Sep 30

Learning to Code

By: Doug Peterson

codess“I had an interesting question asked of me recently.

“What’s the best way for a teacher to learn how to code – take a class or learn online?”

I searched my mind for the best answer.  First, as you know, the options aren’t necessarily exclusive, but I think I understood the intent.  I came back with a lame “It depends upon how you learn best” which is probably a correct answer but, I suspect, totally useless.

For me, learning online or via tutorials, is the most expedient way.  Honestly, though, over the years I’ve learned or dabbled in so many different languages, I probably couldn’t sit down and write a program from beginning to end without messing myself up with syntax or any of the rules of the chosen language.” To read further please click here:

Sep 30

Grading and assessment as an opportunity

By: Greg Jouriles

tests“We have the grade problem at my high school. In the same course or department, a B in one classroom might be an A, or even a C, in another. It’s a problem for us, and, likely, a problem in most schools.

But it has also been an opportunity. Recognizing our grading differences, we opted to create a common conception of achievement, our graduate profile, and department learning outcomes with rubrics. Our standards now align closely with the Common Core State Standards. Second, we created common performance tasks that measure these standards and formative assessments that scaffold to them. Third, we look together at student work. Fourth, we have begun to grade each other’s students on these common tasks.” To read further please click here:

Sep 30

Higher Order Thinking & Creativity in PE


sports“What did you get? ….Ok …Now make a game using that equipment…

Well If you’re unfamiliar with the TV Show ‘Masterchef’, then you may not be aware of the idea of the mystery box challenge.  Essentially in this challenge contestants are given a random collection of ingredients of which they need to utilise in their cooking. Creativity then takes hold and people mix these recipes into impressive meals.

With this in mind earlier this year Brendan Jones at blogged about how he had utilised a mystery box challenge concept within his practical PE classroom. I simply loved the idea and it played nicely into an activity I complete regularly with my older students. So thought I would take the concept, blend in some of my favourite mobile apps and turn it into an assessment activity. Here’s how it worked;”  To  read further please click here:

Sep 30

6 Principles Of Genius Hour In The Classroom

By: Terry Heickgeniouss

Genius Hour in the classroom is an approach to learning built around student curiosity, self-directed learning, and passion-based work.

In traditional learning, teachers map out academic standards, and plan units and lessons based around those standards. In Genius Hour, students are in control, choosing what they study, how they study it, and what they do, produce, or create as a result. As a learning model, it promotes inquiry, research, creativity, and self-directed learning.

Genius Hour is most notably associated with Google, where employees are able to spend up to 20% of their time working on projects they’re interested in and passionate about. The study and work is motivated intrinsically, not extrinsically. The big idea for Google is that employees motivated by curiosity and passion will be happier, more creative,  and more productive, which will benefit the company in terms of both morale, “off-Genius” productivity, and “on-Genius” performance.”

curiosity, self-directed learning, and passion-based work. …

Sep 29

Doing it Differently: Tips for teaching vocabulary

By: Rebecca Alber

vocabu“Every Monday, my seventh grade English teacher would have us copy a list of 25 words she’d written on the board. We’d then look up the dictionary definitions and copy those down. For homework, we’d re-write each word seven times.

Good, now you know it. Test on Friday and never for those 25 words to be seen again. Poof. Old school, yes. Mundane task, yes. Did it work? I don’t remember. Probably not.

Copying definitions from the dictionary we would probably all agree is not an effective way to learn vocabulary. Passive learning hardly ever is. It’s just often the way we learned, and as teachers, we sometimes fall back on using these ways when teaching rather than taking a good look at student data, the latest research, and then trying something new.

The truth is, and the research shows, students need multiple and various exposures to a word before they fully understand that wordand can apply it. They need also to learn words in context, not stand alone lists that come and go each week. Of course the way we learn words in context, or implicitly, is by reading, then reading some more. (This is why every classroom should have a killer classroom library stocked full of high-interest, age appropriate books.)” To read further please click here:

Sep 29

How Facial Expressions Can Help With Classroom Management

By: Ariel Sacks

deeper learning“It’s late in September and the novelty of the new year is beginning to wear off.  I know some students will test the boundaries of appropriate classroom behavior to see what will happen, and others just plain struggle to get through day after day of school.  I find myself remembering a piece of helpful advice I learned in my first year of teaching.

Ms. Cunningham had been a special education teacher for decades, and was probably the most senior member of my school’s staff. That year she was serving as a literacy coach while she pursued her doctorate in education, and so I had the benefit of her eyes on my teaching from time to time.  She was known for being “old school” when it came to classroom management, and students who were unruly most anywhere else wouldn’t dream of it in her classroom.” To read further please click here:

Sep 29

Google Classroom: Numbering Assignments

By:Alice Keeler

google classroom“Previously I had blogged on assignment naming conventions for Google Classroom. The more I use Google Classroom the more I am liking numbering my assignments. I have numbered my assignments for years. When attempting to enter grades into the gradebook it is easy to find where to input assignment #012, it is next to #011. No more scrolling through and overlooking an assignment. Numbering assignments also makes student conversations about work significantly easier. “Joe, you are missing assignments #013, #027 and #067.” It is easier to jot this on a piece of paper and solves some confusion problems about which assignment we are talking about exactly.

Google Classroom

When you make an assignment in Google Classroom it automatically creates a folder in your Google Drive with the same name.” To read further please click here:

Sep 29

Video Tutorials to Help You Create A Classroom Website Using Weebly

By: Med Kharbach

weebly“One of my favourite free web tools I always recommend for creating classroom websites ( besides Google sites) is Weebly for Education. Technically speaking, Weebly is very easy to set up. Also, its drag and drop editor is pretty simple to use. You can add videos, pictures, maps and text by simply dragging them to your website. Another key feature provided by Weebly is about students and teachers privacy. Teachers can password protect all their students website with one click. They can also easily bulk create new students accounts and oversee their students activity.” To read further pleae click here:

Sep 28

How To Create A Paperless Classroom With Your Blog

By:Tiziana Saponaro

paperless3Classroom ManagementMy blog is an online hub. It is mainly an information portal that I use to provide content (flipped classroom style). This is where I post educational resources such as multimedia, online quizzes, assignments, and directions for completing educational tasks. I also use my blog to showcase student work, by posting photos and videos of students, so that parents get an idea of how their children are studying with me.

Organization of notes with DropboxDropbox is an amazing tool for teachers. It is completely free and it works with any operating system or electronic device. In addition, it allows me to avoid the enormous paper stack that used to pile on my desk. It is a really effective tool which I use to post and share lessons with my students, to send them large attachments, to create online-shared folders, and to store homework assignments, handouts and articles. At the same time, students can electronically drop-off their homework. ” To read further please click here:

Sep 28

The Power of “I Don’t Know”

By:  Heather Wolpert-Gawron

class read“The role of teaching has evolved. No longer are we the carriers of knowledge, giving it to students and assessing if they can repeat facts successfully. We are, instead, tasked with teaching students how to find answers themselves.

And it all starts with a simple three-word phrase: I don’t know.

Adopting a comfortable “I don’t know” attitude is far more accurate for what we need to do as educators then pretending we know it all. It sounds counterintuitive, I know. After all, in many job interviews, “I don’t know” stereotypically shows a lack of experience in the field, right? (I would argue that this is also starting to evolve, however.)

But in school where every client is a work in progress, we need to cultivate a certain excitement in not knowing something. Modeling an excited “I don’t know” attitude is the brass doorknob that opens the portal to finding answers together.” To read further please click here:

Sep 28

An introduction to using Twitter as a teacher

By:Mark Anderson

twitter for teachers“Have you been hearing how great Twitter can be as a teacher to support your CPD and enhance and inform your practice? Well the rumours are right!

Below is a short screencast focussing on Twitter basics and educational hashtags (thanks to@TeamTait for the infographic) to help get you started! You can of course follow me on Twitter on@ICTEvangelist.

If you’re looking for another place to start, please check the hashtag #battt and the account@battt – an account and hashtag that attempts to ‘bring a teacher to Twitter’. Lots of new tweeters and support can be gained through this account. If you’re stuck, please drop @MrWaldram or I a tweet.” To read further please click here:

Sep 28

55+ Quiet Time Activities

By:Holly Homer

primaryQuiet time activities are perfect for your kids that have stopped taking daily naps, but are still in need of a little down time.  If you aren’t able to get them to lay down for a bit of rest, trying these activities may be a great solution.

All of these activities are quiet, simple, and don’t involve a lot of energy from the kids.  They can sit down with them and quietly engage for a bit.  One in particular may even help them fall asleep! (Number six.)” To read further please click here:

Sep 27

Start from scratch with coding

By:Nicole Krueger

coding students“Learning how to use technology prepares students to become expert consumers. Learning how to program technology, however, makes them powerful creators.

Coding is no longer just for students who are interested in a programming career.
Just as pen and paper were integral tools for the information age, coding has become one of the basic building blocks of a digital society — not to mention one of the most relevant and widely applicable STEM subjects to learn. Programming skills give students the power to influence and direct their future.

“All of my students learn to persevere, to not be afraid of making a mistake and to enjoy a challenge,” said teacher Deb Smith. “Their sense of accomplishment is priceless.”

Since only one in 10 schools offer computer programming classes, bringing coding into the classroom often means teachers must start from scratch. So we asked educators to offer their best tips for getting started. Here’s what they said:” To read further please click here:

Sep 27

7 important LMS features to support Synchronous Learning

By:Nikos Andriotis

synchronous“E-learning, and if you follow this blog you probably already know that, has many advantages over traditional classroom based learning. Those advantages range from reduced operation costs and the ability to address huge audiences, to quantifiable insights on students’ progress and quick deployment.

Of course the first and foremost advantage of e-learning is freeing students from being tied to a particular place and time ― the ability to take courses at your own pace, on your own chosen time, and from your own premises (even in your pajamas!).

Sometimes, though, a specific course or a specific lesson requires real-time or even face to face communication, and e-learning, thanks to the capabilities of modern networks and communications technologies can adapt to that too. This type of e-learning, in which students and teachers interact at the same time, is called “synchronous” in the relevant jargon. Ιn this blog post we’ll describe some essential LMS features to support synchronous learning.” To read further please click here:

Sep 27

How iPads Can Refresh Traditional Classrooms

By: Jenny Collins

apps3“Following the trend of mass mobile device adoption, educators increasingly contemplate possibilities of using iPads in classroom. State-of-the-art mobile technology is getting more and more popular in different settings and schools are no exception. Adoption of mobile devices is transforming traditional classrooms into a place that delivers real-world knowledge using efficient tech resources.


Why So Popular?

In the era of digital data and online communications, iPads are able to reach spaces traditional teaching methods cannot. These spaces mostly refer to the Internet and a variety of applicationsand pieces of information available online. Constant access to important educational resources is probably the major benefit of using iPads in classroom but it’s up to an educator to find the right ways to use it.

An additional reason to consider using iPad as an educational tool is the fact that learners have been actively using it in private purposes for years. So, what’s the point of limiting their use in classroom if teenagers already have a constant access to them outside of it?” To read further please click here:

Sep 27

The Reflective Teacher: Taking a Long Look

By:Nicholas Provenzano

teachers welcoming“School has been in session for a few weeks, and things might be finally settling down for most teachers. Days seem to pass by so quickly that it seems amazing anything was accomplished. Despite the whirlwind start of the year, it’s still important to make time for reflection.

It took me some time realize that reflection is vital to my growth as an educator. I also needed to learn what real reflection looked like. It’s so much more than thinking that I did a good job or changing one essay question. Here are four things that I’ve done over the past few years to aid in my reflection and help me grow as a learner and a teacher.

1. Feedback from Students

One always scary but very important thing is asking the students how the lesson went. This can be done in class with a quick show of hands or a Google Form emailed to students and parents. Part of reflection is taking an honest look at how things are going. To do that, it’s crucial to hear from others. As valuable stakeholders in the classroom, students and parents might see something that the teacher would not.” To read further please click here:


Sep 26

Class Management with Class Dojo

By:Dave Dodgson

dojoWhat is Class Dojo?

For those of you who are unfamiliar, Class Dojo is in short an online version of a points reward system. It allows the teacher to reward examples of positive behaviour and hard work with a +1 and there is also the option to flag instances of undesirable behaviour (or things that ‘need work’ as the site itself states). All you need is an in-class internet connection and a teacher account for the website.
“But why do this online?” you may ask. Well, if you have kept a paper-based points system in class before, you know how much work that can be – constantly producing charts, posters, cards and other ways to track points that need updating and replacing at regular intervals… With Class Dojo, you just need to enter your students’ names into the system and your class is ready to go. Each student also gets a cute little alien/monster avatar (there are also ‘critters’ if you have older students who might find these babyish), which can be edited if they have a student code, this making the whole process more personalised.” To read further please click here:

Sep 26

How to Use Evernote to Get the Most from a Conference

By:Kristina Hjelsand

evernote45“If you’re planning on attending a conference or two this fall (such as our annual Evernote Conference next week), it’s helpful to have an action plan for getting the most out of these typically hectic, information-packed events. We’ve outlined some of our best tips to put in play before, during, and after a conference:

Conference prep

  • Create a notebook: make a notebook just for the conference to keep all the details together.
  • Don’t lose your conference pass: keep a copy of your registration in Evernote so you won’t lose it.
  • Make a schedule: create a list in Evernote of the talks and sessions you’ll attend, including date, time, and location.

To read further please click here:

Sep 26

Ofsted: an hour of teaching each day lost to bad behaviour

By:Graeme Paton

disruptive in class“Children are losing up to an hour a day of teaching because of a damaging culture of low-level disruption and disrespect in schools, according to Ofsted.

In the biggest report of its kind, the education watchdog warned that misbehaviour was accepted as part of “everyday life” in the classroom, with two-thirds of teachers admitting it was a major problem.

Inspectors told how chatter, calling out without permission, swinging on chairs, play fighting, throwing paper planes, using mobile phones and quietly humming was “very common” in schools.

Teachers estimated that pupils were losing up to an hour every day – the equivalent of 38 days of teaching each year – because of indiscipline.

The report, which was based on inspections of schools combined with large-scale surveys of teachers and parents, represents Ofsted’s most wide-ranging investigation into the state of behaviour in England’s classrooms.” To read further please click here:

Sep 26

Designing Curriculum That Teachers Will Actually Use

By: Grant Wiggins

curriculumm“What is leadership in curriculum?

Whatever the answer, the question should not be confused with a related but far different query: What is management in curriculum? Yet, I suspect that few people with curricular responsibilities appreciate how different the questions and answers are – and why real leadership is rare yet sorely needed now.


Curriculum management is an easy-to-grasp idea. An administrator with curriculum-management obligations ensures that the curriculum gets revised or at least examined in cycles, e.g. every 5 years, on a staggered calendar. Then, the manager ensures that time and money is set aside in July for the work, and requests/invitations for teacher-writers are sent out. At the writing meetings the writers make decisions on how to tweak lessons or activities and suggest resources. The work is done when time and budget run out.

Such work requires no leadership per se. And such work predictably leads to documents that educators in the schools who were not part of the writing rarely consult. Why do we keep permitting such a vital task to continue with such obviously poor results?” To read further please click here:

Sep 25

Creating a Dynamic Facebook Page for Your School

By: Anne O’Brien

obrien-use-facebook-for-school-pr-460x345“There are a number of reasons that educators use social media. Most often, we talk about its potential impact on student engagement and learning, educator professional growth and family communications. We speak less frequently about another important use: Marketing and public relations.

Historically, most public schools haven’t actively marketed themselves — and they haven’t needed to. But in the evolving landscape of public education, with ever-present conversations about school choice and concerns about school quality, that is changing. As Principal Michael Waiksnis wrote in Principal Leadership:

“Public education has been taking a beating in the press and in popular culture for some time now. If you judge schools solely by the news and peoples’ perceptions, all US educators would all be working in downright awful schools. But the truth isn’t close to what is portrayed by many of those outside education. As educators working on the front lines every day, what can we do to accurately tell our stories?”

One place where schools and districts can take charge of their image is Facebook. And as of September 2013, 71 percent of online adults used Facebook — so the audience is there.” To read further please click here:

Sep 25

This Startup Hopes To Revolutionize Early Education By Letting Kids Build Their Own Apps

coding“Yogev Shelly had a vision for children’s education. What if, instead of downloading ready-made apps, kids could build their own apps and games — and in the process not just learn about different subjects, but also become more creative, engaged, and technologically adept?

Shelly started TinyTap do just that. TinyTap is a platform enabling kids to create their own educational apps and embrace learning on their own terms. The idea was so innovative, the startup received $1 million in funding as the Education winner of Verizon’s Powerful Answers Award.

Now partially based in San Francisco, TinyTap is working with the Children’s Creativity Museum and other groups such as Edventure More, which recently hosted a “hackathon” where kids used TinyTap to build learning games using their own family photos. “A program like TinyTap could really change early childhood education,” says Ed Caballero, executive director of Edventure More. ” To read further please click here:

Sep 25

Digital Education: One Giant Leap for Students — and Teachers Too?

By:Duncan Higgins

codingg“The recent introduction of coding across classrooms in the UK is a mini Apollo moon-landing as far as children’s education in the 21st century goes. Picture scenes of 5-year-olds coming home from school and telling their parents about algorithms, debugging and Boolean logic! Parents, are you feeling slightly spooked by reading this? Then brace yourselves to answer the odd coding related question as confidently as the sum of five plus 10!

About a year ago, the Department for Education (DfE) outlined its vision for today’s students and tomorrow’s workers to be “digitally literate” citizens. It talked about turning students into “active participants in a digital world” — getting involved in creating and developing, and not just being passive consumers of tech.” To read further please click here:

Sep 25

Differentiated Instruction Strategies Using Tiered Assignments

By: Janelle Cox

assignments“Many teachers use differentiated instruction strategies as a way to reach all learners and accommodate each student’s learning style. One very helpful tactic to employ differentiated instruction is called tiered assignments—a technique often used within flexible groups.

Much like flexible grouping—or differentiated instruction as a whole, really—tiered assignmentsdo not lock students into ability boxes. Instead, particular student clusters are assigned specific tasks within each group according to their readiness and comprehension—without making them feel completely compartmentalized away from peers at different achievement levels.

There are six main ways to structure tiered assignments: Challenge level, complexity, outcome, process, product, or resources. It is your job—based upon the specific learning tasks you’re focused on—to determine the best approach. Here we will take a brief look at these techniques.

Challenge Level

Tiering can be based on challenge level where student groups will tackle different assignmentsaltogether. Teachers can use Bloom’s Taxonomy as a guide to help them develop tasks of structure, or questions at various levels.” To read further please click here:

Sep 24

Classroom in the Cloud: Technology as a Learning Environment

By:Laura Fleming

learning 3d“In September 2013, I was recruited by then-principal Eric Sheninger to be the new library media specialist of New Milford (New Jersey) High School, and was tasked with seeking to improve student performance by developing an exciting and engaging learning environment for all. My vision was of a learner-centered space where students and teachers would have access to exciting technologies, digital and print resources, and productive spaces offering scope for collaboration and creativity. In seeking to turn what been a largely unvisited and unused library into a vibrant part of the school community, I felt challenged by the limitations of the physical space. The library had not been renovated in decades, and it offered very little in terms of what a modern-day learning “commons” should be.

My inspiration at this point was Pixar Animation Studios. I’d read that Pixar had set itself on the path of being a constant learning organization, and I remembered that part of the impetus behind their mission had been attributed to their flexible, creative, and collaborative office spaces. I combined the ideas that I garnered from Pixar’s quest with a quote from Winston Churchill that I have always liked: “We shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us.”To read further please click here:

Sep 24

Kids coding at school: ‘When you learn computing, you’re thinking about thinking’

By: Stuart Dredge

codess“Children across England have been back at school for a few weeks now, and with the launch of a revamped computing curriculum, they’ll be learning some new skills: including programming.

Pupils as young as five will be learning about algorithms and computational thinking, as well as creating and debugging simple programs of their own, using a variety of tools. It’s a big shakeup for children and teachers alike.The changes have been widely praised within the technology industry, but there are also critics questioning the value of teaching programming to young children, or wondering whether enough teachers have the skills and support that they’ll need to teach computing.

The new curriculum sparks debate, it’s fair to say. “We helped write it. It’s our fault!” chuckles Bill Mitchell, who as director of education at BCS, the Chartered Institute of IT, played a key role in the creation process for the new curriculum.”To read further please click here:

Sep 24

My Three Weeks With Google Classroom

By:David Carruthers

google classroom“Despite some initial shortcomings, Google Classroom has found a permanent home in my learning environment. Google Classroom is the latest addition to Google’s popular apps for education, and like anything new, there’s a learning curve that must be conquered, but persistence usually pays off. The transition to Google Classroom presented some challenges during my first two weeks of use, but as the third week drew to a close, my students and I were beginning to feel that we have turned Google Classroom into a streamlined, time-saving instructional tool. I’ve really begun to appreciate the ease of creating and grading assignments, the instant feedback available to students, and for those of you used to asking your students to remember to “make a copy”, you will appreciate the inclusion of a feature that automatizes this process. However, Google Classroom has some room for growth to truly make a dent in the overcrowded space of educational technology. I’ve been keeping a list, and here’s what I’d like to see Google add in future updates.” To read further please click here:

Sep 24

Listening To Reading in a One iPad Classroom

By: Kathy Cassidy

sharing the opad“When I speak about using iPads in a primary school classroom, I am often asked about how it would work if I only had one iPad as is the case in many classrooms. This post is the first of what I hope will be several with suggestions as to how to make that work effectively.Although my classroom is one to one with iPads, I have many high quality book apps on my own iPad that I did not choose to put on the thirty iPads I have in the Volume Purchase Plan account for the student iPads. Sharing these apps with my students puts me in a similar situation to a one iPad classroom.” To read further please click here:


Sep 23

5 Tips For Keeping Students On Task While Using Technology

By: Katie Lepi

byod2“One of the things I hear most often from teachers who are reluctant to put technology into the hands of their students is that they have visions of students goofing off constantly behind their screen instead of focusing on their work.

Playing games, chatting with their friends, and browsing the internet are all likely suspects drawing your students’ attention away from whatever the task at hand happens to be, but just because students have access to technology doesn’t mean you have to transform into device police and forget about teaching. Even if your students would much rather be watching videos on YouTube than learning about the Roman Empire, you still have the upper hand: they want to be using the device. Period.” To read further please click here: