Virtual Book Clubs to Join this Summer!

#sschat Book Club: The Book of Learning and Forgetting  

The #sschat book chat will begin on Mondays immediately following #sschat (8pm EST) using the hashtagbooks #ssbook. Please feel free to add questions or ideas to this document. Dan Krutka  will lead the chats, but the chat will be open enough to address concerns, questions, and ideas of others participants. Please “insert” “comments” on the side of this document under the correct week.

  • Week 1: Monday, June 24th at 8pm EST —Reading 1: Sections 1 and 2 (pp. vii-39)    Key Topics: Introduction to two visions of education, the classic view of learning and forgetting
  • Week 2: Monday, July 1st at 8pm EST—–Reading 2: Sections 3 and 4 (pp. 41-102) Key Topics: The official view of learning and forgetting, repairing the damage

Book Club: Mindset 

Two years ago Justin Staub first read Carol Dweck’s MindsetEvery summer I re-read her work and consider how it will change my professional practice. Because of my growing connectedness and sharing via Twitter, he has been asked to lead a Mindsetmindset book study this summer. So, here are the details he has worked out so far. Please add comments to this post or to the Schoology group if you want to adapt how we run our book study.

Who: Justin Staub will moderate most book study sessions. He has no specific experience except having taught in a growth mindset school for two years and putting Dweck’s ideas into practice. He is privileged to work with colleagues who have all read the book and embody the growth mindset.

What: Twitter chats (#mindset13) and reflective discussion posts via Schoology. Create a free account and join our group discussion page.

When: June 24 – August 12 2013 with weekly Twitter chats on Mondays at 3PM EDT.

Where: On Twitter, using the hashtag #mindset13. Also, collected reflections will be posted on an open Schoology group. Please create a free account and join us there.

See you during our Chapter 1 discussion on Monday, June 24, at 3PM EDT! For more information visit his blog post


#TLAP Book Club: Teach Like a Pirate 

Welcome to the Teach Like a Pirate online book club taking place throughout the summer of 2013!  You can buy the book here. The goal of this book club will be to discuss the ideas from the book as a global community, collecting ideas from 7197369other educators, and having conversations about their applications in education. We will do this on Twitter, using the hashtag #tlap, and we will meet every Monday evening at 8:00 CST for one hour.  Since this hashtag already has a large following, the discussions are sure to be lively and include many people from around the world! For  more information visit the blog post

Weekly Readings (Tentative Schedule):

  • June 17, 2013: “Part 1: Passion & Immersion”: Introduction – page 18
  • June 24, 2013: “Part 1: Rapport & Ask and Analyze”: pages 19-54
  • July 1, 2013: “Part 1: Transformation & Enthusiasm”: pages 55-71
  • July 8, 2013: “Part 2: Crafting Engaging Lessons (Part 1 of 2)”: pages 75-106
  • July 15, 2013: “Part 2: Crafting Engaging Lessons (Part 2 of 2)”: pages 107-141
  • July 22, 2013: “Part 3: Building a Better Pirate”: pages 145-176
  • Discussions will continue after July 22nd, but the questions will not be focused on specific pages in the book.


5 Ways for Teachers to Integrate Technology in the Classroom

It is becoming all too apparent that kids who fail to learn about technology will be left behind when it comes to advancing in school and in the job market one day, as well. Not only have devices changed the way we socialize as a culture and carry out interpersonal relationships, but the rapid advancement of hardware and programming, especially in the online and mobile arenas, have led to a massive overhaul of the way business is conducted. Good luck finding a companyClassroom-Technology these days that isn’t connected 24/7 thanks to the internet and smartphones. The point is that it’s imperative for kids to become familiar with the devices and software that will dominate their lives, both personal and professional. And schools need to get on board with integrating the technologies that will help to prepare children for the future. Of course, most public schools don’t have a ton of money to spend on pricy equipment. So teachers may have to get creative when it comes to integrating technology in the classroom. Here are just a few options.

  1. Podcasts. Even teachers that don’t have a lot of extra cash devoted to their classroom may be able to finagle a decent computer or a single tablet out of the budget, or they can simply bring a personal device to class in order to use it as a teaching aid. And one of the best resources out there for lesson enhancement is podcasts. These targeted “radio” shows cover a vast array of topics and often include speakers that are experts in their field. As a bonus, many are free to download, making for an interesting addition to any classroom that won’t cost a dime.
  2. Online instructional videos. Any classroom with a large monitor or video projector can benefit from the bounty of video content to be found online. Teachers may peruse YouTube in search of videos that assist them in teaching myriad lessons on subjects like science, history, language, and more. It’s an especially good resource for current events. But there are also plenty of websites devoted to delivering instructional or otherwise academic videos. Khan Academy and Ted Talks are two fantastic resources for teachers.
  3. Cell phones. Most schools are banning the use of cell phones in their halls, but the teacher that finds a way to integrate these handy devices will win the hearts of students. At the high school level, many students have cell phones of their own, and teachers can use this to their advantage by having their pupils register their numbers with the school so that the teaching staff can send out assignments by text, for example. Or they might set up a classroom Facebook page and allow students to post questions and comments during lessons that the teacher will address at the end of the lecture. This allows students to use their technology in a creative and educational way.
  4. Tablets. The go-to device for classrooms these days is the tablet. And although it can be a hard road trying to get administrators to approve the budget needed to outfit a classroom with enough tablets for each student, the benefits are well worth the effort. There are so many ways that students can use these handheld gadgets; to develop motor skills and hand-eye coordination, to connect with other students and even other classrooms, and to interact with a slew of programs that provide just one more avenue for learning. The only real downside is the cost.
  5. Edmodo. Let’s not forget about the programs that make many modern devices worthwhile. There are so many apps out there for computers and mobile devices that you have your pick of the litter when it comes to software designed to enhance your classroom. But Edmodo is one of the best programs out there for teachers. It acts as a safe hub for students and teachers to connect in mobile space, providing tools that allow for interaction both in and out of the classroom setting. Teachers can also connect to each other to share insights and even lessons. And they can personalize lessons, track student progress, and even hand out badges and grades. It doesn’t take an online emba to see that the sky is the limit with hardware and software that practically begs for classroom integration.

Guest Post: Leon Harris is a freelance writer and editor based in sunny Southern California. In his spare time, Harris enjoys living a healthy lifestyle and exercising with his two Golden Retrievers.

5 Ways for Teachers to Make Learning More Interactive

One of the biggest challenges that many teachers face is trying to get students to participate, and it’s a problem that seems to grow as students get older and become more concerned about the judgment of their peers. Of course, there will always be a select few students that raise their hands for every question and delight in answering correctly. But the goal within any classroom setting is to ensure that all of the kids are engaged and that each one is receiving a solid Attentive-Classeducation. This is no easy feat these days, especially with limited resources and growing class sizes. But when teachers can find ways to make lessons interactive, then students have no choice but to play their role, enhancing the educational experience not only for themselves, but for the entire class. So here are just a few ideas that should help to get every student involved in the learning process.

  1. Cut back on lectures. Whenever you lecture a class full of students and allow them to sit by passively, taking notes, you are doing them a disservice. Although there are certainly occasions where you have to deliver a passel of data, consider how much of what you’re telling them may be garnered from reading or online research that you could give as homework. This should help you to temper your rote data dumps in the classroom setting and instead focus on interactive lessons designed to see if the kids are actually doing their reading assignments. Only by talking with them, instead of at them, can you figure out what they’re actually taking in.
  2. Test understanding rather than memorization. Nearly every child can memorize and regurgitate facts on command. This is the basic tenet of standardized testing. But as an involved educator you want to make sure that the kids in your classroom are learning not only how to absorb information, but how to put it to good use. In other words, you’re training them to think for themselves. So when you quiz your students in class, try to come up with questions that force them to think about what they have learned, approach it from different angles, and come up with a unique response. The brain is a muscle and we have to use it in order to make it strong.
  3. Put students in groups. If you question students one at a time you’re forcing the rest of the class to remain idle in the meantime. By creating small groups you can pose questions or problems for the entire class and allow the groups to discuss and answer them as a unit. This not only allows each student to interact with every question, but it also lets the students learn from and teach each other, potentially helping to solidify their own understanding of the materials covered.
  4. Electronic response system. Technology has allowed for a slew of new ways to make the classroom interactive, and one method that many teachers favor is the electronic response system. It’s a quick way to take a “vote” from the class and see how students are stacking up. For example, you can ask a question, offer three possible responses, and immediately see the percentage of students who got it right, helping you to determine where you should focus your teaching efforts. You might also use this gadget as a way to engineer lively debates on topics covered in class by taking polls of student opinions on a subject.
  5. Unorthodox seating. The way a classroom is laid out can definitely have an impact on the level of interactivity. For example, in a class that requires a lot of discussion, you might consider forming the desks into a large circle so that all of the students can see whoever is speaking. This face-to-face configuration encourages interaction and turns a discussion between teacher and students into an interactive experience that includes the entire class. Of course, there are certain settings where this strategy won’t work, like in a lecture hall with immovable seating or a program for a master of science in accounting online. But the creative teacher can find ways to make any setting more interactive.


Guest Post: Leon Harris is a freelance writer and editor based in sunny Southern California. In his spare time, Harris enjoys living a healthy lifestyle and exercising with his two Golden Retrievers. 


Simplify your iPad with CloudOn

I recently discovered CloudOn from a colleague at work. CloudOn brings Microsoft Office to your iPhone and iPad. With Cloud on you can create and edit files in Word, Excel, and Powerpoint on your iPhone or iPad. You can Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 10.06.09 PMmanage documents with your Dropbox, Box, Google Drive and SkyDrive accounts. You can track changes and set notifications while editing the document.


CloudOn also automatically saves documents so you will never lose your work.  The application is a direct and wireless link between your desktop and your ipad, which will allow you to work without any issue.  CloudOn is completely free, so you have nothing to lose by trying it out. Click here to download it for the iPad.






Part 7: Evernote Food


In this seventh installment of my Evernote for the Social Studies blog posts, we will take a look at Evernote Food – a fun and interesting app to capture, cataloged, and learn about recipes and all types of food.

What is Evernote Food?

Evernote Food (available for IOS and Android) allows you to build your own collection of recipes, take snap-shots and notes of meals, and search for restaurants in your area.  While some schools have restrictions on bringing food into the classroom, it may not be possible to have a “food day” to learn about what foods come from different continents and cultures.  From the teacher’s perspective, it would be just as simple to get some pictures of different meals that are enjoyed across the globe and present a Powerpoint presentation over it.  This, however, leads to little or no engagement.

Learning and Engaging with Evernote Food

When I was student teaching, I had a wide variety of students from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds.  Some came dressed every day to class with traditional clothing and was pleased to share some activities they do in their culture.  Even though we may not realize it sometimes, the best source of information is not always the internet – it is our own students in our classrooms!  With Evernote Food, students can now share what meals they have that are specific with their culture.

Evernote Food Home Page

Accessing the Evernote Food app from their IOS or Android device, students can explore recipes, create their own cookbook of their own recipes or recipes that they have clipped, explore restaurants, and access their “my meals” section where they have saved images and information on meals they have previously eaten.

With Evernote Food, students engage in the learning process by doing their own research and sharing what they have found.  Going back to the idea of having students capture their own meals that may offer a look into different cultures, Evernote Food makes that process quick and simple.


When you create a “new meal” in Evernote Food, it provides this easy to use template.  You can choose to create a meal title, select the place which it was taken, type of cuisine, and create a tag for better organization in your Evernote account.  You can also input notes and snap shots regarding the meal into the same template.  This would work extremely well if it is shared in class or if the student shares it on the class website or blog – the explanation is already done in the template itself so students can begin reading about it as soon as they see it.

The great part about this is that you can also choose to share this meal information by coping the URL to it and sharing it that way, or you can share by posting to Facebook, Twitter, or Google +.  The unique URL would work especially nice because you could have your students copy the URL to their meal and submitting it to a designed Google Form or blog post.  And of course, once the student shares the meal either on a social media network or by simple URL, other students and teachers can save that information into their own Evernote account.

As a side note, once you have created the new meal, it automatically saves it into your default folder in your Evernote account.

Here’s an example of what a finished meal template looks like:

evernotefood 1


Evernote Food provides many ways students can interact and engage in learning that they may not have given much thought to before.  The main reason to use any technology like this is for the students to engage with what they are learning and with each other.  Students must be able to share what they have learned with their fellow classmates and teachers.  With Evernote Food, if you ever decide to have your students do projects over certain cultures or countries, let them go out and experience it and capture whatever it is that they are doing.  Whether it be traditional meals, dances or songs, students need to capture that moment and share among their peers.

If you would like more information about Evernote or Skitch, please visit my Livebinder, Evernote for Educators:

The Future of Video Calling Technology in the Classroom

Video calling technology has undergone an enormous evolutionary process during the last decade (or slightly more) of overall accelerations in technological innovations. This is not just a minor fringe technology anymore and it is no longer something that you as a teacher or educator should think of as simply being for international corporate meetings and friends talking to each other across oceans.

Video Conference in School

The reality is in fact quite the opposite; video calling technology is not only more ubiquitous than ever, it’s also more applicable to your potential classroom needs than you might imagine. Not only could you find a way of using video as an excellent long distance education tool, you might even be able to get creative and make it into something that can completely reshape your classroom or how you interact with your students. Furthermore, by doing this, you will be participating in a long term trend whose future will only make video more ingrained into the daily fabric of education.


Let’s cover a few useful tips and facts that can lead you in the right direction.


Video Conferencing Options

As an educator, teacher or education administrator, you have a very wide plethora of commercial product options available when it comes to video calling and conferencing. These can range in scope from the most basic (and limited) applications such as Skype or Apple FaceTime, both of which are essentially free to use in a limited conferencing or person to person calling setup; or they can include very complex teleconferencing platforms that come with hardware and dedicated communications lines. Companies such as Intercall, Cisco and Microsoft all offer products such as these at varying costs.


Knowing which video calling system to choose for your class needs will depend a lot on exactly how you want to use it, your education technology budget (in the hundreds, thousands or millions of dollars) and of course how many students you want to incorporate into your video calling system.


These are issues that you need to decide for yourself after some careful research and reference checking; it might also be a good idea to search for examples of other schools that have successfully implemented whatever video conferencing setup you yourself are hoping to try with your group of students and other teachers.


Also, bear in mind that whatever may seem expensive today will only become less costly as time goes on; less costly and also of higher quality thanks to the constant innovations we’re seeing in web connectivity, broadband transmission power and video presentation technology making possible extraordinarily sharp clarity over ever smaller, thinner screens.


Some Video Calling Possibilities for Today and the Near Tomorrow

The number of possible uses for video calling can be extremely varied, and in some cases the technology itself can be used without actually even requiring live, in-person calls to occur, instead being integrated as part of a larger education presentation that relies on recordings of already filmed video. Here are some potential uses to ponder:


Geographically Separated Interconnected Video Classrooms

Quite a mouthful, but it represents a powerful idea: if you’re offering lectures and learning materials to students in a relatively small classroom –or even a big one but your classes are very popular—and want to make sure that other students can have access to what you need to teach regardless of whether they have the time or money to be there in person, then video calling will solve your dilemma.


If you’re working with a higher budget, you can arrange to have remote video presentation screens set up in classroom on the other side of the world or as close as in a different campus building, screens with a direct web based feed to your live lecture or class.

Working on a smaller scale, you can offer the same thing via internet connection from a web page that feeds into your video lecture and presents it at a specific URL which anyone from outside your class can access.


Best of all, thanks to cloud storage and chat technology, you can also take things a step further by giving all viewers a chance to field questions your way as you talk or making yourself able to hand out notes and papers in digital form, not only to in-class students, but also to viewers who happen to be anywhere else. This can be done simply by giving them all a general cloud storage download link where you place files in real time and they then withdraw them under the same circumstances.


Tutoring and Tele-assistance

Beyond the class setting itself, video calling gives you an excellent tool for student assistance without the need to wait for arrivals at your actual office. By simply setting up an online video calling account, whether it be arranged through a free service like Skype or a more sophisticated service such as Intercall, you can then give your students a unique ID or URL identifier by which they can find you either through their browsers or by downloading the same video calling program you use and searching for you.


Through this technology, you can then give out certain after-class times when you’ll be connected and available for video questions about any class subject. It may seem a bit clumsy to implement at first, but remember, the technology is improving constantly and assuming everyone possesses access to a decent web connection, suing video for class lectures and after-class tutoring will have a strong appeal to many students or even education staff.


About the author: Stephan Jukic is a freelance writer who generally covers a variety of subjects relating to the latest changes in white hat SEO, mobile technology, marketing tech and digital security. He has been a writer covering video technology for Intercall for several years. He also loves to read and write about location-free business, portable business management and finance. When not busy writing or consulting on technology and digital security, he spends his days enjoying life’s adventures either in Canada or Mexico, where he spends part of the year. Connect with Stephan on LinkedIn.