Monday, December 20, 2010

New Resolutions vs. Old Goals

10_0101 January Calendar, Joseph Readdy, uploaded December 31, 2009 via flickr, Creative Commons License

I regularly exercise at a health club near my house. The worst month to workout is January. The place is always packed that month. A lot of new people show up with great intentions of achieving their new resolutions for exercise or weight loss. We all do it. We all set new personal or professional goals in January. I will do it too, yet I am going to suggest another focus for my New Year’s resolutions.

I set professional goals for myself back in August. New beginnings, like the start of a school year or a start of a calendar year, are great times to set goals and resolutions. At this time however, I feel that the best thing for me is to review old goals before I make new resolutions. When January 1, 2011 rolls around, I will limit my new resolutions so that I can take time to revisit my old goals. The idea is I want to achieve as many goals as possible before I set new goals. It is easy to just set goals, and not as easy reach my goals. Don’t let your “goals to reach” list get too much longer than your “goals reached” list.

Which goals do you want to revisit in the new year?

Click HERE for a past blog post comparing twitter to my health club.

Click HERE to see my blog post listing some goals for this school year.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What Makes a Teacher Great?

Scott Maxwell, 3D Realty Handshake, December 25, 2007, Creative Commons License

Every great teacher that I know has had a special kind of energy. The special kind of energy that makes it very clear that they are excited about teaching. They are willing to go the extra mile inside and outside of the classroom. They are willing to take risks by trying new methods in the classroom. They smile, laugh, and talk about how much they love teaching and their students. However, the most important focus of their excitement and energy is directed at relationships. These teachers use their love for education to build relationships with students, parents, and colleagues. If you truly know your students, and if you truly know the parents, you can better serve their needs. If teachers work hard at developing a relationship with their students, and if the students know that they are loved, they too will have an excitement for learning just like their teacher. Relationships also extend outside the classroom. Encouragement and collaboration among colleagues will make a teacher great. This type of teachers is willing to share resources, methods, projects, and ideas with other teachers.

Great teachers love their students, respect the parents, and collaborate with colleagues. Building and maintaining these relationships will make you great.

This blog post was inspired by the Educational Leadership article What Makes a Teacher Great? from the Dec 2010/Jan 2011 issue.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Plant a Seed - Part 2

Hot Coffee on a rainy dayHow many of you need a cup of coffee to begin your day? I’d like to say that I am not addicted to my morning cup of coffee, but I am. My first cup comes at about 8:05 each morning without fail. Most days, I do something that does a better job of getting me going than a cup of coffee. I try to stand outside of our junior high building to welcome the 5th-8th graders who are arriving. I greet each student that comes in by name and with a handshake. It’s great to see student come out of the car with their hands full, and then shift all of their items (gym clothes, band instruments, art projects, or lunch bags) to their left hand because they know they have to shake my hand. “Good morning Mr. Creutz” is what they are all trained to say now as they shake my hand. As the weather has gotten cooler the past couple of weeks, I have begun to reply to them, “It’s a beautiful day… In Hawaii!” It brings a smile to their face, or a roll of the eyes, which begins my day better then the best coffee in the world can do.
Na Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii
The interesting thing about the “Hawaii” comment is that I use it because my principal in elementary school used the same phrase to welcome me. I rolled my eyes then, but it stuck with me. I didn’t realize it then, but he planted a seed that he never was able to see. His welcoming presence helped me to begin my day in a positive way. Never underestimate your influence on your students. Your words, your actions, and your concern are going to be remembered long after they leave your school

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Plant a Seed

Sunday Seed-scoveryWhat have I done today? It’s 3:00. It’s dismissal time, and what have I done today? I have read, wrote, and answered countless emails. I have taught students how to multiply rational expressions. I have helped put out a few small “fires” with teachers and their computers. The question, still comes up, what have I done today? I wished that second grader a happy birthday. I met with a parent in my office. I stopped into the preschool room just to say hello. I still wonder if I have done anything today?

This spring I will attempt to create another garden. I will plant a tomato seed, among others. That day will come and pass without much fanfare. I may even wonder what I have done today? I planted a seed! I accomplished a small task where the results of my efforts are not seen for months. Sometimes we will plant a seed and not see the results for years. Sometimes we will plant seeds and never see the results. We may never know the impact that seed has made.

What will I do today? I will plant a seed. So will you. Someday, maybe even today, it will make an impact.

Friday, November 19, 2010

My Reign is Over, Part 2

CANADIAN 1976 OLYMPICS 100 DOLLAR GOLD PIECE aAlmost one year ago, I wrote a blog post called “My Reign Is Over” in response to one of Shelly Terrell’s 30 Days, 30 Goals Challenge. That lesson in January was a spontaneous attempt at giving students control and ownership over an entire lesson. Last week, I tried again at giving students control. In recognition of metric day (yes, I know, we were four weeks late) we held the Metric Olympics for one class period. The students were in charge of planning and implementing the entire project. I did my best to stay in the background in order to give the students complete control and responsibility.

We started the project by allowing the class to be their own planning committee. The planning committee met for an entire class period and used Type With Me to communicate and plan. The Type With Me document was a great place to record the discussion and allow everyone to participate through the chat box. I had planned for that to be the only time of preparation, but we ended up needing about one more class period to have more discussion as a class. Although the Type With Me document is a good collaboration tool, the face-to-face conversations that we had in class were also very important.

Throughout the entire planning process, it was very difficult for me to take a step back and not control certain aspects of the project. I wanted to jump in to give help with the schedule, organizing supplies, and setting up the score board on excel. I had to intentionally tell myself to stay quiet and let the students figure out what to do. It was worth it. The students came through with detailed and effective plans. They organized themselves into groups. They set the schedule. They brought in all the materials. There was even one point where I was very close to caving in and asking the group a question about one of the supplies. I am glad I hesitated because the next question from a student was the exact same question I wanted to ask. The students were in control.

Although the Metric Olympics are designed to teach the students about estimating and measuring using the metric system, they learned so much more. Here are some of the comments students made in a post-project survey.

What did you like about today’s activity?

It allowed us to have independance and come up with our own ideas.

The students were the teachers and it felt like we were planning something big and we had the responsibility.

What did you learn today?

I learned that planning something might be hard so you have to plan ahead and prepare.

When you come together to form a decision, which is going to happen for the rest of anyone's life, be well-prepared and have a plan.

I learned that our class has many opinions, we all have different ideas. I think this showed a good look into the real world. I think ultimately it was good we had little problems along the way becuase it taught us to improvise, and to think ahead in the planning. I learned when you want/need to plan something, plan in time to plan it!!

I learned a lot that day. I was reminded that my job as a teacher is not just teaching. It is also my job to facilitate, collaborate, and to learn with the students.

How have you been able to "let go" in the classroom?
What activities have you done to give your students a sense of ownership?
How do you make your lessons authentic learning experiences for your students?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank You George

Lawn Mower MotionHere is a simple story, about a simple problem, with a simple solution.

This summer I was mowing my lawn, and the mower stopped working correctly. The engine was still running, but it was just puttering along. Fortunately, there is a man at my church who is retired from a job at a small engine shop. George has fixed my lawn mower before, so I gave him a call and set up a time to bring the lawn mower to him. I put the lawn mower in my car that afternoon and drove over to his house. First, he inspected the air filter. Nothing was wrong there. However, as he had the air filter out, he noticed a small spring that was no longer connected to a metal bracket. He reconnected the spring, started the engine, and that lawn mower purred like it did the day I bought it. He had literally diagnosed the problem and fixed the issue in less than one minute. I could have spent two hours trying to fix the lawn mower with hundreds of parts spread out over my garage, and I would have never been able to fix the problem.

I only had one problem. That problem was that my lawn mower was not running correctly. If I had tried to fix the problem by myself, I would have created a second problem. That second problem would have been lost time and energy due to not seeking help when I needed it. And in the end, I would have been left with two unsolved problems.

By seeking help, I limited myself to just one story, with one problem, that needed only one solution. Problems are going to arise in our classrooms and our schools. Sometimes these issues require immediate action and a quick decision on our own. When that urgency is not needed though, one of the first questions we should ask when attacking the issue is “Who can help me with this problem?” Do not create more problems for yourself by not seeking help when you need it.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Guest Post: Beyond the Walls of our Classroom

The following post is a guest post from Zion's fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Kara Cornejo. Her fifth grade class just completed an exciting Skype session with Fulbright Scholar, Dr. Les Hannah from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

My 5th grade class is studying Native Americans in Social Studies. I searched the internet for weeks looking for a Native American or Native American school/class that would be willing to skype with my class. After coming up empty handed I finally turned to Twitter and my PLN for some advice. Why I didn’t do this sooner I have no clue. After tweeting for help, @billgx, a fellow tweeter, passed on the email and skype name of someone who he thought might be able to help me.

I immediately sent out an email asking for some advice or help Dr. Hannah could offer me. After sending a couple emails back and forth and doing a little research myself I found out that Dr. Hannah is a professor and Fulbright Scholar of the Cherokee Language and Cherokee Studies Programs at NSU in Tahlequah, OK. Not only does he teach about the Cherokee heritage he is a Cherokee Indian. I knew I had hit the jackpot.

Dr. Hannah agreed to talk with my students over Skype about the Cherokee way of life, traditions, and their beliefs. We told him what we learned from our textbook and he would tell us if the Cherokee agree or disagree with it. We learned that most of what our textbook teaches us is not what Native Americans grow up believing about their heritage. He talked with us for about an hour and each one of my students had the opportunity to ask him a question. Not only did we get the privilege to meet Dr. Hannah, we also had the opportunity to meet two of his students who also talked with us, one of which who is a professional basket weaver in the Cherokee Nation. Dr. Hannah proceeded to tell us that she is very famous in the Cherokee Nation; it would be like meeting the president (but in the Cherokee Nation). We were amazed.

What a great opportunity my students had to not only learn about the Native American culture but to meet such amazing people and bring that culture into our classroom. Things we would have never had the opportunity to do if it wasn’t for Twitter and Skype.

Follow Kara on twitter

Friday, September 17, 2010

Enhance Student Learning

New Laptop

I wrote this for one of my masters classes on February 18, 2009. It was good to know that I felt then that technology should be used not just to use the tools but it to actually be used to enhance learning. (This was during my pre-twitter days too!)

The school that I am currently teaching at purchased 6 new SMART Boards last year. Every student in 3rd-8th grade has access to a SMART Board. This year's school auction will raise money to purchase even more SMART Boards to be installed at our school. I have had the opportunity to work with a SMART Board this year so I decided to research how technology is implemented into the classroom and some of the challenges facing teachers and administrators who are trying to include technology into lessons.

Is technology enhancing the learning of students? That was the biggest question that I found that needs to be answered regarding technology in the classroom. If the technology is being used to teach higher-ordered thinking and critical thinking skills, then it is more likely to enhance student learning. If it is being used more in completing routine tasks, then it will not be a benefit to students.

The supervisor as a technology instruction leader must value technology in the classroom, set the vision for technology in the classroom, and provide training opportunities as well as appropriate hardware, software, and materials. In addition to these things, the supervisor should model good use of technology and encourage constant evaluation of how student learning has been enhanced by technology.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Surround Yourself With The Best

It is imperative, that at the end of the day, the focus of the principal is on the success of each student. A typical day for a school principal is anything but routine. Schedule changes, surprises, an unforeseen crisis, unexpected discipline issues, and much more force an administrator to deal with many different situations each day. It is important, that in the end, the focus of the principal is on the success of each student. “Each day brings excitement, unplanned events, and meetings – opportunities to creatively make a difference in the lives of students and adults in the school house” (Robbins & Alvy, 2004, 151). However, ‘no man is an island’ and ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. In other words, the principal alone cannot ensure the success of all students. The principal needs an enthusiastic and qualified faculty and staff committed to the cause of success.

Frontier Classroom

I want students’ time at my school to be a time of growth so they are prepared for the next step in their life. A school needs to nurture a child in order that he or she may grow physically, emotionally, academically, and, socially. The teachers blaze the path to growth for students. The tools teachers need to foster maximum growth can be attained by attending conferences, conferring with co-workers, continuing education, and setting attainable goals.

A professional, proficient, and enthusiastic staff can make a difference in a school. “School principals can affect student success by helping teachers be the best they can be” (Robbins & Alvy, 2004, 89). A good teacher can be a very strong influence in a child’s life. A good teacher loves children, enjoys teaching, is enthusiastic, and is a good communicator with families. A good principal will encourage each teacher and will make every effort to provide all the opportunities necessary for a teacher to do a great job. A shared vision is also very important. The school climate will be very dynamic if the principal can model the vision, and the teachers can carry it out in their classrooms (Kouzes & Posner, 2006, 96).

A principal who strives to be an influential leader will also be a servant. A servant attitude will help to build strong and personal relationships with teachers, staff, students, and families. “When leaders accept that they are servants first, then they clearly know where they stand. And it’s not at the head of the line” (Kouzes & Posner, 2006, 16). It takes some humility to understand that the role of a leader also means that you will need to be a servant to other people. It allows you to stay on the same level as the people you work with and to see people eye to eye. “To be humble is to be down-to-earth, both feet planted firmly on the ground” (Kouzes & Posner, 2006, 156).

almost tall

A principal that can work toward constant growth, provide a proficient staff, and serve those around him will ensure the success of each student. All three of those areas, either directly or indirectly, have an effect on the students of the school. If the principal and the teachers grow, then the school grows. And if the school is growing then the students are growing. A proficient staff, who is enthusiastic and loves to teach, will have lasting effects on the students. The more a principal serves, the more he or she will understand how to better meet the needs of the students and all those involved with the school. If all this can be accomplished, students will be successful.

Kouzes, J. and Posner, B. (2006). A Leader’s Legacy. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Robbins, P. and Alvy, H. (2004). The New Principal’s Fieldbook: Strategies For Success. Alexandria: ASCD

Monday, September 13, 2010

Divided Time

Railroad watch

I am currently an assistant principal, athletic director, co-technology coordinator, coach, and I teach one class everyday. How I spend my time is a question and a struggle for me every week. Some of us may have different titles that describe what hat we wear. We also know that even if you have one title, such as principal, there are many hats that you must wear within that job. I think there are 3 things that a principal needs to focus on. First, walk around the school to observe what is going on. Second, talk to people. Talk to teachers, students, janitors, secretaries, parents, pastors, etc. Third, sit at your desk and get some work done. I think of "desk work" as answering email and phone messages, writing memos, setting agendas, planning schedules, developing curriculum, etc. It is important to note that most days you will not accomplish all three things. A day for a principal is going to be full of schedule changes, unexpected problems, and strange surprises that you had no idea would come up (Robbins & Alvy, 2004, 151). How you respond to those surprises often determines how well your day will go.

Robbins, P., Alvy, H. (2004). The New Principal’ Fieldbook: Strategies for Success. Alexandria: ASCD.

Make Your School a Better Place

Vision comes from inside the leader. Your vision should spring forth from the beliefs and values that you hold in your heart. "Clarity of personal values matters greatly to our feeling motivated, creative, and committed to our workplaces" (Kouzes & Posner, 2006, 96). A leader will be effective in a school if they have a solid understanding of what they believe in. The leader must use that understanding to confidently work in making their school a better place than it was yesterday, last week, or last year.


A vision is crucial to leadership because it can help others to lead. In a school, that means the leader should work side by side with teachers, students, and the community to reach the vision together. "We know that in high-performing teams no one needs to tell anyone else what to do... Everyone's encouraged to do whatever it takes to make things happen" (Kouzes & Posner, 2006, 124). The resources and insights that are available from those involved in a school are VERY valuable. I have often found that in many situations in my life, the best idea... is to not my idea. It is the idea of those I work with.

Kouzes, M., & Posner, B. (2006). A Leader's Legacy. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Launch Party



SMART Boards

SMART Notebook


Type to Learn








School Websites

Student Response Systems

Online Gradebooks

Online Student Collaboration



All of these technology tools and applications will be on display at the Zion Lutheran School Technology Launch Party on Friday, September 10, 2010. That evening, the teachers of Zion will host the parents of our students for a very special evening at the Stegton Banquet Hall. On display during this free event (yes, I said FREE) will be the technology that teachers are incorporating into their classrooms and instruction. For the past three years, we have been committed to increasing the use of technology in the classrooms by installing SMART Boards, creating a wireless network, and almost tripling the number of computers that we have available to our teachers and students. Throughout that process, our parents have been very supportive of increasing technology in the school. Their support can be seen as enrollment has grown and the number one reason for that increase is the positive things being said by parents to their friends, relatives, and neighbors. Their support can also be seen through countless hours of selfless volunteering dedicated toward fundraising efforts for our school.

Laptop Keyboard

The evening will begin with an open house format. Parents can browse the banquet hall, sipping on a beverage and enjoying an appetizer, while being greeted by teachers who are eager to share how they have used technology with their students. The main event of the evening will be a full group, main stage session where the new school website will be officially launched. The unveiling of the website will coincide with the launch of our new online gradebook. Following the website launch, parents will have the opportunity to attend a few breakout sessions that demonstrate the new online gradebook, a student response system, and online student collaboration. Multiple computers will also be available for parents to surf around the new school website.

The purpose of the evening is to connect families, showcase the technology used at Zion, and to unveil the new website. We are very excited to bring our families together to let them know about the benefits of technology in education. We hope the parents will leave with the same excitement toward technology and an understanding of how beneficial technology can be for their students.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Magic Words

My family recently visited The Magic House Children's Museum in St. Louis. One area in the museum is a pretend grocery store. While my daughter was “shopping”, I saw two young girls acting as a shopper and a checkout clerk. The shopper finished by saying; “Thank you for the excellent service. I am going to tell all my friends about this great store.”

We all know that word of mouth is very important for promoting our schools. However, do the families at your school know how powerful their words can be? You can do the best you can to make sure your students have a successful learning experience, but it is also our job to encourage families to spread the good word about our schools. Make it easy on them by starting a school Facebook or Twitter account. Social media is a great way to help parents spread the good word about your school. Write about the parents’ role in school promotion in your weekly newsletters. Tell them at the back to school open house that they can play a role in positive promotion. Make sure your families know how important they are in promoting your school.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Power of "We"

As you prepare for another school year, remember the power of “we”. Now is a good time to implement a new vision for your school, or to implement a change that can increase student learning. The buy-in and ownership of any new program in a school will be much higher if the word “we” is used instead of the word “I”. For example, this phrase:
“We will be the school of choice in our area by providing…”
would be much more effective in promoting a vision than this phrase:
“I want our school to be the school of choice in our area by providing…”
The word “we” is more likely to imply that we are a team trying to achieve a goal. Successful teams all share a common goal, and each member understands their role to help the team achieve the goal. Team members (teachers, students, staff, etc.) will be more likely to help your organization or school reach it’s goals when they feel that they are a part of the vision. Using the word “we” instead of the word “I” can help make your vision their vision also.

Stop Searching

When I think about what makes twitter so unique, I think about a quote in the video "Social Media Revolution 2." If you have not seen the video, you can watch it below.

Here is quote that I think explains one of the values of twitter:
"We no longer search for the news, the news finds us... We will no longer search for products and services, they will find us via social media"

Educators no longer have to search completely on their own for tools, resources, and information for their classroom. Twitter is a constant stream of valuable resources, links, tools, conversations, collaboration, and encouragement that find their way onto a teacher's desktop. It is amazing how great resources will "find you" through twitter. It has been just over a year since I joined twitter and I have learned so much about how technology can be used as a very effective tool of instruction. (If you do not know how twitter works, watch this VIDEO)

I have heard many teachers say they do not have time for Twitter, however, Twitter is completely user controlled. Sometimes I feel weighted down by my email. I have to check my email and reply when necessary. It's not that way with twitter. You can follow who you want, send out tweets when you want, and read tweets when you want. People on twitter will place links in their tweets in order to share great tools that can be used in the classroom. Some of the amazing tools that I have learned about strictly because of twitter include voicethread, prezi, backchanneling, wikis, mind mapping, flickr, Skype, and diigo.

Most importantly, I have made many great connections with other educators all over the world. It's really all about the people. My PLN, or Personal Learning Network, is a group of educators on twitter who motivate, collaborate, encourage, and share with one another. I have about 900 people following me on twitter and I follow over 500 people myself. Just about every person in my PLN I probably would have had zero contact with if it were not for twitter. It really is a way to surround yourself with more quality, dedicated, and passionate colleagues.

Resources for teachers who are new to twitter
28 educators that you must follow

Tom Whitby explains the power of the PLN

Eric Sheninger Discusses the Emergence of Twitter in Education

Steve Anderson (@web20classroom) on Twitter

This post was originally written for an assignment in my "Integrating Technology into the Curriculum" class at Concordia University, Nebraska.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Administrate Like It's 1989

I often wonder what it was like to be an educator over 20 years ago when you did not have email. Email is often a great way to communicate when you have a quick question or you have to communicate some quick information. However, how many times have you written back and forth with someone when a quick phone call or a walk down the hallway would have saved time? On the surface, it seems like email and other forms of digital communication save us time, but sometimes a quick phone call or a short walk is more efficient then multiple email replies. If you need to reply to an email or communicate with a colleague, a short conversation may be more effective than an email. Give it a try sometime. When you get an email that needs a response, and the sender is outside your building, pick up the phone and give them a call. If the sender is in your building, take a few steps outside your office and visit them in the classroom. It might end up saving you just a little bit of time.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Reform Symposium 2010 - Pre-conference thoughts

Reform Symposium

Saturday evening I will be presenting for just the second time ever. I was very honored to be asked to participate in the Reform Symposium and I have enjoyed the challenge of preparing the presentation. One of the exciting things for me about this weekend is the unknown. I have no idea what it will be like to present online. I have no idea how many participants will be in my session. I have absolutely no idea how my presentation will be received. I also have wondered from time to time if I will be providing the participants with any valuable information that they can take into their classrooms or into their school. Twitter and social networking have been great for my professional development over the last year. However, sometimes it seems as if we are all "preaching to the choir." Will my session be made up of a bunch of choir members? My goal the next few days is to finish preparing a presentation that will provide opportunities for all educators to take at least one idea or activity back to their classroom or school. Join me on Saturday night at 7:30 EDT for my presentation HOTTS (Higher Order Thinking/Technology Skills). This session will show teachers how technology can be used to help bring their students to the higher order thinking skills of Bloom's Digital Taxonomy. Each taxonomy level will be discussed and different ways that technology can be used to bring students to that specific level of thinking.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

An Administrator's Responsibility

I was asked today what I think an administrator's role is in 21st Century Learning. Here was my response.

The most important aspect of 21st century learning is getting our students to be lifelong learners. I want to try and encourage a joy and a desire in my students to constantly be learning. Even when they do not have that joy or desire, I still want them to be able to find ways to learn. They have to know how to use technology, collaborate, to read, to write, to solve problems, etc. Since education, technology, and the world is changing so quickly, our teachers also have to be committed to lifelong learning. In order to keep up, our teachers must be learning about new technology, new methods, and the needs of our students. When teachers are lifelong learners, they are a great example of 21st century learning for our students.

Where does the administrator fit in this picture? Administrators should also be lifelong learners, just as it is expected of the teachers. They must encourage professional development and collaboration among their staff. Although there are great professional development opportunities and great personal learning networks available through social media and professional organizations, don't forget about the potential collaboration opportunities in your own building. Use your faculty to collaborate, train, and teach each other.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Twitter: The Year in Review - Follow 'Em

Tuesday, June 29, 2010 marks the 1-year anniversary of when I signed up for twitter. In many ways, twitter has changed the way I think, prepare, and collaborate as an educator. The following post lists my suggestions for "must follows" for any educator. I want to thank all of my "tweeps" for listening to my 140 character rambles, sharing great resources, and encouraging me to becoming a better educator.

@cybraryman1 @web20classroom @NMHS_Principal @Larryferlazzo @dianadell @stevejmoore

@ShellTerrell @jasonschmidt123 @henrythiele @mkratzer @rjacklin @rliberni

@dawblack @dgrice @MrA47 @OCTechguy @coachburk @kathymaske @luthedguild @AFogelman

@MDebrick @alhelmy @rlimback @marthaglover @karacornejo @gilmorekendra @pstewart @Kpoppitz

Click the link below to follow everyone from this post.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Twitter: The Year in Review - Top 10 Links

Tuesday, June 29, 2010 marks the 1-year anniversary of signing up for twitter. In many ways, twitter has changed the way I think, prepare, and collaborate as an educator. The amount of great resources, links, ideas, and discussion that come across my desktop are too numerous to count. It seems that every day I read about something new and innovative that can be used in the classroom. The following post lists 10 of my favorite links that I was directed to mainly because of my experience on twitter.

Diigo - "Research, Share, and Collaborate. Diigo is a powerful research tool and a knowledge sharing community." Diigo has been a great place to store and bookmark all the great links that are shared over twitter.

Reindeer Chorus - A fun Christmas website to use on your IWB, The Reindeer Orchestra. "Squash their noses or let the computer guide you through clicking the song you want to play." - A collaborative text editing site. A good collaborative website to assist students with research, communication, and group projects.

SMART Notebook Games - Multiple templates for creating games on the SMART Board (Memory, Wheel of Fortune, Deal or No Deal, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, etc.)

Prezi - A presentation tool that is a unique alternative to PowerPoint. I feel that PowerPoint can still serve a purpose for presentations, but Prezi provides another option for presenters to use.

30 Goals Challenge - Shelly Terrell's "30 Goals" series challenged educators to accomplish a series of short term goals at the beginning of 2010. Currently this summer, continue reading the "30 Goals Challenge" as guest bloggers share how they accomplished each of the goals.

Voicethread - Voicethread is a collaborative website that allows you to "talk about and share images, documents, and videos."

Free Technology for Teachers - Free Technology for Teachers is a blog with "free resources, ideas, and lesson plans for teaching with technology." Many posts come with "Applications for Education" to help integrate the featured technology into your classroom.

Today's Meet - "TodaysMeet helps you embrace the backchannel and connect with your audience in realtime." Create your own backchannel to use with students without having to sign up for individual twitter accounts.

Glogster - "Simply put, Glog is a kind of poster - fully designed by yourself! Glog is a fancy creation from text, images, music and video."

What has been your favorite resource that has been shared with you on twitter?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Google Resources

Resources for using Google in the classroom.

10 Google Forms for the Classroom

Sharing and Editing Options in Google Docs
From the Free Technology for Teachers website (posted June 18, 2010):
Google announced that they would be rolling-out the new version of the document editor to all users over the next couple of weeks. The new version includes real-time updates (no more refreshing to see what your collaborators have written), chatting with collaborators within your documents, margin settings, and floating images.

11 Helpful Cheat Sheets for Popular Google Products
From the Web Design Ledger website:
Think about all the tools you use each day to do your job. Chances are, more than one of them are made by Google. Google puts out great products that help us perform our daily tasks. Whether it be email, creating docs, or communicating with clients and colleagues, there seems to be a Google service for just about everything. But just like other tools and applications there are lots of features, which means more stuff to remember. So if you’re like me and have trouble memorizing things like keyboard shortcuts, we’re here to help. Here are 11 Helpful Cheat Sheets for Popular Google Products.

The Google Classroom
From The Google Classroom website:
There are many Google resources and applications that can be utilized in the classroom. (Here) you will find them organized into the following categories: Applications (downloads); Collaboration; Research Resources and Other Resources.

Google Apps in the Classroom [slideshow]
Slideshow and multiple resources/links for using Google in the classroom from Chad Kafka.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Digital Resources for Bloom's Taxonomy

The following resources will assist educators with using Bloom's Taxonomy while integrating technology into the classroom.

Bloom's Digital Taxonomy - Educational Origami
From the Educational Origami website:
This is an update to Bloom's Revised Taxonomy which attempts to account for the new behaviours and actions emerging as technology advances and becomes more ubiquitous. Bloom's Revised Taxonomy accounts for many of the traditional classroom practices, behaviours and actions but does not account for the new processes and actions associated with Web 2.0 technologies and increasing ubiquitous personal and cloud computing.
Bloom's Digital Taxonomy isn't about the tools or technologies rather it is about using these to facilitate learning. Outcomes on rubrics are measured by competence of use and most importantly the quality of the process or product. For example. Bookmarking a resource is of no value if the resource is inappropriate or worthless.

Bloom's Taxonomy Blooms Digital - Tech & Learning
From the Tech & Learning website:
In the 1990's, a former student of Bloom, Lorin Anderson, revised Bloom's Taxonomy and published this- Bloom's Revised Taxonomy in 2001. Key to this is the use of verbs rather than nouns for each of the categories and a rearrangement of the sequence within the taxonomy. They are arranged below in increasing order, from low to high.

Bloom’s Taxonomy and the Digital World - Open Education
From the Open Education website:
(Andrew) Churches work gives educators an excellent framework from which to begin to assess their digital practices. We recognize that many teachers tend to push the “search” concept, especially search refinements, further up the taxonomy levels. But at the same time Churches digital examples at the evaluation level provide strong reinforcement for the use of blogs and Wikis to greatly enhance learning

Investigation of Bloom's Digital Taxonomy [Prezi]

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Championship Moments

One week ago today, the Chicago Blackhawks won their first Stanley Cup in 49 years. Many avid hockey fans and knowledgeable analysts will argue that the Stanley Cup is the most difficult trophy to win in all of sports. The organization would probably agree as they went almost a half century without holding up the Cup. I have been a Chicago sports fan my entire life and have been fortunate enough to see seven other championships. I remember the Chicago Bears rallying the entire city together by winning their first and only Super Bowl when I was just seven years old. The lasting image in my memory from that Super Bowl win was when head coach Mike Ditka was carried triumphantly across the field on his players shoulders. Then, as a teenager, I witnessed one of the greatest dynasties in sports history when Michael Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to an impressive six championships in eight years. I have vivid memories of seeing Jordan clutching the champagne drenched trophy close to his body while crying in front of all the cameras, reporters, and teammates. Any celebration of a championship is a memorable moment. However, the Stanley Cup celebration might be the most impressive celebration moment. The exact moment that I continue recalling in my mind from the Blackhawks championship are the seconds that took place immediately before Jonathan Toews raised the Cup above his head. Toews, the Blackhawks team captain, was invited up to the Stanley Cup by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. The two stood on each side of the most coveted trophy in sports for the obligatory photographs. As the cameras flashed, Toews was very obviously twitching his legs and hands. He was extremely anxious to grab the trophy, lift it above his head, and skate around the ice with his teammates as NHL champions.

I sat in on my living room floor directly in front of the TV anxiously awaiting Toews to lift that trophy. When he grabbed the Stanley Cup and lifted it above his head, that was the moment all Blackhawks fans had been waiting for. That moment was the memory that will live on. Did you have a moment like that during the past school year? As a teacher, what did one of your students do that stands out as the moment, the lasting memory of this school year? As an administrator, what did one of your teachers do that stands out as a defining moment, a lasting memory for the school year? What was your championship moment?

UPDATED JULY 5, 2010 - Great read... "Reflections from 2009-2010" Mr. Gonzalez goes gradeless this year in his science class. Read about the experiment in his reflective blog post.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Take Risks to Increase Learning

In just 7 years of teaching, I have seen a big shift in how technology can be used in the classroom. When I first began, my classroom had 1 computer for me to enter grades and email parents. The most technology I ever used in my instruction was an overhead projector and calculators. Now we are teaching in classrooms with SMART Boards, iPads, iPods, laptops, wireless Internet, smart phones, student response systems, and numerous Web 2.0 tools. The amount of technology available and the quality of technology available must change the way we teach. Ferriter, 2010 explains that in recent years, schools have changed the way they spend money by investing billions of dollars in technology. Yet the way we teach has not changed enough to keep up with the increase of technology. What must we do in our instruction to effectively integrate this technology?

Ferriter, 2010 continues by offering solutions for implementing significant changes to help our schools implement more effective digital instruction. His solutions include offering online and independent studies, delivering academic help to struggling students digitally, redesigning teacher preparation programs, making standards more flexible, and redesigning teacher evaluation programs. He also provides Web 2.0 tools that can be beneficial in the classroom. Tools to help teachers become active digital learners include the Classroom 2.0 online network and the Educator's Personal Learning Network. More options like Screencasts, Voicethread, and Skype are tools that teachers and students can use directly in instruction and learning.

I have one solution to help teachers implement technology which I think encompasses all of Ferriter's suggestions. Take risks. All of the new technology tools and digital methods are new to education. They offer new ways to engage students and provide differentiation to a variety of learners. Since it seems that there are new tools each week that are available to teachers, we may be expected to try methods that we were never trained to use. Taking risks in the classroom will be beneficial for the students. Stepping outside of your comfort zone will provide an example to students about what it takes to learn new ideas and concepts. In addition, taking chances will not always result in effective instruction or learning for the students. There will be mistakes made. There will be ineffective lessons. These situations will provide the teacher with an opportunity to be a problem solver, perhaps even solving the problem with the students.

Technology though, by itself, will not determine how effective or successful a teacher is in the classroom. The technology that is being used today is different than what was used 10 years ago, 20 years ago, or 100 years ago. There have been very successful teachers before SMART Boards, computers, and the Internet were ever used. The success of teachers in the past should be remembered because their methods are still applicable, regardless of technology they used. I asked Jerry Blumengarten (@cybraryman1), a retired teacher who began his career in 1969, what successful methods or techniques he thinks teachers use no matter what era they taught in and no matter what technology they used. Mr. Blumengarten is a former teacher who began teaching with film strips, 16 mm films and overhead projectors. By the time he finished his career he had seen quite a few changes in how technology is used in the classroom. He explained that successful education begins with teachers and schools remembering that it is not about the technology, it is about the learning. We must put our focus on the learning of students. If technology is a tool that helps increase student learning, then we must embrace the opportunities it provides. Yet we cannot forget about the relationships that we build with our students, the positive role models we can be, and the learning that we can foster among our students. Take risks with the technology. Do not be afraid to try something new in your classroom. However, don't forget that your most important job is to help students learn.

Blumengarten, J. (2010, June 5). Email interview.

Ferriter, W.M. (2010). Preparing to teach digitally.Educational Leadership, 67(8), 88-89.

IWB Resources

Resources to help teachers with interactive whiteboards in their classrooms.

SMART Board Revolution Ning

SMART Exchange - Find Lesson Plans for Your SMART Board and Connect with Teachers

Interactive Whiteboard Insights [Blog] - Put more interactivity in your interactive whiteboard!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

8 Goals for my 8th Year

Professional growth can be achieved in different ways. I am a big proponent of setting goals and making lists in order to stay organized, achieve growth, and challenge myself. This August, I will enter my 8th year in the teaching profession. The following list contains 8 simple goals for me to work on in my 8th school year. These goals are not things that you will necessarily learn in your masters classes or read in an educational journal, but I do think they can help build relationships and promote a positive atmosphere in your school.

8 GOALS FOR 2010-2011
1. Acknowledge all staff members birthdays.
2. When a substitute teacher is in for a teacher, visit that classroom at least once during the day to check on the sub and the class.
3. Write thank you notes. The key word here is write. Hand-written thank you notes show genuine sincerity to teachers, parents, volunteers, etc.
4. Know the names of all your staff members' spouse and children. (If you can remember names of grandchildren and pets, that will make an extra good impression)
5. No coasting at the end - Give the same energy to the last month of school that you do to the first month of school. Along the same lines, treat each everyone like it is last day of school. I noticed how kind everyone was to each other on the last day of school this year. Treat students, parents, and colleagues every day as if it is the last time you will see them for about 2 1/2 months.
6. Keep a list of great things teachers do during the year. Share the list with the teacher at the year-end meeting
7. Plan well ahead of time for events that require invitations to be sent out. The only thing more insulting than not inviting someone, is inviting them at the last minute.
8. Pick 1 thing to finish per week - We all have those items on our to-do list that dont NEED to be done and therefore sit on the list for months, sometimes years. Pick one of those items each week and make it a high priority. If you are consistent, you could get up to 40 or 50 of those types of tasks done each year.

What goals do you have as you enter the 2010-2011 school year?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

What I learned about Skype today

The 6th grade class from Zion participated in a Skype session with 6th graders from Immanuel Lutheran School in Giddings, TX. For the past couple of months, the classes have been exchanging letters as pen pals. We are talking about hand-written, place in the envelope, and slap a stamp on pen pals. Today, they met face to face through Skype. This was a chance to see each other, talk with each other, and ask each other questions. This is the first time that I have observed a Skype session between two groups of students. There were a few things that I noticed. A Skype session appears to be a great way to improve communication skills, make connections, and improve presentation skills.

A Skype session for students will help improve speaking and listening skills. The entire conversation, both speaking and listening, requires a more intentional effort by the participant than a face-to-face conversation. There are some slight nuances to a Skype session that take some time to get used to. First, there is a slightly longer pause during transitions between speakers, a small difference from a normal conversation. Second, speaking at the same time can be a little more awkward than a normal conversation. Overall, the longer pause and avoiding simultaneous speaking, cause the pace of a conversation to be slightly slower.

One of the things I noticed was the similarities between the two classes and the students. As the students asked each other questions, I think they found out that they have a lot in common with the class in Texas. Even thought they live a few states apart from each other, these students are their peers in many ways. Their interests and attitudes were very similar. At the same time, there were some differences. Between the size of the towns, schools, climate, and industries, the students learned about how what parts of their lives are different. There was a connection that took place today between Missouri and Texas. Our students heard about some different aspects of these students' lives, yet at the same time learned that 6th graders in a different part of the country have similar interests. Deep down, they are not that different.

Finally, both classes learned how to work together to give an effective presentation. Each class took a different approach during the Skype session. The 6th graders from Texas had the entire class in front of the camera for Zion to see. The 6th graders from Zion brought one student to the camera at a time for the the students from Texas to see. As a group of students in front of the camera, it takes great discipline to give a clear and unified presentation. It seems like one of three things can happen. The entire group can all begin talking at once, which can be a confusing and jumbled message. Second, the entire group can sit there silently waiting and not speaking because everyone thinks someone else is going to talk. Finally, one person can speak up and answer questions or talk, which most often is the preferable method. Overall, the class from Texas did a great job communicating with the Zion students, taking turns and making sure that the student who was speaking was in front of the camera. On the other hand, when the students from Zion came up to the camera one by one, they had their own set of pressures. When you are the only person on camera, there is pressure for you to speak clearly, loudly, and slowly enough for them to understand you. I think the 6th graders from Zion felt this pressure, and it took some practice for them to speak loud enough to be heard. Again, overall they did a great job speaking in front of the camera and communicating their questions and thoughts.

I think this Skype session was a great learning experience for the students, teachers, and myself. The main thing that happened today is a connection took place between students from different states. I like that it started months ago with pencil and paper, and culminated today with technology.

In what ways have your students benefitted from using Skype in the classroom?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Instant Events - Day 4 of Tweet Week

The fourth post of Tweet Week highlights a tweet from @mashable for the second day in a row.

@mashable: Times Square Evacuation As Seen by Twitter Users [PICS] -

Clicking on the link will take you to the Mashable website where you will see 6 pictures from the evacuation of New York City's Times Square on Friday, May 7. This was the second evacuation of Times Square in one week. From the Mashable website:

Much like the car bomb scare that took place last Saturday night, Twitter users in the area are quick to the scene, snapping some surreal photos of one of America’s most trafficked landmarks completely empty.

Since it’s in the middle of the work day, many of the photos come from high up offices, painting an even clearer picture of what an abandoned Times Square looks like.

If you want instant updates for just about anything going on in the world, Twitter is the place to go. These 6 images give you an immediate visual about the massive undertaking and the eery sight of an evacuated Times Square. 16 months ago, one of the most popular tweets of all time was an immediate image of passengers being rescued on January 15, 2009 from US Airways flight 1549 that crashed into the Hudson River in New York City. This is another example of how Twitter can be used to provide immediate news and information updates. Finally, just this week, Twitter provided me with access to immediate information about why my Google Calendar crashed and about my beloved Chicago Cubs recalling their number 1 prospect Starlin Castro.

Is it any wonder that newspapers all over the world are stopping publication and advertising sales on TV and printed media are plummeting. The 10:00 news and the morning newspaper are what we used to consider current events. Today, it is Twitter and the real-time web that gives us instant events.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Tweetshrink The World - Day 3 of Tweet Week

Wednesday was day 3 of Tweet Week and the theme for today is how Twitter can make the world smaller. The focus for today was a fascinating tweet by @mashable

@mashable: 10 Awesome Webcam Feeds From Around the World -

If you click on the link you will see 10 very interesting webcams from all over the world. This single link allows us to take a live glimpse into different areas all over the Earth. This made me begin to think about how a Tweet like this can shrink the world. There are so many opportunities on Twitter to connect, share, discuss, and learn from educators around the globe. There are many examples of how we have used Twitter in my classes in order give the students and myself learning opportunities that extend beyond our classroom walls.

  • There are great opportunities for polling a variety of people. Twtpoll is my favorite polling website. We have used this polling tool to learn about probability, percents, ratios, and fractions.
  • Twitter and geography can be integrated very easily. I enjoy replying to people's request on twitter such as, "I am giving a presentation on twitter. Please say hi to the staff and let us know where you are from." We have sent out tweets similar to this in our classes and have received so many replies that we can not keep up on reading them as they come in. It is fun, and interesting, to see where all of the people are replying from.
  • Sharing resources is a great benefit of Twitter. We have benefitted from great resources that people have sent out and we also try to share great ideas or lessons that we have to offer.
  • Probably my favorite way that Twitter makes the world a smaller place is the connections I have made with other educators. More specifically, as an educator at a Lutheran school, I have been thankful for the connections that I have made with educators from other Lutheran schools who are currently on Twitter. It is truly amazing the conversations that can take place in less than 140 characters.
In what other ways has Twitter brought the world into your classroom?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

#edchat Tuesdays - Day 2 of Tweet Week

Each day this week I am choosing one tweet that has an effect on my work as an educator. The choice for the focus today was an easy decision. The following tweet is from @ShellTerrel:

RT @jswiatek: The archive is available for today's (5/4 1800CET, 12 PM EDT) at #teachertuesday

The archive being referred to is the weekly #edchat discussion that takes place on Twitter every Tuesday at 12 PM EDT. The #edchat discussion is a great way for educators to gather together and hold a conversation about a current issue in education. Here are some of the reasons that I have found #edchat to be beneficial to me.
  1. #edchat is a good professional development opportunity. Twitter in general is great for professional development. However, the weekly #edchat discussions have given me an opportunity to set aside a specific time each week to learn from fellow educators on Twitter. I am thankful that I have most of the #edchat hour free to participate.
  2. #edchat is going to stretch your mind. I appreciate the opportunity that I have to think, consider, question, and form opinions regarding current issues in education.
  3. #edchat will help you to become a quicker thinker. I am impressed with the number of people who participate in #edchat, which in turn keeps the conversation moving very quickly. You are going to have to read, and think, very quickly to keep up with the conversation.
  4. Although the main #edchat discussion occurs on Tuesday, the conversation continues throughout the week. It is common to see tweets with the #edchat hashtag for hours and days after the scheduled #edchat times, which is an indication of the power of the #edchat conversations.
I recommend #edchat for all educators on Twitter. I have found it to be a great way to connect, interact, and learn from educators around the world.

In what ways has #edchat been beneficial to you? What was your favorite #edchat discussion?

#edchat links

Monday, May 3, 2010

School Promotion - Day 1 of Tweet Week

The first post this week about how Twitter has enhanced my professional life began yesterday with the following tweet:
RT @ozge: Is the iPad Fit for School? - #ipad /via @ianw91

This tweet led me to an website, which contained a link to an additional article about how the 140 Character Conference last month explored how Twitter can be used in the classroom. (Click HERE for the article). The following paragraph in the article struck me as one way that I can use Twitter to help promote my school:
In another session, New Jersey principal Eric Sheninger (@NMHS_Principal) explained how he uses Twitter to get the word out about the great activities taking place at New Milford High School. Since he started tweeting in February, 2009, some 14 news stories have been written about his school use of the Twitter as an educational tool by both students and teachers.

In addition to following Eric Sheninger (@NMHS_Principal), I have also been following Shelly Terrell (@ShellTerrell). Both Eric and Shelly have recently passed the 1 year anniversary of their start on Twitter. I am amazed at the amount of followers and the influence that both Eric and Shelly have accumulated through Twitter. Eric's success with Twitter is something I respect, and so I looked for ways today to "get the word out" about my school just like he has done. Throughout the day I paid close attention to classroom newsletters, the school newsletter, my email, and conversations with teachers and parents. I was searching for ways to promote my school in the same way that Eric describes in the previous paragraph. The tweets that I sent out today about Zion are below. They can also be found at Zion's Twitter page and my personal Twitter page.

zionbobcats Teacher Appreciation Day is tomorrow! How can you show appreciation for your teacher?

zionbobcats Nickels for Nails: Zion students will be collecting nickels, dimes, and quarters for Habitat for Humanity on Thu-Fri

zionbobcats Zion second graders to take a field trip to The Butterfly House on Wednesday.

Although these tweets will not result in 14 news stories like New Milford High School, I think continuing like this will help to promote some of the success stories at Zion. Have you ever Twitter to promote your school? If not, maybe now is the time.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Tweet Week

I am preparing to give a presentation next year about teachers using twitter. As I prepare that presentation, I have been reflecting on my current use of twitter. This led me to a decision to focus during the upcoming week on how twitter has helped me to improve as an educator. Each day this week, I will write about how I use a single tweet to help improve my students, my colleagues, my school, or myself. Check back each day to see how my PLN and twitter can "tweek my week."

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Benefits of a SMART Board

This article was written for Zion Lutheran Church's quarterly newsletter "The Visitor"

Within a classroom a variety of learners sit in their desks. The class is split between visual, auditory, and tactile learners. In addition to the different learning styles, the students have different abilities. And finally, the students have different interests. With all of these students, one teacher must mesh all of the diversity together into one effective learning environment. A SMART Board is a tool that can help a teacher to do this successfully.

Over the past two years, Zion Lutheran School has been blessed by being able to purchase 11 SMART Boards for our classrooms. A SMART Board is an interactive whiteboard that allows users to touch, write on, and view images that are being projected from a computer. This tool that can provide a teacher with many options for instruction and give great variety to lessons. Some of the benefits of SMART Boards in the classroom include:

  • Lessons can be created to easily include videos, music, graphics, games, and interactive activities.
  • Teachers can model a variety of effective note taking methods.
  • Teachers AND students can use technology to collaborate with others in the classroom or all over the world. The SMART Board can assist with many types of collaboration.
  • Teachers can print or email a lesson to a student who is absent and missed class.
  • Lessons can be created to provide an effective flow and sequence with prepared leading and discussion questions.
  • Many different graphic organizers (tables, charts, and Venn diagrams) can be used to categorize ideas, concepts, and data.

Technology integrated into instruction can take a classroom, bounded by four walls, and open it up to the world. SMART Boards are one example of how we can integrate technology into education and are one step toward technology having a positive impact in the classrooms of Zion Lutheran School.

Picciotto, Henri. (2010, March 27). Interactive white boards. Retrieved from

Using Technology with classroom instruction that works. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Saturday, April 3, 2010

How Twitter is Similar to my Health Club

My top 5 reasons that twitter is similar to my health club.

5. With twitter and at the health club, everyone is usually very nice. People are very encouraging and supportive of one another.

4. PLN/PLM. My Personal Learning Network helps me grow professionally through other teachers, administrators, and educators. My Personal Lifting Machines including the fly machine, curl machine, and the bench press machine help me grow physically.

3. With both twitter and exercising, the more you do it, the more you are hooked.

2. Many of the people you follow on twitter do not use their real names (cybraryman1, NMHS_Principal, web20classroom, tonnet, TheTechSpec). At the health club, you do not many people by name, instead they have nicknames (skeletor, harry larry, spandex man, goober, skin colored biker shorts lady, loud singing iPod guy, Dan the Man, and Lance Armstrong)

1. Your twitter updates can only be 140 characters. Health club members must weigh less than 140 pounds. Members must also only eat food less than 140 calories.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Take 2 (or more) Steps

It does not matter how much time I spend in my office trying to get caught up. No matter what I do, it seems like I am always behind. I can knock off 10 things from my to-do list, and the next day I will have 15 more items added to the list. It feels like I take 2 steps forward, then 3 steps backwards. I often feel like I am never making any progress.

A couple days ago, I took some steps (more than 2) outside of my office. I went through the hallways, popping in classrooms for quick visits. The time was very well spent for me. The best visit was in 3rd grade watching one of our great teachers using the Smart Board very effectively in her instruction. There were smiles on the students’ faces, hands raised, and eyes glued to the Smart Board. The time in the classroom was a great reminder about what is important. Take time to talk with your staff. Take time to talk with the students. Take time to talk with the parents. The ten minutes I spent in 3rd grade was more beneficial than replying to 10 emails in 10 minutes.

I appreciate you reading this blog post, but don’t spend too much time here. Go visit a classroom. Go talk to a kid. Make that phone call to a parent. It’s worth the time.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Social Media Math

Lesson Plan Title: Social Media Math

General Goal(s): Students will be able to understand the benefits of social media (twitter).

Specific Objectives:

  1. Students will be able to evaluate the benefits of using a social media tool.
  2. Students will be able to analyze data about social media usage, users, and growth.

Required Materials: Internet connection, projector or IWB, a computer for each student

Anticipatory Set (Lead-In): Obtain immediate feedback/greetings from twitter followers to show the instant collaboration opportunities of social media.

Step-By-Step Procedures:

  1. Show the “Did You Know 4.0” video -
  2. Create a backchannel for a post video discussion using
  3. Following the video, begin the backchannel and ask students about their initial reactions.
  4. Watch the video again, stopping at specific points to ask discussion questions
    1. 0:30 – Is there anything on this list that you do not use to access information? Is there something missing from this list that you use to access information?
    2. 0:37 – What is the ratio of TVs in the US to TVs in bathrooms in the US? Do any of you have a TV in your bathroom?
    3. 0:42 – When was the last time you read a newspaper? Do you think newspapers will be extinct someday?
    4. 0:59 – Why is some advertising going down and some advertising going up?
    5. 1:14 – How many hours of broadcasting is that for the 3 networks since 1948?
    6. 1:27 – How many unique visitors is that per day? Per hour?
    7. 2:07 – How fast do you think Mr. Creutz can type a 160-character text message?
    8. 2:21 – How is it possible to send 2,272 text messages a month? Ten years from now, do you think teenagers will be sending thousands of text messages a month?
    9. 2:24 – How many text messages was that per day? Per hour? Per minute?
    10. 2:34 – What percentage of students in this class own a cell phone? Do you think this is a typical percentage for 8th grade classes everywhere?
    11. 2:57 – Barack Obama won the 2008 Presidential Election because of his use of social media in fundraising. Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not?
    12. 3:45 – How could a mobile device be used in the classroom today, in 2010?

Plan For Independent Practice: Develop a poll to evaluate the information, effectiveness, reliability, accuracy, etc. of the “Did You Know 4.0” video. The poll should ask the reader a question, and then give the opportunity to respond to at least 4 possible answers.

Closure (Reflect Anticipatory Set): Send out a tweet about the “Did You Know 4.0” video. Ask the class to form the tweet in a way that will encourage followers to watch the video.

Assessment Based On Objectives:

  • An informal assessment will be completed by following and reading the backchannel discussion.
  • A formal assessment will be completed by evaluating the polls developed by students.

Adaptations (For Students With Learning Disabilities):

Extensions (For Gifted Students):