This is a new spin on an everyday craft.

Hopefully this will make us all smile.  These guys have done it again.  Sometimes their humor is over the top, and I certainly wouldn’t share their antics in the classroom.  But this time, they have dedicated their humor to a serious topic.  I invite you to watch this.  Click on the words to link to the video.   Key and Peele Sports Center for Teacherskey_peele_teacher_1.0 (Be sure to watch the video in its entirety).


Free Computers may not Close the Education Gap

2839835109_20ff928db4_n Free Computers Don’t Close the Gap

A recent study, where children in California were given free computers in an effort to improve their performance in school, had some unfortunate mixed outcomes.  Students became more familiar with the internet and information offered on line, but they also became more familiar with social media and unwanted video games.  Children were spending as much time on games and social media sites as they were on their school work.  Researchers also found that parents weren’t always diligent about encouraging college.  It turns out that tech jobs were not seen as part of a poor kids future.

The results are not surprising that family and the environment are strong predictors of the outcome of a child’s success.  This is common knowledge among psychologist who study child development.  However, I would wager that the researchers of the study may have been aiming too high and were looking for huge outcome.  Maybe they should have been looking at individual outcomes.  The impact of a computer varies and effects each person differently.  If one or two families benefited, then that outcome could have implications for generations to come.

As a teacher, I would invite parents into the classroom for a discussion about the new laptops to be distributed.  I would also provide strategies they could use when monitoring their child’s activity on the laptops.  This would include providing them with appropriate ways of blocking the usage when they don’t want their child on-line.  I would also provide scheduled updates on materials their children are studying in school that would require the use of a laptop and on-line activities. – Social Media Presentation

For this assignment, I chose to explore a cite called Delicious.  It has been around for many years and, apparently, has changed ownership several times since its inception. Despite its ownership moves, many bloggers and internet users enjoy using the tool to organize all of their bookmarks and to share them with others in their network.

Front Page of Delicious 2015-07-11_22-06-36

If anyone would like the PowerPoint, please email me and I will share it with you on our class Google Drive.



My Flipped Classroom: Events Leading to the American Revolutionary War

Sprit_of_'76 aka Yankee Doodle

Spirit of 76. Oil by Archibald Willard. 1875.

This assignment was to create a podcast or video for a flipped classroom lesson.  My unit plan is for 6th grade social studies on the events of the Revolutionary War.

Since this unit builds upon United States history taught in 4th grade, I wanted to use this lesson as pre-assessment to determine what students remember and as an introduction to the unit.  I chose EDpuzzle because it seemed to be the easiest for me to quickly understand. This site also includes built-in video tutorials which I used as a guide while making this video lesson.

Once in EDpuzzle,  I explored using the existing videos that were already available in the program.  To do so, I typed in a subject search.  After reviewing about 12 videos, I thought this one was the most interesting and expressive.  I chose to write my own script and use my own voice.  In writing my script, I used vocabulary terms that aligns with the Virginia Social Studies standards. There was some verbage that I chose to keep but just to slightly modify.  I placed comments into the lesson where I would wanted students to know that we will learn more in the classroom.  I especially like that this program allows the user to easily set up a classroom and to share with others.  I also liked that photos and captions can be embedded into the presentation as well.  I believe this will be a program I will use extensively.

Click on the link below to go to the flipped lesson.  Users will need to log in as a student. The class code is  e1wo7q” target=”_blank”>

The video was taken from EDpuzzle and modified.


My Take: Digital Learning and the Effect on Learning in The Lives of Today’s Students

Digital Learning 2015-07-09_23-18-19

Digital Learning from SpeakUP

Okay, I have a confession.   I’ve spent a lot of my time trying to understand simple tools using WordPress.  Usually, I welcome a challenge, but it’s late, and I’m tired. Now, I’m an adult.  I know this is something I should enjoy doing, but the fun is somehow removed when page layout and little tools throw me.  My point will be explained further.

This brings me to this article on the national findings on the digital learning habits of K-12 students in the United States from Speak UP 2014.  It’s an impressive compilation of how students are using technology to enhance their learning experience in schools.  It surveyed urban, rural, and suburban schools and evaluated data input from over 400K students.  So first, my initial impression was to be fascinated with the data and the extensive research.  As a person who devoted a considerable amount of time shaping an acceptable distance learning program for my previous elementary school,  I am happy to see that it is finally getting the rightful credit it deserves as a useful learning tool (Of course, distance learning courses may vary with the institution in which it is taught, but generally, I like the idea).

Yet, there were a few findings that surprised me.  The first was that 29% of students in virtual schools send text messages to their teacher versus 15% in a traditional learning environment.  Students are texting their teachers?  I need to know more about this, because I’m not sure what to make of it.   The second surprise was that 50% of parents versus 36% of students feel that students should take an on-line course or virtual class prior to graduation from high school in preparation for college. Has anyone been to college recently?  As far as I know, professors are not teaching virtually — not for the prices the universities are charging.  is virtual learning a way for parents to try to reduce the price of college?  Maybe there are a few exceptions, but I would like to see a survey done on this for higher education (This class doesn’t count, in my opinion :)).

Also, I was not surprised at the lower percentage of girls versus boys expressing an interest in STEM education. There are a host of reasons that have been discussed since females started entering science and engineering.   Until our education system starts to treat girls and boys the same, we will always have a lower number.  Girls are conditioned from an early age to be less assertive and outspoken.  It takes a little confidence building to get girls to believe they have a seat at the table.  Parents also have to encourage their daughters to be interested in the sciences by creating an atmosphere at home for unconditional learning.

My final point is that I’m all for using technology, but I don’t want to see total virtual learning yet.  To my original point, just as I was flustered with the layout of this forum and the clicking to find what I need, there will be students, mostly elementary aged, who will become frustrated too. In the classroom, they can be helped at the onset, but away from school, dependent on the learning environment, it may be a challenge.  We will have to find a way to have it both ways.

Ken Robinson: How to escape education’s death valley — A must see!


Culture is an organic term. In the right conditions with the right nurturing, wonderful outcomes will emerge.  In the dry and seemingly barren Death Valley, an unusual amount of rain one winter produced a carpet of flowers.  It proved that there were dormant seeds always present and, under the right conditions, could sprout. The same is relatively true of the education system in the United States.  Ken Robinson argues, in his TED talks on education entitled “How to escape education’s death valley”, education is an organic culture that seems to have gone dormant with all of its systematic command and control structure, its lack of trust in school focused leadership, and its inability to capture the natural curiosity of children.  Robinson believes that with the right amount of high performing systems, a type of school rain, schools can awaken the natural curiosity of children to get desired results, low dropout rates, less boredom, and better engaged students.

The one thing that truly resonated with me and is something I argued with a colleague a few years ago in the hallway, was that the powers that be from up high in schools believe teaching is a business and that students are customers.  Ken Robinson phrased it by saying that many education policy developers believe school is an industrial process that can be fine tuned in order to get something right.  A good example is the need to now narrow the focus of education to just Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)  He argues that STEM without the humanities is not a complete education.  The idea being that you can test or fix something a little when something isn’t right, ignoring the fact that students are natural learners and that teachers should decide how to awaken the curiosity of their students using testing to support the learning process and not to drive it.

He brought up a great point, and it’s something I didn’t hear from other presenters I listened to — Sugata Mitra, Sal Khan, Dan Meyer.  He said that the American education system is trying to deprofessionalize teachers.  Other advanced societies invest in their teachers through professional developments and placing a high status to the profession. These societies recognize that education happens at the school level and teachers are the best to decide how to get the education done. These societies are achieving desired results.

Where have I been all of my life?  Surely I have one of this man’s books on my shelf! When and where is this man speaking next?  I want to go to give him a personal high five.

A Series of Fortunate Events

Did you ever wonder what the United States would be like had their never been a Revolutionary War?  As I contemplated this project, this thought came to mind, but the need to teach standards and integrate language arts drove the bulk of the project.  In 6th grade, students study the events and key individuals of the Revolutionary period that shaped the nation.

An important way to integrate the events of this time is, of course, to find novels that relate to that time.  During my student teaching, civil war novel groups of about 6 students each were formed. Students were allowed to choose from variety of great novels that had been pre-selected for its related content and appeal. With this in mind, I thought I would place a twist on the reading and responding portion of novel groups and give it a Harris Burdick inspired twist.

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick is a book that contains pictures that have no story, and often students are asked to choose a picture and write their own story to using the picture as a portion of their story.  There can be many possible outcomes with this type of challenge.   For example, one picture in Burdick book has a little boy skipping rocks. What if that boy was skipping rocks somewhere near Bunker Hill and wanted to tell the story of what happened?


A page from the book “The Mysteries of Harris Burdick”

For the purposes of this digital story, my idea was to take a novel that you liked or have read and apply it somehow to the story of the Revolutionary War.  I like the story of the Series of Unfortunate events and its title, so I thought this would make a good theme and to tell of the fortunate events that occurred and to include the important individuals who were influential at that time in shaping the groundwork for the nation.  I wanted to do this as a rap, but once I located music that I thought would fit for the time period, a rap just did not seem appropriate.  So, I decided to just say the words as a type of rhyme.  The music I selected free downloads from the United States military bands and a free site for flute music.

Click this link to my video which is posted in YouTube.   Be sure to look for embedded images that I created in Pixlr.


Cover for Video2015-06-23_11-10-56

henrynrwdSprit_of_'76 paul-revere-2


Here are some great resources:

Harris Burdick.