Friday, April 29, 2011

Top 10 list for 4/29/11

Top 10 List

10. Impress your friends with Educational Jargon Generator

9. A school district’s stand on homework.  Fascinating take and very revolutionary.  What’s your reaction?

8. TEACHING SECRETS:  Get back in touch with your inner Middle Schooler...

7. Cool web 2.0 tools for schools - What a GREAT resource!

6. In thinking about parenting, filtering and our online life

5. 101 Friday Puzzles great for problem solving and critical thinking

4.  Study blue.  A very neat resource for creating resources for students.  There’s also an app for that!

3. 16 things I wish they had taught me in school, I’m especially fond of number 10.

2. What does “Being a great teacher” mean to you?  Great post

1. How to make the PERFECT cup of coffee

Great videos for this week!

Mark Sandborn, great author from Fred factor says why you don’t need a title to lead

How to subscribe to things using your google reader

The “net generation” as learners

Learnitin5 is awesome!  Video on the value of feedback

The Flipped classroom:  I’ve been doing this for years, didn’t think it was revolutionary, just more efficient.  Now it’s revolutionary.

Friday, April 22, 2011

TOP 10 resource found this week 4/22

What an amazing and very busy week.  Two huge committee meetings, class and students shooting off rockets all day at school, HUZZAH!

Here's our rocket launch as we are studying Newton's laws:

Here's the Top 10 for this week!

10. 20 best websites to download FREE books

9. 100 digital storytelling tools for just about anyone

8. Google Doc secrets

7. Free online TV

6. I love this...Spell with flickr

5. Teaching to the text message - cool idea!

4. Ranked TED talks by enegagement

3. Wordlings seems to be the newest word cloud generator.  I still like tagxedo the best though...

2. Feeling like you need a little sarcasm in your life.  This is perfect, let me google that for you...

1. Does homework improve learning?  Read this!

Videos of the week

"Infowhelm" and information Fluency

The future of media

The world is obsessed with Facebook

Problem Based learning.  Haven’t heard of many people using this but I get it...

150+ Online video tools and resources.  I know it's not really a video, but it has so many video resources.

31 jokes for Nerds - hehehe..I lol'D on this one.

This last one will catch your attention:

Would you ever get rid of grades?  Before you gasp for air and freak out watch this video from a colleague @joebower and then comment...

Monday, April 18, 2011

7 Reasons Your School Needs P-90X

So I've been working out using P-90X and I can't seem to shake this post from my brain.  If your school is struggling, stale, or has gained a few pounds, maybe it's time to start working out.  Your school needs P-90X.

Reason 1 - You need a focused intervention.
RTI teaches us that an intervention is no good unless its focused, measurable and revisited after a specific period of time.

Does your school need a focused intervention?  This is the time of year where we often are focusing on summer instead of focusing on getting better.  Finishing those last three reps with intensity requires discipline.  Is your school disciplined?  Are you teaching your students to coast through the last few months or PUSH through the burn?  Are you doing it in just your words or are your every day actions showing your discipline?

Reason 2 - You keep doing the same thing.
Your muscles have a memory, you've been doing the same workout the same way for years because it's what you know, what you are comfortable with.  It's time for variety.

P-90X works because its fast paced and changes constantly and it keeps your muscles guessing.  Is your professional development stale?  Are you doing the same old things the same old ways?  Maybe you need to switch it up.  Here's a novel idea: have students plan or teach your profesional development.

Reason 3 - Your Pam is no longer "Blam".
Pam "the Blam" is a inside joke for those people that have seen the DVDs/videos.  She is a lady that works out and could, without question, take me out in an instant.  There is no doubt she works hard and the main instructor recognizes that effort and nick-names her "the blam."

If you could give everyone at your school nicknames, would they be flattering?  Here's a task, take out your faculty directory and nick-name each person.  Now keep it focused on their effort, their work, what you see in and out of their classroom.  Are they closer to "the Blam" or farther away.  Focus your intervention to get the blam back into their teaching.  Do it for the students!

Reason 4 - You've lost your way (and found your weight)
We've all probably gained a few over the winter at some point in our life.  How has your teaching lost it's way?

P-90X gives you a plan to follow and steps to achieve.  It shows you how to differentiate to your readiness with each set/workout.  Meet with colleagues you trust or as a PLC, develop a plan for your friends, colleagues, PLCs, and school to improve and right the ship.  Questions to ask:  What's stale, what's the focus, how do we improve, how do we measure that improvement, how do we differentiate based on readiness?  Finding those answers will make for a more "fit" you and school for next schol year.

Reason 5 - You're focusing on the rest.
A saying often throughout the DVDs is "do your best, and forget the rest."  Listen, I am in NO WAY as fit as they people on the DVDs.  I can't finish most of the workouts at the level they do.  That can be discouraging, but I press on and am getting better.

How often to we focus on the outside stimuli instead of focusing on the best effort we can give.  Testing is over for the year, forget that, focus on your students and make them the best they can possibly be.  Prepare them for the next teacher, the next schol year, focus on them as individuals and tremendous growth will be shown.  Do the best you can every day with each student, individually, and forget all the rest.

Reason 6 -  What data?
After a set the instructor tells you to go over to your paper and write down the set, reps, weight or resistance you used to track your progress as well as your improvement over time.  This personal accountability allows me to see tangible gains and immediate feedback as to whether or not the program is working.

  • At the end of the school year, what data are you looking at?  
  • How often do you look at it?  
  • Why are you looking at it?  
  • What are you looking for?  
  • Are you making connections or looking for causality?  
  • I understand you may not have the data you need right now, but what data have you collected all year?  Why?  
  • What's the point of that collection and what are you going to do with it?  
  • That's the key, so you collected it, so what, what are you going to do with it?  
  • Are you seeing growth?  Should you?  

Now its time to see if programs are working, if they are not, maybe they need to be reevaluated.

Reason 7 - No Pain, No Gain
Listen.  Working out SUCKS, I know.  I'm doing it right now.  It hurts to move, it hurts to breathe :-).  I also know that pain is making improvements on my body, losing 20+ pounds over the last couple months and seeing on paper my strength gains shows me things are improving.

Making changes in a building or with a team is hard, it's going to hurt.  It's going to hurt feelings, relationships, and maybe the systematic running of day-to-day activities.  But if you are diligent, committed to the change, have a reason to do it, and can constantly monitor improvement.  Your goals will be achieved.

Change is hard, working out sucks, but maybe your school needs a workout.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Top 10 resources for 4/15/11 TAX DAY!

The best resources found this week through twitter and my google reader.  Enjoy!

Top 10 List

10. Just for Fun Haiku Creator

9. Just say NO! to keynote and powerpoint

8. 5 Bookmark tools every educator should have

7. “Every lesson is a balance between something the students can already do & something they are working to master.”

6. What to empower students?  Expect more out of them

5. Things that will be obsolete by 2020:


4.A Google A Day: A fun way to hone your searching skills!

3. Why educators should be using twitter

2. 16 things I wish they would have taught me in school

1. The invisible leader:  A must read for anyone aspiring to lead in any way

Videos of the week!

I love this:  Students used Project Based learning to utilize a cross curricular project as well as a TON of technology....Building a restaurant!

WOW!  Just WOW!  When you identify a kid that is not paying attention in class it’s important to understand attention and just how much we as humans do pay attention.  Great video with many AH HA’s! for me

TMB Panyee - The true story of how innovation, determination can yeild tremendous success.

Words are worse than sticks and stones - good message wish it was appropriate for school....

Really good anti-bullying video

Monday, April 11, 2011

John's Story - A precious and rare perfect moment in life

Okay so the student's name is not actually John but it works....

I coach Football.  I teach 6th grade.  I have been doing it long enough that the students I had when they were in 6th grade I see when they are 16 at JV football.  I'm the offensive coordinator.  John's sister is in my class now, John's mom works with me at the middle school.

This is a TRUE story:

John's a great athlete but rarely gets playing time, he doesn't mind he loves the team more than he loves the sport.  He's a great kid, one that if I had to adopt any kid on any team from any era of my coaching tenure it would be him, to make the story short, he gets it.

John's mom came up to me during the school day and said that John's grandfather was ill and wanted to come see John's football team play.  The family knew that Grandpa's time was short.  John's mom asked of the coach (me) if could he just get in for a few plays so his grandfather could see him play.

Being the offensive coordinator I knew I had the opportunity to get him in more likely than on defense.  Joe is about 110 pounds and no taller than 5'4''.  He's the epitome of Rudy.

It was the fourth quarter and we were winning, but not by much, and it was time to put John in.  He didn't know many of the plays, I tried to get him the ball.  He fumbled.  I called a play it didn't work.  Even though we were winning it was only by 3 points and we were getting very close to our side of the 50 yard line, I can't punt them the ball, we needed a first down.  What happened next was nothing short of amazing.

I called Blue 42 which was our hitch play, thinking we could get enough for a first down, John, as the inside receiver ran a seam route.  Basically, it's a route where Joe gets as close the the safety as possible by runs directly down the field and dos not stop.  The play design was similar to this one:

The play started, nothing was open the the right, the quarterback scrambled, he looked left nothing was open short and he let the ball go deep.  There's no one anywhere near that area, except John.

John got in the game that day, he caught a 45 yard touchdown pass to seal the victory.  I looked on in amazement, I cried on the sidelines.   I found the parents and grandparents of John in the stands and smiled.  Something greater than me happened that day.

Here's the letter I had slid under my door the next morning:

Dear Coach McGee,
To everyone else on the sidelines and in the bleachers it looked very much like a routine reception and another score.  The team and the crowd celebrated heartily but they could not possibly have known what they were really witness to.  It was not a simple touchdown but rather one of those precious and rare perfect moments in life.  They were unaware it was a moment when so many seen and unseen elements came together to create a perfect outcome that can never be repeated.  A few of us however, were fortunate to know that the play on the field and the story in the stands was a moment to cherish forever.

Number 20 will never have another opportunity to take the field with his grandfather in the stands.  His grandfather wil never again experience the thrill and excitement of being in the stands on a perfect football day scanning the field for his grandson who was named in his honor.  As wonderful as it would be for them to come together again as player and proud spectator, neither of them really needs that any longer as a more perfect script could not have been written or executed.  A few magical seconds on the field delivered a bolt of confidence for a young man and a moment of the purest joy for a dying man.  Both will carry the moment with them for the rest of their lives.

I know I will never think about my father without remembering a perfect play on a perfect day.  Thank you for your part in shaping a moment that will be forever in the memory of three generations of a grateful family.

-John's dad

Friday, April 8, 2011

Pre-PD day Top 10 4/8/11

For those of you outside my district we have a web 2.0 PD day coming up on April 15th.

To prepare for this day we brainstormed lists of Web 2.0 Items and then gave each teacher a set of dots.  Dots were placed on butcher paper next to the web 2.0 items they were most interested in learning about.  From here I created a top 10, gather presenters and reserved spaces.

We will have 15 minute sessions and have time for teachers to interact with the presenters afterword to gain further understand and depth.  We're calling this activity "SPEED GEEKING" it's set up similar to speed dating :-).

To prepare for our PD day we're creating here a list of resources for before and after our PD day to access whenever needed.  If you have more resources that fit into these categories please share them through the comments below!

Here goes!

TOP 10 resource for April 15th PD day.

1. Google docs

A guide to going Google

Good tutorial


2. Prezi

Video Tutorials:

3. Edmodo

Blog post about Edmodo as well as Diipo, another site very similar

Video tutorials

4. Dropbox
The complete DROPBOX for educators.

12 popular Mac Apps you can Sync with dropbox

Advanced users can drop music into your dropbox and use droptunes

5. Videos into activInspire

Video tutorials:

6. Webpage authoring

Got nothing on this one.  I taught myself as I went.

If you want to talk about Blogs, I have three I manage. :-)

7. Digital storytelling

Educational uses of digital storytelling

Depending what you want to do there are ton's of resources

8. Voicethread
Using Voicethread for interactive projects

9. ActivInspire

also see 5 above.

I'm adding a 10th that I think is pretty cool it's called livebinders
I LOVE, love, love livebinders.  Here’s a great take on how one teacher uses it.

BONUS video:
The History of Educational technology - Great video to springboard into our PD day

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Planning A Celebration

So two important dates are quickly approaching me and I  have to figure out a way to celebrate.  I need your help!

Important date number 1:

My blog-aversary.  On April 15th I will officially be Blogging for 1 year.  I'm so young and so new at this I need to find a way to celebrate!  Suggestions?

By the way, it's ironic that Tax day is the anniversary fo this blog.

Important date number 2: 

Quickly approaching 10K views.  When that counter flips over, how will I celebrate the exciting opportunity to help others that I always hoped this blog to be?  How will I celebrate?  Suggestions?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Infographic-itize yourself

Pretty cool resource and website.  If you are not multilingual you might want to click the British flag in the corner.

Here's mine...

Go here to make yours.

Friday, April 1, 2011

No Fooling: Top 10 list for 4/1/11

BONUS - April Fool's resources:

Ning of resources

Top 100 April Fool's jokes of all time

Spaghetti Harvest

Gmail Motion

Top 10 Resources of the week! No Fooling here!

10. Pretty overwhelming and pretty amazing at the same time. Links and images organized by topic or theme.  Pretty cool!  You can set up an account, make this your homepage, personalize the “MyFaves” section and get almost anywhere you need to go.

9.  Great guy, Great resources, Great site, Don’t know what else to say

8.  QR codes in education.  More than you every thought was imaginable

How it’s used in advertising and marketing:

7.  Sick of all the distractions on You tube, give silenttube a try...

6.  Is twitter a two way street?  My PLN would say so, Freakonomics, says NO!

5.  Good blog post on “why you aren’t as successful as you want to be.”  I like some of the ideas here.  I often get lost in the to do list and miss out on focusing on my goals or personal vision.

4.  Bounce – seems to be a cool way to annotate over a website and share it with students

3.  8 Quick online word games

2.  Risk taking in the classroom is always an interesting topic of discussion.  Standardization, data-based and research-based decisions and actions often stifle the creativity and passion of educators.  Every once in a while it’s okay to not be “research based”

1.  Math teachers and dorks like me will LOVE this.  Enter a number and it’ll tall you everything you every wanted to know about it but were afraid to ask

Top Videos of the week:

Let’s use video to reinvent education.

This video inspired me to FLIP my classroom.  What does it mean to "FLIP" your classroom.  I no longer give notes/lecture/have students write things down during class.  Class is time to investigate, try things out and make mistakes while I'm there to  provide guidance.
Resources on Flip Teaching:
University of Northern Colorado:

I love Seth Godin, I love education, I love this video

Okay seriously,  Dan Meyer is the SICKEST (as in he is very good) educator I know.  I wish I had half the talent and skill he does.  You’ll see why here:

ADE Application Video — Dan Meyer from Dan Meyer on Vimeo.