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How and Why We Read: Crash Course English Literature #1

In which John Green kicks off the Crash Course Literature mini series with a reasonable set of questions. Why do we read? What’s the point of reading critically? John will argue that reading is about effectively communicating with other people. Unlike a direct communication though, the writer has to communicate with a stranger, through time and space, with only “dry dead words on a page.” So how’s that going to work? Find out with Crash Course Literature! Also, readers are empowered during the open letter, so that’s pretty cool.


Hallway: Learning Simplified.

Hallway is a social learning network that makes peer-peer collaboration simple, social, and global. On Hallway students can pass notes, ask questions, collaborate on assignments, and stay organized. Hallway makes it easier than ever for students to learn and connect with their friends, classmates, and the world.

(by Sean McElrath)

K-12 iPad Deployment Checklist


Here are two of the most important items on the list:

Staff training - It can’t be overstated enough that these devices need to be in the hands of teachers well before the student models arrive.  They need to feel comfortable with them and start thinking of ideas to integrate them into their instruction.  Summertime is an ideal time to get most of the level-based integration training, but consider putting training in an iTunesU course to revisit at a later date.  Throughout the year, provide opportunities to share what they have learned with their peers in an informal setting (which we like to call “Appy Hours“).  The collaboration doesn’t have to be face-to-face either, set up grade-level teams in Edmodo so they can share ideas across the district as a way to virtually meet.

Student training - Don’t assume that every kid knows how to use the iPad.  These kids may be digital natives, but most of their exposure to these devices has been for entertainment more than for education.  Lessons of digital citizenship and internet safety will need to be developed and taught, but also don’t overlook the fact that many students will need tutorials on how to set up their email, submit assignments, and backing up their data.



Googleable or Not Gooleable?

Every topic, every bit of learning has content that can be Googled, and we don’t want teachers wasting precious enquiry time lecturing that content. We want students, instead, to be using class time to collaborate and debate around the questions that are Not Googleable, the rich higher order thinking to which neither the textbook nor the teacher know the answers.

Love it.


Evaluating Apps with Transformative Use of the iPad in Mind

We are in need to chart a new course, not merely following in the footsteps of the ones who came before us and not simply adapt the tools at our disposal to the “old way of doing things”.

More importantly, we are in dire need of educators who are willing to use their imagination, experiment, revise a course of action, innovate and share their best practice in regards to using iPads in education. 

I came upon the following rubrics (1) developed by Harry Walker and (2) based on Kathy Schrock and updated by Greg Alchin.

With the above rubrics as an inspiration, I created the following iPad App Evaluation for the Classroom info-flyer to be used by teachers to critically look at each app they are contemplating using with their students.

You can download the rubric as a PDF here:

10 Ways to Cheat-Proof Your Classroom


A fascinating article. Here are three of the ten:

  1. Critical Thinking: The best assignments cannot be copied. This might include asking students to develop an argument and defend it individually or having students develop their own math problems or their own processes for solving shared math problems. 
  2. Move Toward Mastery: Help students see that the goal is not completion, but mastery. Get rid of averages and zeroes. Students need to understand that cheating prevents teachers from providing necessary intervention and plan for future learning. 
  3. Monitor Frequently Engage with Students Often: If a student turns in a plagiarized essay, chances are the teacher wasn’t part of the pre-planning, writing and editing process. Teachers need to monitor students often and provide instant feedback so that incompletion doesn’t snowball into an opportunity to cheat.

100 Ways You Should Be Using Facebook in Your Classroom [Updated]


Here are the first four:

  1. Ask for information: Instead of trusting Wikipedia, ask the crowd on Facebook. One kindergarten teacher asked parents to research seeds and got great information about the largest seed in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
  2. Attend remote lectures: Using Facebook, you can tune into remote lectures and presentations from around the world.
  3. Museums and more: Help your students follow along with local and international museums, art galleries, exhibits, and more for enriched learning on Facebook.
  4. Firsthand research: Students can connect with family members for genealogy assignments, discuss issues with local celebrities and more through Facebook.
Students aren’t just posting personal pictures and stories on Facebook — it’s just as much a part of their social lives as it is a place where they connect with each other for school work, too. According to the survey, 46 percent of students have used Facebook to collaborate on school projects, and one in 10 high school students have tweeted about an academic subject. Meanwhile, in formal classroom settings, the practice of using these online tools as an acceptable means of learning has been slow: half of all middle and high school students say they can’t access social media sites at school. Educational policy makers need to connect the dots between what motivates and encourages students to learn and what’s actually happening in the classroom, the report states.
Schools and Students Clash Over Use of Technology | MindShift (via infoneer-pulse)

Teacher Development: Starter Kit for Teaching Online | Edutopia


If you want to teach online, here’s a starter kit from Edutopia. My sister teachers remotely and it isn’t the cushy, relaxing job that many describe. It may have flexibility but it is very hard work with many of the same issues you have in a face to face classroom. Just be aware that if you don’t want to work, you shouldn’t teach: offline or face to face. Teaching, in my experience, takes everything you have but it gives you far more in return.

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