Posts Tagged ‘education’

BigHugeLabs – 3 Minute Tech

April 28, 2012 Leave a comment

In this weeks 3 Minute Tech, I take a look at BigHugLabs offers various project ideas for educators and students. Also, many of these projects can be used for more then one kind of lesson, unit, or even subject! One of the benefits of BigHugeLabs is that they offer a free educator account. Using this account teachers can pre-create student accounts without requiring emails. Another benefit is that teachers have access to the awesome creations their students make!

If you have used BigHugeLabs in the classroom, please share some of your student creations in the comment sections!

To see all the videos in the 3 Minute Tech series, please be sure to visit the 3 Minute Tech Playlist on YouTube.

Google Trek – 3 Minute Tech

April 17, 2012 Leave a comment

I was recently re-introduced to the idea of Google Treks by a fellow educator. Previously for some unknown reason, I thought they were useless. Luckily, I have seen the errors of my way and couldn’t wait to show everyone else in my district the awesomeness of Google Treks! These are really super easy to make and even easier to share. The lesson plan possibilities based off these are endless! To help introduce my fellow teachers about Google Treks, I created a brand new 3 Minute Tech video. If you have yet to try making one of these, go to Dr. Alice Christie’s  Google Trek website for outstanding tutorials and examples.

On a side note, if you are someone getting married this summer, or the parent of one of these lucky newlyweds, think how awesome it would be to share a Google Trek with your wedding guests! You could show family and friends neat places in your town, location of the wedding and/or reception, and so much more! If you create a neat Google Trek, please share the link. I would love to see your creations.

3 Minute Tech

April 17, 2012 Leave a comment

3 minutes will be all I ask of teachers and staff in my school district. I recently started a new tech training titled, “3 Minute Tech.” As the name implies, the training will take no longer then three minutes. These training’s will be brief YouTube videos highlighting useful websites for students, teachers, and staff. You can view the first video in the series here, The End of Picnik. If you enjoy the video or the idea of 3 Minute Tech, I would love to hear your ideas for future topics! Please send me your ideas via this blog or find my contact information on my official homepage,

SLATE 2010

December 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Today and tomorrow I will be tweeting live for the SLATE 2010 Conference in Wisconsin. Please follow me at

Movie Day!

December 7, 2010 2 comments

Movie day, what every student young and old loves to hear.  Movies can have a profound educational experience or be a time filler.  I tend not to use them for the latter purpose.  I think every teacher has a favorite movie to share with students.  When I use to teach Economics, I loved to show “Monsters, Inc.”  Now before you start judging me, I had a purpose.  At about the point I finished teaching Supply and Demand most young students brains started to shutdown.  I did not blame them, some adults still find these concepts hard to grasp.

I would inform them at the start of class that we would watch a film that demonstrated supply and demand, scarcity, shortages, ethical dilemmas, and much more.  I also told them they would have to write a two page report describing those topics in detail.  At the first or maybe second grumble I would then start the movie.  The minute students say the Disney logo they would get confused and once they say the main screen a few would chuckle.  The video normally took 2-3 days to show.  After the first day many students would question how these economic questions could be in the movie, but after a night of thinking they would come back and be amazed.  In the end, the reports students wrote for this film were some of the best reports I received from any other class.

Now this is just my example, so what are some movies you have seen that have had a profound impact on you, your classroom, or on your students?  Please share your thoughts and/or insights through a comment or a tweet!

Image Courtesy of Francesco Marino

The Education of our Educators

November 25, 2010 4 comments

As I was browsing through random articles tonight, I found an interesting blog posting on The Huffington Post.  It discussed some recent comments by Education Secretary Arne Duncan.  It looked at the idea of making teacher training like med school, in the sense of the idea of residences.  The idea is that education students would be observe and work more in schools near their college/university throughout the college years.

This is a great idea, but wait, don’t most places already do this?  I know when I was in college I had to obtain a minimum of twenty observation hours per semester.  Often I exceeded this since I enjoyed working with some of the teachers.  As I have been teaching for a few years now I have been honored to have college students from different places observe and teach in my class.

The article does discuss that students say their programs failed to prepare them for their classrooms.  This is probably true in any college program though.  It is hard to actually prepare anyone to be one their own in any job field, teaching especially.  Some of the parts of teaching is learned through ones own mistakes and successes.  Teaching is not a controlled environment where ever situation is the same and is handled in the same manner.  Also, when future-teacher walks into a classroom, its atmosphere has already been created by the main teacher.  That future-teacher will more then likely not run into the problems of a poorly ran classroom.

The merit and point of this article is great.  Getting teachers more experience in the classroom is a great way to prepare them for the future, but I am not sure the med school way of doing this is the best.  Unfortunately sometimes student teachers and teachers themselves need to get a few bumps and bruises before they learn their teaching method.  That in essence though is the main root of learning.  We make our mistakes and get better from it.  If we do not allow our future teachers to do the same, they will just imitate instead of becoming great!


Belmont, Fred. “Teaching Teachers a Better Way.” The Huffington Post. V, 23 Nov. 2010. Web. 24 Nov. 2010. <;.

Photo Courtesy of Maggie Smith,

All I can say is “wow.”

November 12, 2010 4 comments

Every morning I wake up and check Google News to see what is happening in the world or to find information to share with students.  This morning I was astonished and horrified when I read an article from The New York Times.  The article titled, “Like a Monitor More Than a Tutor,” talked about busy families hiring tutors for their children. At first I was glad to see parents helping their children achieve better and focusing on their education.  The happy session ended about half-way through the article when this quote occurred, ““I don’t want to have friction between the two of us,” she said, speaking of homework. “It made more sense for me to step out of it.””

Step out of it?  You are the child’s parent, you need to step in it!  Yes being involved and caring for your child creates friction, but that is a good thing.  Friction is what causes growth and maturing.  When people have friction they are forced to work on their relationship.  Avoiding friction does not allow for bonding or finding ways to work together.

As a teacher I attempt to create friction everyday in my classroom.  I attempt to push students to do more and to achieve their best.  I create assignments to challenge them and maybe even create a little dislike for me because it is hard.  It is my job to create that friction in learning and not be afraid of it.  It is parents jobs to create friction that makes their child a better person as a whole.  That does mean Mrs. Sternberg you need to make sure your child does their homework, even if makes your son angry.

Works Cited
Nir, Sarah M. “Like a Monitor More Than a Tutor.” Homework Helpers Focus Students’ Attention. The New York Times, 7 Nov. 2010. Web. 10 Nov. 2010

1st Quarter….Check

November 9, 2010 4 comments

1st quarter of the school year is on the books and three left to go!  It was a busy quarter in many ways.  I implemented some new policies, introduced students to Edmodo, gutted and redid my school homepage, became more active on Twitter, and managing the middle school yearbook club.

Somethings went smoothly and others were a tad bumpy.  Edmodo has been a interesting twist in my classroom.  Not only has it replaced email, but has actually made me get organized!  I post my lesson plans everyday for students to see, I use it for collecting homework, and sharing files/links.  It has really changed the way I do my class.  Recently I was honored to teach other teachers how to use Edmodo at our last district in-service.  You can see an example of what I taught teachers by following this link:  It was a pretty successful in-service and many teachers are now interested in Edmodo.

On the bumpy side my homepage revisions have not been as smooth.  I am a little happy with some new additions and changes, but I do not stay on-top of it enough.  The time I should be spending on it has been used tweaking Edmodo.  I am sure there is a way I can integrate the two, but there is just not enough time in the day.  One other problem is I do not have a way to monitor page views/visits right now.  Since the page is hosted through the school, I do not have access to the information.  Also, to view my page a person has to go through a complicated process, which I feel hinders parents visiting it.  Sometime in December I will  do a survey and see how much of an impact the website and/or Edmodo has.

“I hate school!”

October 27, 2010 Leave a comment

How many times has an educator heard these words?  Well, if you are an educator, you probably heard it once or twice or more today.  Like many I am a teacher who tries to get students to enjoy school and reach their best potential.  The other day though I almost freaked out.  I was wandering through a local bookstore and heard a mother and daughter debating in the row next to me.  The mother was talking about how much she hated school when she was young and was telling her daughter it was okay to basically do the same.  She (the mother) stated that the teachers didn’t do anything to keep her attention and did not teach her anything useful.  The mother then stated that since she has now returned to college she likes learning and the teachers are so much better.

It took all my energy not to start freaking out at this point.  I wanted to say it was not the teachers it was her maturity that made the difference!  The mother did not realize that at this point she has learned the education and learning is important.  As I was contemplating this, I wondered at what age to some of these kids who say “I hate school” mature enough to realize education is important.  Well, I checked at some statistics and figured the best way to figure it out was to see the average age of a G.E.D. recipient.  According to the American Council on Education that ‘magical’ age is 25.6.  At this ‘magical’ age students who hated school realize that education is important (or at least important enough for a job).

I guess the question should be though, what can we do to lower that age of maturity.  How do we make students who hate school realize that education is important before the age of 25.6?  Of course there is the possibility that we can’t lower that age, maybe it is one of those ‘Nature vs Nurture’ type problems.

On a side note though, our maturity age is five years younger then Canada (average age of G.E.D. recipient is 31.6).

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Changing Gears

September 19, 2010 Leave a comment

This year I challenged myself to use more and new technology.  It was a slow start in the beginning, but I have made some big changes lately.  One large change was switching from email to Edmodo as the means of classroom communication.  This has been a beneficial change and one that the students have embraced.  When I originally stated last year to a tech committee that I decided to stop using email some people did not agree.  It seems now though they would have to reconsider their opposition when looking at comments recently made by Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, that only 11% of teens email daily.  Edmodo has also allowed me to stream line my grading and classroom discussion.  Here is an example of a classroom discussion that was held via Edmodo, “Leave it on or Turn it off.”

While using Edmodo I found I needed a better way to get my instructions to students with little interruption from me.  I finally decided to start using my school issued website and got my butt in gear.  I found that I could use a built-in calendar function and PDFs to tell students what they need to do in a fast and productive manner.  So far this has been working pretty well and students seem to be catching on.  You can see what I have so far by clicking this link: Assignment Sheets.

The last thing I have only recently started doing is screen capture videos.  This past summer I found myself doing tech trainings for my school district on how to use Microsoft Office 2010 and our new Microsoft network.  It became apparent I needed to do something more then just printouts of instructions and looked into screen capture software.  I came across a program called Jing from a fellow educator and have found it to be excellent!  The free version (which I have been using) creates video screen captures with audio in 5 minute segments in ShockWave Flash format.  It has worked seamlessly so far and is easy to use.  I only recently created a video for more students on how to create Block Style Letters.  This seemed to make a big difference in class and students seemed to really like it!  I am polling them next week in Edmodo, so numbers to come soon.

Well, that is about all I have achieved so far in the first 3 weeks of school.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that everything keeps going smoothly.