Friday, August 30, 2013

Perfectly Timed Photos and a bunch of cool maps

The 50 Most Perfectly Timed Photos Ever

40 DIFFERENT maps of the World (sent to me by my colleague Mr. Olson)

As we wrap up our first full week of school, I thought I would share a couple interesting pictures lists on this Friday. This could be something you could share with your students because not only are they interesting pictures, but thought provoking, especially the 40 different maps of the world. 

Have a great three day weekend. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Another Collaborative Writing Tool: is another online writing tool that allows its users to work collaboratively on a writing piece. Being a web tool, it is once again a cloud device because anywhere students can access the internet, they can get to their project. Simply go to, sign up for a free account, and start writing! The cool thing about widbook is that you do the writing on a canvas that looks like a book, not just a Word document. This may seem insignificant, but it could be just the thing it takes to motivate a student to write and show them, "yeah, you are writing a book." With widbook, you can add "co-authors" to work on the book as well, making it a great collaboration tool. When we go 1:1, widbook could be a cool piece to add to your curriculum to give kids an opportunity to work on a book throughout the school year and get them excited about writing. Widbook publishes the final product as an e-book which could be shared. 
Application for Education:  This could be a great option for kids looking to go above and beyond and take their learning further. Widbook is an example of a tool that we should make available for our students because it could be just the thing to spark their interest in writing and reading by giving them an opportunity to write their own book, a daunting task that can be manageable with widbook. Students could write a book about their main character and the adventures they go on throughout what they are learning in History class. A story about how government works, poems, fiction, sci-fi, etc. Perhaps you have been looking to write a book. Now you can! 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Glance at Students and Cell Phones

I polled my 6th grade students to collect some data on cell phone ownership. 77 out of 125 students have their own cell phone. 48 out of 125 have both email and cell phone. 34 out of 125 students do not have either a cell phone or an email. What does this data mean? It means that while not all students have cell phones, many do (62%) so we should be using that to our advantage. Remind101 is a great communication tool that we should be utilizing. I would be willing to bet that there is at least one cell phone in 100% of households in Brandon Valley School District. If not 100%, it's 99.9%.  We don't know if students will check their planner when they get home, but I can guarantee they will check their cell phone screen when they hear/feel that vibration. We know they are seeing the message! Remind101 allows you to text message your students. Text them what? Reminders, news, study tips, motivating quotes, announcements, key concepts, etc. So we have Remind101, but what else for cell phones? Soon, basic phones will be extinct and only Smart phones (droid, galaxy, iPhone) will exist. This day is not far away so we should start thinking about how to best utilize this in education. Record a lecture, upload it to YouTube and kids can watch it on their phone wherever they are. Use cell phones as quick response devices with allows your students to send a text message to a "canvas" and share ideas. Also, there are countless apps like socrative, nearpod, threering available to help with review, organization, researching, etc. At the moment, all this stuff is optional because not all students have cell phones. But begin talking and thinking about how they can be used. Cell phones are not going away, so lets embrace it and think about it and be smart about using them in the classroom. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Collaborative Writing Tool:

Writing is such a big deal. With, you can write and share it with colleagues or collaborators. Simply go to and sign up for a free account. Once in, you can create a new document and "share" it with anyone, which allows them to add/edit the document as well. Since you are the creator of the document, you must approve all changes to the document before they are put in place. You can share via link or email. You can create text documents or transcriptions (audio). 
Applications for Education: Writing using allows you to utilize a "cloud" writing tool. When students write in, they can share it with their partner and they can both work on it at home. Partner students up and have them work on a document together. This teaches good 21st century collaboration skills. Students can use to write a paper individually and turn it in via email. This allows them to always have their work with them, no forgetting a flash drive or losing their paper. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Make an Impact

You have it in you to make an impact. Whether it's your first year teaching or 30th year teaching, the ability to make an impact in a kids' life is there, inside you, waiting to be unleashed. Reach out and grab that opportunity. It's right there. It's yours. Take it.
Good Luck today on your first day of the school year. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Said No Teacher, Ever

Said No Teacher Ever from First Baptist Church Loganville on Vimeo.

With our last two days before the students arrive, I hope you are doing something fun. If you find yourself enjoying these last two days of summer at school working, then you might enjoy this video giving you a quick break from your intense work. Here are a few things that no teacher says, ever...

Friday, August 16, 2013

Teacher websites: spice them up or create a new one

At the beginning of the school year, you might be thinking about revamping your website or giving it a new look. I like to change my website's appearance a couple times a year. and are two sites I use to creator logos and fancy/cool text for my site. These two sites give you the option of many different styles and looks for creating words. They can be easily saved as images, then uploaded and placed where you want them on your site. Changing the look of your site every so often increases engagement and may bring kids back to your site who have quit using it. Using normal font, size 12, with no color makes it difficult to attract your students to the site. 

Teacher Websites
 If you are still using FrontPage to make your website, maybe you would like to think about going to a more dynamic website creator like blogger, weebly, or wix. Click the link to learn about some of these more in-depth and powerful website creator tools. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Something nobody else can do

With the school year about to begin, I have been thinking and reflecting a lot about our job as teachers and our place in this world. This summer I got to know a few surgeons at Sanford quite well. I was amazed at how awesome they are at their jobs. They do things that nobody else can do. The surgeries they perform, the medication they use, the methods they employ, it's all incredible. They save peoples lives. Watching them work and save my dad's life was very inspiring. It made me want to be a doctor because then I could save people's lives too. I could be there for the families at their scariest moments and make things be okay. There are some things that surgeons can do that nobody else can do. Is teaching that way? Anybody can read an article and come up with some questions for the kids to answer. Anybody can assign 30 pre-made math problems from a textbook. Anybody can use an answer key to correct multiple choice questions. So is teaching a job that anybody can do? I think the answer is most emphatically, No. Teaching is not a profession that just anybody can do. We do things that many people are unwilling or simply can't do.  Our job is to help our students in anyway we can. We may not save lives in the operating room, but we do save lives in our classroom.  We steer kids away from the hurt and misery path and point them in the direction of potential and opportunity. Not just anybody can do that. We build up a kid's confidence and give them self-worth. Not just anybody can do that. We help them get ready to live in this world. Not just anybody can do that. We relate to them and their problems and help them find solutions. Not just anybody can do that. We are professionals. We are professional kid helpers. If we think like this, as the school year begins, we will be able to change lives and save kids, perhaps more so than even the Sanford surgeons can do. 
Keep the student at the center of your focus in whatever you do this year. 
Good Luck.  

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Windows 8: A video helper

I came across this video while searching Windows 8 things and thought I would share in case it's something that could be beneficial to you. It's basic Windows 8 things, but since it's a new device for some, the basics is where we need to start.
 Coming Up: Windows 8: Apps for your classroom

Sunday, August 4, 2013

More Windows 8: Picture guide, Tiles, Charms, and Shortcuts

I hope you have all been working with your Windows 8 tablet and doing some exploring on your own. The link above will show you some screenshots of common windows 8 things.
 Like with students, I think we should get some "guiding questions" about our Windows 8 device and then try to figure it out on our own. If we are unable, then the "teacher" can step in and offer guidance. How do you work with Tiles? What are Charms? What are some helpful keyboard short-cuts? Tackle these questions with the intensity you would want your students to explore something. If you get stuck, check out the help below. 
Working With "Tiles"
Tiles are the squares on the "windows" menu. You can add tiles and remove tiles. You can resize tiles, move tiles, group tiles, name groups of tiles, etc. I found a great video that shows how you can work with tiles. WATCH VIDEO NOW.

"Pinning" tiles to Windows Screen
The Windows screen is your "home base." It's the screen you see first. To customize this screen to your likely, Windows 8 made it possible to add/remove tiles. To do this, hit the windows key + Q. This will pull up all available apps for you to work with. Find the app/program you want and right click. A list of options will pop up on the bottom. Click "pin to start" to add it to your windows screen. If you want to remove a tile from the windows screen, right click and select "remove pin from start." Give it a try!

Keyboard Short Cuts
Keyboard short cuts can help you move faster around the Windows screen. Here is a list of some of the more helpful keyboard short cuts.
CTR + (+) or (-):  This will zoom in and our of  the Windows Screen.
Windows key + C: this will open the Charms (the list of options on the right side of the screen)
Windows key + F: search for files
Windows key + Q: searches apps
Windows key + I: opens the settings charm
Windows key + K: opens the devices charm
Windows key + O: locks orientation (portrait or landscape)
Windows + Tab: cycle through open apps (not the desktop apps)
At Windows screen, FN + Ctrl: opens bottom charms/options

Coming Up: Skydrive, more shortcuts, screenshots, and activities. If there's something you want to be explain, explored, or just don't get, let me know. I would be glad to help. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Windows 8 Tablets are here!

The Windows 8 tablets have arrived for teachers 6-12 in Brandon Valley School District. Windows 8 might be a new experience for some of you, so I thought I would share some Windows 8 tips and tricks to get your started. Since Windows 8 is the device BV chose, I will be covering it a lot more in-depth in the coming weeks as school nears, but as I relax in the Black Hills, I felt moved to share some quick tips now that would help us get going with our device.
 Windows Screen 
The windows screen is the main screen that you will use to go to various places. It has all your apps and programs. Whenever an app is downloaded, it pops up on the windows screen. Simply swipe left to right or right to left to scroll through all your windows apps/programs. Downloading Apps To download apps and add them to your windows screen, touch or click on "store" to search for apps you may need or want.
Enabling/Disabling Touchpad
One frustration that I have experienced so far with the Windows 8 tablet is with typing. When typing, my right thumb hovers too closely to the touch pad so during my typing, the mouse jumps away from where I'm currently typing, and I begin typing in the middle of a previous sentence. This is annoying. To prevent this, simply push FN+F5. Pushing these two buttons at the same time toggles the touchpad off and on. When the touch pad is disabled, it won't work so the mouse won't jump all over when trying to type. Simply turn the touch pad back on by hitting FN+f5 again.
The Windows 8 tablet is unique because it has a keyboard and it's a touch screen. It's a cool combination. It's important to understand the "swiping" of the screen. To access options, put your finger on the "black" edge of the right side of the tablet screen and swipe to the left (going from the black to the screen). This will allow options to pop up that you might need to use, specifically the "windows" button which brings you back to the windows screen. You can also access the windows screen by pushing the windows button on the keyboard. It's 4 squares. Swiping from the bottom of the tablet up, essentially going from the bottom black area up into the screen also provides other options in various apps and programs. Swiping from the left edge black into the screen allows you to go back to the apps/program you were just using. When looking at the windows screen, you can "pinch" your fingers together while touching the screen to zoom out and see all of your apps. This will be helpful once your tablet gets many, many apps.
The camera is located on the windows screen and can by accessed by clicking it or touching it. To take pictures with the tablet connected to the keyboard, press the space bar. To take pictures with the tablet disconnected from the keyboard, simply push the screen.

Coming Up
This is just a start. In the next Windows 8 post, I will discuss Skydrive, disconnecting the screen, understanding the Windows screen more
and start talking about activities you can do with your students. My biggest suggestion would be to just start touching the screen and trying out all the options/features. This is the best way to learn because you are discovering it yourself, not just being told. Kinda like what we want our students to do...