in identifier names and real error handling.  Small Basic is an attempt, and a good one, at returning in part to those simpler days.  It still has more power and complexity but many things are much easier. Visual Basic is a very powerful professional level language and development environment. It too makes some things much easier than they were “back in the day” but in other ways the complexity can be intimidating and even frustrating for beginner.  It seems to work well with my high school freshmen though as long as I stick to the basics.

I wonder how many people judge the idea of BASIC based on thirty (or forty) year old versions of the language? Today’s versions, especially Visual Basic are every bit as powerful and modern as Java or many other popular languages. And still easier to learn. I still like them.

Categories: Planet

What All Flourishing Creative Environments Need

Edte.ch Tom Barrett - 20 February, 2015 - 22:08

One of the strongest outcomes of our work with schools, in developing their use of Design Thinking led enquiry across the curriculum, is the empowerment of the learner. Providing purposeful opportunities for students to bring their passions to school.

After all, when do we truly give complete choice over what takes place in schools? When do learners have total autonomy about what they want to learn and how to do it?

Being able to follow your own heart and your own questions should be something we feel, and an everyday opportunity in schools. But there is an important aspect which must be central to providing twenty percent time or Genius Hour in schools, and that is developing a strong sense of self in parallel.

In their employee handbook the Valve Corporation, an American video game development and digital distribution company, outline a vision for their new hires, not of twenty percent time but of one hundred percent time. New employees have complete autonomy over the projects they choose to get involved in and those they might instigate.

…when you’re an entertainment company that’s spent the last decade going out of its way to recruit the most intelligent, innovative, talented people on Earth, telling them to sit at a desk and do what they’re told obliterates 99 percent of their value. We want innovators, and that means maintaining an environment where they’ll flourish.

But a flourishing creative environment only comes about when CHOICE, RESPONSIBILITY and RESPECT are evident in equal measure. Valve speak about the importance of hiring, the centre of their universe and the importance of recruiting high calibre people who can take this type of opportunity to grow the business.

In schools we need to support children to take full advantage of learning that offers the same type of opportunity. Autonomy to bring their passions to school, to know how to share and follow their own enquiry and questions, to understand how their learning can have an impact on the world around them.

We are not “hiring” children, we do not recruit them with a set of appropriate skills already in place for this type of responsibility – we need to consider how we help our students learn about learning and be reflective of their own impact, practice and personal growth.

This takes time, but is vital in our endeavour to offer greater responsibility for learning to young students.Valve have a nice metaphor to describe the concept of one hundred percent time or what is more commonly named “open allocation”.

Why does your desk have wheels? Think of those wheels as a symbolic reminder that you should always be considering where you could move yourself to be more valuable. But also think of those wheels as literal wheels, because that’s what they are, and you’ll be able to actually move your desk with them.

The post What All Flourishing Creative Environments Need appeared first on The Curious Creative.

Categories: Planet

Let the Caged Birds Sing! Giving Special Needs Kids a Voice

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 20 February, 2015 - 12:58

What will be the most significant classroom innovation in the next 10 years?

“The caged bird sings with a fearful trill,
of things unknown, but longed for still,
and his tune is heard on the distant hill,
for the caged bird sings of freedom.”

Maya Angelou, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

The story is well known now that Stephen Hawking, who many consider the most brilliant theoretical physicist since Albert Einstein, has been able to continue his illustrious career despite a debilitating diagnosis in 1963, due to technology that has assisted his communication.

This post is series of questions that Cathy Rubin is asking several education bloggers. I’ll be sharing the link to her post that collects all of the responses. I appreciate being part of this group of edubloggers.

Like Hawking, many students are trapped in the prison of a body that does not unleash their capability. Unlike Hawking, they don’t have access to the technology that will do that. Thousands of caged birds sit quietly in today’s classrooms. Their wings flit, eager for a voice to share the song in their heart. Now that it is more affordable, shouldn’t more people have access to the technology that has helped Stephen Hawking live more fully?

Recently I interviewed Karole Pearce, the mother of such a student, Lanie. Lanie’s classmates raised $5,000 so Lanie could regain her ability to speak after her mobile eye-tracking device broke. While excited about the device and her child’s ability to speak, Karole shocked me with her offhand comment that Lanie was sometimes “lazy” and could do more. Are we letting the disability of those like Lanie make us unable to see their ability?

In the 1980’s and before, we typed into computers using the command line interface (CLI). And then transitioned to the mouse and the graphical user interface (GUI). Now, with Siri and gesture-based computing we are using the Natural User Interface (NUI). But a new age is upon us and it is not just smart watches that measure your heartbeat. Just take a look at the tear-inducing YouTube videos of those receiving cochlear implants. Neil Harbisson (called the “world’s first human cyborg”) is painting with sound. The biologic user interface (BUI) is here.

While Matrix-like implications will raise ethical dilemmas we cannot understand perhaps our biggest ethical dilemma is this: Can we justify caging the birds when it is within our power to open the gate and let them sing?

If we unleash the potential of the BUI, then a generation of disenfranchised people will find their voice. BUIs will unleash an exciting age for those with special needs. I say “exciting” with tempered joy because those with special needs and their families have many struggles few others can understand. As I hear mothers like Karole excited about talking with their child for the first time, it is joy I hear.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

In the next ten years, I hope we work to give all children a voice and listen to them sing. We have the technology. Do we have the will?


The post Let the Caged Birds Sing! Giving Special Needs Kids a Voice appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog.

Categories: Planet

2015 CSTA annual conference – Registration is Open

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 20 February, 2015 - 02:27

Registration is now open for the CSTA annual conference. CSTA 2015 is a professional development opportunity for computer science and information technology teachers who need practical, classroom-focused information to help them prepare their students for the future. Conference content is peer reviewed and peer or industry led, making it relevant to today's classroom needs. This year we are staying true to being "bigger and better than ever" so we have expanded our conference to span three days, with two days worth of workshops, more exhibitors, along with multiple networking opportunities.


  • Explore issues and trends relating directly to your classroom
  • Learn, network and interact
  • Choose from various workshops and breakout sessions
  • Amazing value (complimentary conference Wi-Fi, breakfast, lunch and snacks - CHECK!) at approximately $100/day!

Some of this year's session topics include:

  • Advanced Placement Computer Science
  • Computational Thinking
  • Increasing Enrollment in Computer Science
  • Programming
  • Robotics


  • Megan Smith, Chief Technology Officer of the United States - Invited
  • Randy Pitchford, Aaron Thibault and Jimmy Sieben with Gearbox

Pre-registration is required and will be accepted for the first 500 teachers. The registration deadline is June 26, 2015. Also, please note that you must complete the payment portion of the online form in order to be fully registered for the conference!

As always, we thank our sponsors for their generous donations. Your registration fee will include networking opportunities, lunch and resource materials. The 2015 CSTA Annual Conference is made possible by the generous support of Google, Lockheed Martin, Oracle Academy and the University of Texas at Dallas.


Conference registration (which includes a community session on Sunday (July 12) afternoon, Monday night's event with the University of Texas at Dallas, and all general and plenary sessions on Tuesday(July 14) is $100 if you register by April 15. From April 16-June 26 the price is $150, and after that the price increases to $225.

Workshops are a separate price, and this year we have expanded our offerings to include options on Sunday, as well as Monday. The price for workshops is $100 for the first one, and $50 for each additional workshop (maximum number of three).

Please note that all workshops are "bring your own laptop" and that workshop registration is limited to 30-40 participants; so be sure to register early to get your workshop choice. As an additional reminder, we DO NOT accept workshop registrations onsite, and there is NO switching of options.

Register at: www.cstaconference.org

For more information contact Tiffany Nash, CSTA Events and Communications Manager at t.nash@csta-hq.org

P.S. A big thank you to the 2015 Conference Planning Committee:

  • Doug Peterson, Program Chair
  • J. Philip East, Workshop Chair
  • Duncan Buell, Review Chair
  • Mindy Hart, Volunteer Coordinator
  • Stephanie Hoeppner
  • Tammy Pirmann
  • Dave Reed, CSTA Professional Development Committee Chair
  • Hal Speed, Central Texas Chapter Conference Liaison
  • Sheena Vaidyanathan
  • Henry Vo, Dallas Fort Worth Chapter Conference Liaison
  • Lizan Ward, Greater Houston Chapter Conference Liaison
  • Lissa Clayborn, Acting Executive Director, CSTA

We look forward to seeing you in Grapevine!

The CSTA 2015 Annual Conference is generously sponsored by:

Categories: Planet

3 Ways to Be a Better You

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 19 February, 2015 - 23:11

“Before I can live with other folks, I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience,” says Atticus Finch, the stalwart character in To Kill a Mockingbird. Today, I reflect upon three decisions that have made my life — and can make yours — more epic.   (This is an extension of 3 Steps to Make 2015 Epic, I dedicate this to a dear person in my life working to find herself.)

As leadership author John Maxwell says in his book How Successful People Think, “you can spend your life any way you want but you can only spend it once.” Spend your life well. Be a better you.

“You can spend your life any way you want but you can only spend it once.” John Maxwell Powered By the Tweet This PluginTweet This 1. BE YOU

The conference ended, and I’d been talking to some awesome educators in Memphis. The people were so engrossing that I was running late to the airport! As I’m doing the TSA shuffle, I’m not making eye contact. The line is as slow as  a one legged hound dog on tranquilizers. There seems to be something slowing the line down just on the other side of the metal detector.  But all of a sudden, as I rush through the metal detector and pick up my bags, I hear this Elvis Presley voice behind me,

“Thank you, thank you very much…”

I turned to the voice of Elvis. There he was, buttons busting at the waist — a TSA agent who looked just like Elvis. Same pompadour, same glasses. He even had the snarly grin down. When he saw my glance, he and gave me that superstar smile and pointed his ring encrusted fingers at me. I slowed the line down as I stared in wonder. What would possess a TSA agent to dress like Elvis every day? He was an imitation Elvis.

As I hustled off in disbelief, I started thinking about all of the people who make their lives as an imitation Elvis. Indeed, the best of them can make some big bucks in Vegas from what I’ve heard. But some of these men (and women) have stellar voices. What would have happened if they decided to be “ME” instead of “HIM”?  We’ve already had an Elvis, but we haven’t had YOU!

Elvis Presley laughed about his intended career,

“I was training to be an electrician. I suppose I got wired the wrong way round somewhere along the line.”

Elvis could have been a second rate electrician or a first-rate Elvis. Don’t be Elvis — be you!  Find your purpose. Read great books. Try lots of new things. Look to others for inspiration but be YOU.

The picture above is my “new office”. We’ve moved my desk from a tiny corner of our workout room to my youngest son’s old room. (I have two of three in college now! Wow!)

I love this wall because it is MINE. When we first moved in, someone else helped me decorate. I didn’t love my house as much as I do now because now my house is ME! Shakespeare says

“No legacy is so rich as honesty.”

Be honest with yourself about your strengths, gifts, and your own calling.

When you are honest with yourself you can start truly building your legacy. Make a determination today that you will determine to be yourself. Ask yourself questions about yourself. Am I being true to my talents and calling? Do I surround myself with things that represent me? Do I put thoughts and books in my mind that help me be a better me? Who am I trying to imitate? Can I break out and do something that is more uniquely me? You have a unique purpose — find it! BE YOU! 2. BE ETHICAL

There’s a funny story where a little girl begs her teacher to tie her shoe. The teacher replies,

“You’ll have to do it yourself, dear,” to which the girl replies, “Oh dear! I don’t know what I’d do without myself!”

So, YOU have this one life for YOU to live. The most winning basketball coach of all time, John Wooden,  had his 7-point creed that I keep beside my desk between my two computer monitors. I read it every day. (pictured below)

John Wooden’s 7 point Creed. 1. Be true to yourself. 2. Make each day your masterpiece. 3. Help others. 4. Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible. 5. Make friendship a fine art. 6. Build a shelter for a rainy day. 7. Pray for guidance and give thanks for your blessings every day.

John Boyle O’Reilly was an outspoken poet, journalist and fiction writer advocating freedom for the Irish People. In his poem “Rules of the Road” he says:

“Be silent and safe – silence never betrays you;
Be true to your word and your work and your friend;
Put least trust in him who is foremost to praise you,
nor judge of a road till it draw to the end.”

O’Reilly and Wooden and many great men and women of history knew their beliefs. They knew what to do with themselves. William Shakespeare says,

“Mine honor is my life; both grow in one;
take honor from me and my life is done.”

Part of living an epic life is knowing not only who to live for but how to live. “How to Live” is actually the title of one of my favorite songs from “Point of Grace.” I play this song as I make decisions and ponder life.

Turn up the music
Turn it up loud
Take a few chances
And let it all out
Cause you won’t regret it
Lookin back from where you have been
Cause it’s not who you knew
And it’s not what you did
It’s how you lived

Twelve years a go, I realized that the best days of my life were those I started on my knees in prayer and reading my Bible. I also realized that the only time of the day that was mine was the morning before everyone else woke up. So, if I wanted to live the best life I could, I was going to change my morning routine and get up an hour before the rest of my family. I set my alarm clock for five a.m. Beginning my day grounded doesn’t make me a perfect. (Far from it!)  But it makes me wiser. It gives me strength for the hard moments that come  like a tornado out of a blue sky.

Be intentional about your morning. Where do you draw strength?

Ask yourself these questions. How do you want to live? What are the things you believe? What are the best days of your life? How do they begin? Can you change your days so they start well? How can you be more grounded in your personal ethics? 3. FOCUS ON THE BEST USE OF YOUR TIME

“Sometimes you have to let go to the small things so your hand will have room to grasp the bigger things,”

Said my pastor, Michael Catt as part of his sermon on leadership. He should know. He’s the man who said yes to two of his pastors who wanted to make movies and not only changed our church but made an impact on the world of entertainment (and many lives.) Here’s how he told the story to our church a few weeks ago.

The staff of the church had been at Disney studying excellence. They had just finished a backstage tour. Each minister was spending time with Michael to share their vision for the next five years.  It was Alex’s turn. He said Alex looked at him and said,

“No church would let a minister be on staff and make movies would they? I really want to make movies.”

Pastor Catt said he thought a moment and then said,

“I don’t see why not.”

Alex and his brother Stephen Kendrick have now gone on to make Flywheel (2003), Facing the Giants (2006), Fireproof (2008), Courageous (2011), and are finishing up post production Movie Five. (See all their projects.) On the Christian film database website review of Movie Five (to be released in 2015) and their first film independent of Sherwood pictures, you can see the continuing story unfold:

“Sherwood is still our church home, and we’re here talking to you now only because Michael Catt, our pastor, took a risk, supported us and let us make a movie,” Alex Kendrick said.

So, in order to grasp something bigger, the Kendrick brothers had to let go of smaller things. Notice, I didn’t say unimportant things. There are lots of important things to do in their church ministry. But to grasp at a big huge vision, they had to let go of smaller things. Our small hands can’t hold everything. We choose what we hold onto.

Thomas Fuller, chaplain to Charles the Second of England says,

“He that is everywhere is nowhere.”

I can think of two big examples in my own life. I had to let go of my 250 question exam to create the Flat Classroom Project, often claimed as one of the first projects that showed the true potential of global collaboration. Then, just a year and a half a go, I had to let go of the Flat Classroom Project and the 7 projects that went along with it so I could focus on the purpose for my life. My work on Every Classroom Matters and increase in writing on sites like Edutopia and work on my third book are part of those bigger things. Not to mention, living life with no regrets as I enjoyed and savored my oldest son and middle daughter’s senior year of high school.

You can’t do it all. You have to often make choices between good, better, and BEST. Bad is not the enemy of best. Good is. We have all these little tiny good things that we won’t let go of to grab at the best, epic things.

And when you finally grab that epic thing, magic awaits! Sir Winston Churchill, the doggedly determined Prime Minister who led Great Britain through World War 2 said,

“To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour.”

If you’re a successful person — that tap on the shoulder usually happens WHILE YOU’RE DOING SOMETHING ELSE. When I’ve had great opportunities happen, the greatest of them happened when I was very very busy and I had to choose to let go of something good to grasp at great.

Jason Cohen @asmartbear says

“Only ever work on the thing that will have the biggest impact.”

Warren Buffet says

“The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.”

To be a better person, you must make choices. Sometimes you must let go of a lesser thing to move onto greater things. Sometimes you must say “I don’t see why not?”

Consider the things you have to do. Take an inventory of how you’re spending your time. Is there something great you feel called to pursue? What are things that might be good but are holding you back from pursing your purpose? Seek wise advice and visionary leaders to advise you. (These decisions shouldn’t be made rashly.) Seize your purpose and let that be your finest hour. Live a Better Life – Live an Epic Life

Live an epic year this year.  I do not share as one who has arrived but as a fellow journeyman on the highway of life. I want to live an epic life. How about you?

The post 3 Ways to Be a Better You appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog.

Categories: Planet

Sign up for March #28daysofwriting

Edte.ch Tom Barrett - 19 February, 2015 - 21:26

Blogging and commenting are like Luke and Leia Skywalker. Blogging comes first (like Luke did – they are twins y’know) but commenting and discussion makes everything better (much like Leia’s influence) – they are lonely when they are apart. If you are keen to get into a writing habit during March sign up for #28daysofwriting.

#28daysofwriting continues in MARCH

I am delighted to keep this momentum rolling with a new round of March sign ups for#28daysofwriting. It is open for those of you keen to get into a writing habit and itching to join the 115 or so writers and educators who are taking part in #28daysofwriting. Add your details below to the signup form for MARCH, we’ll kick things off on 1st of March.


Remember the rules are simple – write about whatever you like, as much as you like, but you have to stop after 28 minutes and you have to stick at it every day for 28 days. #28daysofwriting.

Signup for #28daysofcommenting

We have over a week to go for the first cohort to get through February and this inaugural round of writing. But the more I have been thinking about blogging this month the more I have been considering the Skywalker Effect (yes I am calling it that!) – the lack of commenting. So for those of you keen to stay in the blogging habit consider signing up and committing to #28daysofcommenting.

Same rules apply: every day for the first 28 days of March, read and leave comments on blog posts you come across. Do as much as you can in 28 minutes. No need to hit up new posts everyday you might continue a discussion taking place somewhere as well. One key thing would be to share to your networks, through Twitter and G+ etc, the comment you just left.

“I just commented on … for #28daysofcommenting” sort of thing, you get the idea.

Just a quick signup form to get a sense of numbers really nothing more for now – and we always feel more committed when we have filled out a form.


It works as a nice parallel to the writing challenge – we will have a crew writing everyday and we will have a bunch of supportive people chipping into the discussion too.

Discussion is such an important part of our edublogging community so I hope you will consider taking part and supporting the new bunch of people taking the writing challenge. Really l0oking forward to kicking on with this challenge for month – we have 10 days to get signed up using the forms above. Don’t forget to share this with those people who didn’t quite commit for February – it’s be great to continue to grow the community.

So the hashtag lives on and we now welcome the twin to the edublogging galaxy!



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Categories: Planet

Scientists discover nature's newest, strongest material, thanks to a snail

Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 19 February, 2015 - 11:33


  • "It's as strong as steel and tough as a bulletproof vest, capable of withstanding the same amount of pressure it takes to turn carbon into a diamond. Scientists have discovered nature's newest, strongest material, and it comes from . . . a sea snail." - Andrew Williamson

Tags: scientists, nature, material, science

by: Andrew Williamson

Categories: International News

Individualized and Personalized Learning

The Principal of Change George Couros - 19 February, 2015 - 05:12

Listening to Dr. Yong Zhao recently at a conference, he talked about the idea of “”individualized” and “personalized” learning. This is how I understood the differences between the two:

“individualized” learning is having students go through different paths to get to the same end point.  How you get there is different, but the destination is the same.

“Personalized” learning is having students go through their own paths to whatever endpoint they desire.  How you take the path and where you end up is totally dependent upon the strengths and interests of the learner.

So which path should schools focus on?  Honestly, there should be both elements in the process of school as we know it.

Individualized learning only works if the learner has ownership on the way they get to a certain point.  Currently, we are tied to a curriculum, but the way we achieve objectives is open-ended.  For example, if a student needs to show their understanding of a science objective, aren’t there several ways that this can happen?  Podcasts, videos, written assignments, whatever, can all be suggestions that are made to the student, but as a teacher, I would always leave the option of “other ways that you see suitable to share your learning on this objective”.  This allowed for students to go above and beyond what I could think of on my own, and gave them autonomy on the process.

Personalized learning really taps into the passions of students.  Initiatives like “Genius Hour“, “Edcamps for Students“, “Innovation Week”, or “Identity Day” provide opportunities for students to really shine and share what they are interested in.  Although these activities should not be simply an “event”, it is important that we do implement them at some level with our students as a starting point in schools to show how powerful these opportunities are in the first place.

Both of these elements of “individualized” and “personalized” learning should be evident in the environments in our school, and our crucial to student success both during and after their time in school.

When a student leaves school, they should not only have a comprehension of what they have learned, but more importantly, how they learn.  Isn’t that what we are striving for?


Categories: Planet

Serious Games: Rethinking Gamification in Education with Cat Flippen

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 18 February, 2015 - 22:45

Cat Flippen talks with Vicki Davis about her dissertation on gamification creating community. She is an ISTE Emerging Leader 2014. Cat argues that game like environments can occur anywhere, not just face- to face, or online, or virtual. Listen now to find out how Cat believes games are a great addition to education.

“A lecture online is no different than a lecture in person… you need to enrich the video, and you need to make it shorter.”Powered By the Tweet This PluginTweet This

Cat believes that gamification, when applied correctly, can create community, specifically in high-risk high-needs situations. She talks about the difference between using game elements and  gamification. She also talks about current thought on brain research and flipped classroom techniques

Listen to Cat Flippen

Add @CatFlippen to your PLN Cat Flippen – Show #86 – Serious Games: Rethinking Gamification in Education

Cat Flippen is currently working on her dissertation on gamification. She also is interested in using videos to engage students. She believes smaller content and assessments using video. She advises teachers to front load video content – plan the video and time the video. Listen now to find out her views on videos and wearable technology.

Listen to Cat Flippen share gamification, flipped classroom and mobiles

Flipped Classroom Strategies

Cat also has well-informed opinions on using videos in education. She shares about how you should stop and summarize at age plus 1. Break it and then have them summarize.

Mobile and Wearable Technologies We’re no longer a 1 to 1 society, we are frequently a 4 to 1-we should leverage that.Powered By the Tweet This PluginTweet This

Cat shares her thoughts about 24/7 learning. She also talks about the very cool TechSmith Fuze app! (Tip: If you’re using Chromebooks, you should be using Snagit!)

Listen to Cat Flippen

Every Classroom Matters is a bi-weekly Radio Show by Vicki Davis on BAM Radio network with best practices for busy teachers. Subscribe. Show notes prepared by Lisa Durff (and tweaked by Vicki Davis), Production Coordinator for Every Classroom Matters.

Need help listening to the show?

The BAM Site is new and awesome, and the #ecmatters episodes play on all platforms! Or subscribe in a podcatcher. If you need help, use this tutorial. If you have questions about the show, use the hashtag #ecmatters on Twitter!

The post Serious Games: Rethinking Gamification in Education with Cat Flippen appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog.

Categories: Planet

Purposeful Napping – how sleep can make you more creative

Edte.ch Tom Barrett - 18 February, 2015 - 21:15

Zzzz Zzzz Zzzz … Zzzz Zzzz … Zzzz … mmm wah, mmm – aha! {Scribble}

In the last few days I have read a few blog posts from educators taking part in the #28daysfowriting challenge this month, referring to having an idea for a blog post during the night and then waking up to discover the thought had slipped away. The role of sleep in the creative process has been something I have always been fascinated about.

It was the story of Thomas Edison that first piqued my interest in the role of napping and it’s effect on creativity. Even though he did once say that sleep was a “heritage from our cave man days” apparently he could sleep anywhere and was once discovered taking a nap inside a cupboard.

This great series of posts about Thomas Edison outlined how he was not just sleeping to catch up on rest, but as part of his creative process, purposefully napping as he cogitated a thorny challenge:

During his day, Edison would take time out by himself and relax in a chair or on a sofa. Invariably he would be working on a new invention and seeking creative solutions to the problem he was dealing with. He knew that if her could get into that “twilight state” between being awake and being asleep, he could access the pure creative genius of his subconscious mind.

To prevent himself from crossing all the way over the “genius gap” into deep sleep, he would nap with his hand propped up on his elbow while he clutched a handful of ball-bearings. Then he would just drift off to sleep, knowing that his subconscious mind would take up the challenge of his problem and provide a solution. As soon as he went into too deep a sleep, his hand would drop and the ball-bearings would spill noisily on the floor, waking him up again. He’d then write down whatever was in his mind.

What was Edison looking for and why was he putting his brain into that state?

As I have outlined previously creative learning is a relational process, creativity is no different as Bruce Nussbaum states:

Creativity is relational. Its practice is mostly about casting widely and connecting disparate dots of existing knowledge in new, meaningful ways. To be creative, you’ve got to mine your knowledge. You have to know your dots. – Bruce Nussbaum

When we sleep and nap our dream state consumes us with a strange amalgam of all that we have been processing or thinking about.

Yet these bizarre monologues do highlight an interesting aspect of the dream world: the creation of connections between things that didn’t seem connected before. When you think about it, this isn’t too unlike a description of what creative people do in their work – connecting ideas and concepts that nobody thought to connect before in a way that appears to make sense.

This last paragraph is taken from this article from BBC Future. It refers to that moment when we have just woken up as sleep inertia or a hypnopompic state. (Brilliant. I just love learning new words – I think hypnopompic has become an immediate favourite.) It is this state that Edison was deliberately putting himself into and the BBC article outlines that according to some research it helps with inferential thinking, and our ability for remote associations.

Making the links between pieces of information that our daytime rational minds see as separate seems to be easiest when we’re offline, drifting through the dreamworld.

So when you are next facing a tricky problem at school or a big challenge that just seems too much, or even hitting a blank for your next blog post, trust in the power of your subconscious brain to figure it out. Remember to keep something nearby, as Edison did, to jot down your ideas, but perhaps find somewhere better than a cupboard for your kip!


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