First Presidential Ad of 2012 – Courage to Stand

Wow this is one of the most moving political advertisement’s I have seen in a very long time. This is a political ad for the 2012 presidential race – in this case – by Tim Pawlenty who used to be the governor of Minnesota. It goes with his book, Courage to Stand. Even though he will not will the Republican nomination he sure makes a good video that hits every American Ideal and value.

It hits us with every American value. I plan to use this in the classroom when I talk about American values. I may have them try to guess what American values they “see” in this presidential advertisement.

Revolutionize Grading

I have been trying to incorporate technology as much as I can into  my teaching. I goggled for an online testing program. I discovered a  program called Quizstar 4 Teachers for FREE. 🙂 This wonderful program allows kids to take tests (multiple choice, true false, and short answer) paperless and on the computer. All that is needed is a computer and the internet.

I can’t tell you how nice it was for my students (and myself) to know their grades the second they hit “submit” on their final exam. They were relived (okay most of them) to get their grades right away.

This new form of test taking will REVOLUTIONIZE the classroom and help teachers focus more time on their students and less time on grading (worst part of the job).

It’s time to put the scan-tron machines away, back away from the pencils,  and get into the digital age.

Organization–> even on a cart

Organization is a must have in education. I see students everyday who are disorganized. Unfortunately, I am a traveling teacher; which means I travel every period of the day (5 periods) to different classrooms. I consider myself a highly organized person (possibility due to my mother).  These are a few tricks of the trade that I learned teaching and most of all helpful when traveling.

1.”I don’t have a pencil”

Problem: Students don’t bring pencils or pens and it is so frustrating. I lent out pencils and pens that NEVER got returned.

Solution: I tied a pen to a clipboard.

Reasoning: That way students can not walk off with the pen without me noticing my bright orange and green clipboard. Another latent function of the clipboard is that it is so awkward and bright that they are embarrassed and usually bring a pencil or pen the next day.

2. “I lost the handout. You know the one with the _____ topic on top.

Problem: Handouts can pile up and become a mess in students lockers, cubicles, trapper-keepers, and backpacks.

Solution: Help them and yourself with a helpful unit numbering system. Everyone of my units starts with a number 1-10. Each handout is also assigned a number 1-25. Each and every handout I give out has the unit dash handout number. For example Unit 1 and handout 4 is 1-4.

Reasoning: This system is so beneficial in that many teachers  have started to adopt my system. I do notebook checks with the handouts to make sure they are organized. After each unit, I have my students put them into a folder so they are at no time carrying/packing more than 25 handouts. Usually a unit is less than 10. Another latent affect of this handout numbering system it helps ME with storage and reference. I often say take out 1-4 or homework is 1-4. I also have a file system in a cabinet where students can go and get a number they missed (from the current unit). I know this system is genius.

3. “I turned my handout in…. you must have lost it”

Problem: Students claim they turned in work and it “disappears.”

Solution: I have 1 turn in bin for my whole day located on the top of my cart…. After each period I take the handouts from the bin and put them into a specific folder for each period. One side of the folder is for work that needs to be graded and the other side is graded school work.

Reasoning: This system keeps me organized. Helps me monitor late work and it allows me to focus on teaching and not searching for papers.

Dropbox is wonderful!

Five reasons I started to use Dropbox for storage at school!

  1. Worry Free Backup.  Because Dropbox is continually running on my computer, I know that any files that I save into it are instantly backed up securely to Dropbox’s servers.  If my hard drive were to crash today, I would be able to easily retrieve my files, even those I worked on this morning.
  2. Restoring Previous Versions.  Anything in the Dropbox folder can be restored to a previous version, even if you deleted the file.  While I don’t use this feature very often, the times that I have used it have saved hours of rework.
  3. Public File Sharing. Whenever I have to send a large attachment in an email, instead of worrying if the receiver’s email server will reject it due to attachment size (some do), I upload the file to Dropbox and use the built-in public link tool to simply send a link to the recipient, where they can download the file at their convenience.  This has also been nice when I want to share photos with people after an event.
  4. Collaborating with Others.  When working with another teacher, it helps to have access to the same files, so we can share a folder just between us via Dropbox.  You can create a permanent folder with other teachers in your department.  This also is useful between family members, as I can just drop a file into the folder that I share with my husband.
  5. Instant Mobile Viewing. There is a lot a mobile device can do, and storing a massive amount of files is not one of them.  I can store all of my documents within Dropbox, and whenever I need to view them on the go, I can use the Dropbox App to download them only when I need to view them. You can also instantly take a file and share it with a student.

Check our Dropbox today!

What is Edmodo?

My resolution for the new year was to research and USE a internet platform in the classroom that has many different uses within and outside of my classroom. I was looking for a program that allows my students to blog, post comments, upload assignments, email, and a download useful handouts. The technology coordinator within my district suggested to try the website Edmodo.

What is it? Edmodo is a free, secure, social learning platform for teachers, students, schools and districts.

Application in the Classroom: Edmodo provides teachers and students with a secure and easy way to post classroom materials, share links and videos, and access homework, grades and school notices.  Teachers and students can store and share all forms of digital content – blogs, links, pictures, video, documents, presentations, and more.

I found this site to be very useful and practical to use. It is very similar to Facebook, which will be an easy tool for students to learn. It took some playing on my part, as the teacher, but I am so excited to start the new marking period off with this exciting technology.

For more information Visit: Edmodo or Live Demo of Edmodo in the Classroom


I was searching for some good ice breakers to mix up the first week of school for the next semester. I stumbled upon this great website called Ice breakers, Fun Activities, and Group Activities.This site has more than 25 icebreakers and group activities with instructions. These games seem like a great idea for get to know you activities or team building in the classroom. I plan on using “Who done it” on my first day of the new marking period.

Try them and let me know how they work out for you!

“Doing History”

As I am preparing for the end of the semester, I can’t not help but think about how much of a challenge and joy it will be to teach a new group of students to enjoy history. All too often history teachers rely on textbooks, test scores, maps, and routine memorization to teach history.When students are not engaged they become bored and passive in the classroom.

I think it is more important to teach our students to think critically and reflect about the past. We want our students to analyze social institutions, ask who benefits, who suffers, and how our country got this way. My last project of the semester was the final realization when I stepped back and realized my students were asking other students critical questions about our recent president’s. No standardized test scores or multiple choice questions could measure that amount of interest and intrinsic motivation for learning.

To get students motivated and keep their interest, I design student centered lessons that are engaging and reflective. On my end of the semester evaluation, many (if not most) of my students reflected their favorite lessons were not the ones where they were learning history but the lessons where they were “doing history.” Project based learning has so many benefits and is often undervalued in education.

For more information: Here is some more information about project based learning: Seymour Papert, a distinguished professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is among a growing group of scholars who support project-based learning. Read a short introductory article or watch a brief introductory video.

Video from Project-Based Learning: An Overview

Embrace Technology

The first semester is winding down and I would like to create an interesting and engaging lesson to integrate technology into the first week of school. I found a video called a A vision of students today. This is a video organized by Professor Wesch from the Digital Ethnography at Kansas State University.

My first glace at this video made me reflect on my own teaching and how the teaching profession is not the same as when I went to school. Our students are immersed in technology and we as teachers need to use the “beast” to our advantage. All too often teachers fall stray to reading and teaching from the textbook and the chalk board. We as teachers need to embrace technology and find creative ways to bring it into the classroom. I have been following a few blogs that have been soo helpful in creating and advancing my own career (listed below).

1. Free Technology for Teachers (my life line to technology the past year).

2. Technology Tidbits

3. Teachpaperless (creative ideas and interesting ways to help the environment; all while being a creative and engaging teacher)

I plan on using a A vision of students today in my classroom on the second day of school. I am going to use this video as an activator to start the idea of how students learn and ways to use successfully use technology within the classroom. I am going to create a google doc form and have all my students reflect and discuss ways we can make our classroom, our school. and our society integrated with technology.

My hope is through a few technology programs like Edmodo, Google Docs, Wiki’s and Blogs I can engage my students to see the value of technology beyond facebook, twitter, and youtube.

What’s Next for America?

Great video organized by CBS where they ask What’s Next in 2011? It asks a lot of great questions like what’s next for America? Are we no longer the dominant world power? Will America’s future be brighter?

Application to Education: I used this video in my class to introduce the idea of the American Dream and the idea of public policy with my Advanced Placement Class. It was an interesting conversation starter especially since the current recession has impacted so many of our families.