Educator Series at The Henry Ford

This past summer I attended a WONDERFUL workshop at The Henry Ford organized and funded through the National Endowment for the Humanities Grant. The Henry Ford is a wonderful place filled with history, excitement, and real hands-on learning experiences. Check it out today! 

The Henry Ford offers numerous workshops for teachers with the idea to “Learn, Share, co-design, and get rejuvenated and energized to teach!” The Henry Ford truly values teachers as partners in the learning process and provides FREE online resources, interactive lessons, and a plethora of on-site materials. Check out the education page today.

Here are some upcoming workshops:

  • Transportation in America January 20, 2012
 The Auto Industry: A Case Study in American Industrialism 
Keynote- Charles Hyde, Professor Emeritus, Wayne state University
Curator: Bob Casey, John and Horace Dodge Curator of Transportation at  The Henry Ford
  • American Democracy and Civil Rights February 10, 2012
 Leadership in American Democracy
Keynote- Kidada Williams, Assistant Professor, Wayne State  University 
Curator: Donna Braden, Curator, Public Life and Lead Experience Developer
  • Science & Technology March 2, 2012
Evolution of Science and Technology 
Keynote- R. Charles Dershimer, Clinical Assistant Professor, Michigan State University
Curator: Suzanne Fischer, Associate Curator of Technology at The Henry Ford
  • American Innovation Innovation April 13, 2012
American Innovation & 21st  Century Skills 
Keynote- David Pensak, Author, Entrepreneur
Curator: Marc Greuther, Chief Curator, Curator of Industry and Design at The Henry Ford
  • Family and Community Life May 4, 2012
 Changing Roles, Homes and Communities
Keynote: Liette Gidlow, Professor, Wayne State University 
Curator:  Jeanine Head Miller, Curator of Domestic Life at The Henry Ford
  • America’s Industrial Revolution May 11, 2012
 America’s Industrial Revolution: Then and Now
Keynote: Daniel Clark, Associate Professor, Oakland University 
Curator: Marc Greuther, Chief Curator, Curator of Industry and Design at The Henry Ford
 To register, contact our Call Center                           To register, contact our Call Center at 313.982.600 at 313.982.6001


For more information contact The Henry Ford

Dragonbox- The Math Game

DragonBox is a game designed for children to learn and solve algebraic equations. Students truly learn while having fun. Players go through different worlds as they go one level up and see their dragons grow. The game’s creator, Jean-Baptiste Huynh from Norway, was a teacher who got tired of the frustrating method used to teach maths in school. He wanted his children to learn algebra in a meaning way. Using tablets such as the iPad he created an app that encourages students or children to learn math by playing a game. Christopher Wanko said his “eight year old son immediately sat down and ran through the first two banks of problems without hesitation. It was amazing.”




Top 10 Tech Ideas to Try in your Classroom

1.  Edmodo � This microblogging site was created specifically for teachers and students. Edmodo can be used to share notes, files, assignments, grades, and events. 

2. Google Applications � This free web based suite of tools from Google gives classrooms the ability to collaborate and share assignments online. The suite includes a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation tool.

  • For more information click here
  • Here is a google form I made to monitor student and parent communication and here is a rubric I made using google applications.

3. Quizlet � Quizlet is a free flashcard creation site that can be used to study, create, and share flashcards. Teachers can create their own flashcards for students or use pre-submitted cards.

  • For more information click here and here

4. Wunderlist � Wunderlist makes it downright simple to organize your daily life. Just create a list and start filling it with things that need to be completed. Keep track of your more important tasks with reminders and notifications. It even syncs. For more information click here

5. � Celly creates mini social networks called cells that connect you with people and topics that matter most to you. A cell can contain anybody with a cellphone, people from your existing social networks, or any web feed.

6. QR (Quick response) Code is a barcode that can be scanned from any mobile device or computer. The code takes you to a specific website, content information, or more information about a particular concept.

7. Animoto �  Animoto is designed to bridge the gap between the high production value of film and television, and the more “amateur” feeling of most user-created videos and photo albums.

Socrative is a smart student response system that empowers teachers by engaging their classrooms with a series of educational exercises and games. Our apps are super simple and take seconds to login. Socrative runs on tablets, smartphones, and laptops.

  • For more information here

9. Grade Chart is a simple grading tool for teachers and professors. Enter in the number of questions for the assignment you’re grading, and this will generate a quick reference chart to help you determine the grade percentage and letter grade for all possible numbers of missed questions.

  • For more information click here

10 Dropbox � is a free service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily. Never email yourself a file again.

  • For more information click here

Lessons on American Presidents

In designing a lesson on the recent American presidents, I discovered Lessons on American Presidents website. The website is organized and developed by Sean Banville, which was adapted from The White House website. The Lessons on American Presidents website has an easy to read article on each U.S. president as well as downloadable lesson ideas.  Check it out today!


Fill in Any PDF

I am in the process of filling out over a dozen teaching applications because I am relocating to New York. Most of the teaching applications are a PDF file. Instead of printing the applications and handwriting them, I am using a website called Fill Any PDF Form.

Any user can electronically fill out, sign, and email the form. No software downloads are needed and any PDF file can be used.  The PDF can also be filled out by mutiple people without the need to download, print, scan, or fax. to be a valuable time-saving resource. Check it out today!



Record with QuickVoice

QuickVoice is a useful recording application that is easy to implement into your daily life.  You can record new ideas, voice memos, shopping lists  meetings, classes, interviews, teacher evaluation, or even an entire class period. This can be used in the professional, educational, and/or personal setting. It could even help students with studying such as recording useful information for a test or a classroom lecture.

QuickVoice can be used in multiple capacities in the classroom or in your own daily lives. This application is easy to use and implement.  According to QuickVoice it is “the most popular, full-featured iPhone/iPad/iPod voice recorder available.” Check it out today!

Highlight and Share Websites with

When I bring my students to the library, they print countless articles that waster not only paper but also their time. In a truly digital world students should be able to save the articles in the cloud and then highlight/annotate directly on the file.

Thanks to Richard Bryne’s blog Free Technology for Teachers I learned about will allow any user to highlight and then share the highlighted article. First you need to install a browser extension, then simply click on the icon to highlight any text on a website. 

Annotating articles or webpages can highlight any important information and help students to better comprehend new materials. Another benefit to using is that once you highlight an article you can share the page, which can beneficial on group assignments. Check out today!

5 Ways Engage Students

Thanks to Michelle Doman, a guest blogger at the Simple K-12 blog, I learned about a few interesting ways to “wake” students up in class. I like the ideas to increase engagement and excitement related to a lesson. Thanks Michelle. I can’t wait to try them in 2012!

Here are a few ideas I would like to try:

1. When responding to a writing prompt, have the students drop their pencils on the ground when they have completed the task. You won’t believe how MANY giggles and guilty looks you will get. classroom management

2. Play a sound clip of the Mission Impossible theme, have them act as 007 until the music stops. Then, whoever they end up next to, that is their partner for the activity, or that is the person that they share their Think-pair-share answer with. This is most defiantly a middle school idea!

3. Place random discussion or reading comprehension questions on sticky notes underneath a handful of desks. When you are ready to ask questions, ask them to peek and read-aloud the questions. This works really well for introverted or shy students. Plus, they LOVE secret note passing. Another great idea

4. Have each student call on the next student to answer your lesson questions. This motivates them to stay focused, and they enjoy calling on others! Great idea…. I can’t wait to try it.

5. At the beginning of class on Mondays, ask if anyone has any crazy stories to share from the weekend.  I do this with my high school classes and students love to share.

Rubrics for Assessment

I love using rubrics for assessment. I am constantly looking to improve my own teaching practice through authentic assessments. I recently discovered a website organized by University of Wisconsin, Stout Campus for organizing a variety of different multimedia based rubrics. Check out the rubrics today and save yourself some valuable time. Don’t recreate the wheel, just modify it!


I learned about TableQuiz from Technology Tidbits.  TableQuiz is very simple to use and would be great to use in a 1 to 1 environment.  Tabletquiz is an application that enables anybody to make personalized quiz and survey apps. First you create the quiz/survey on our website and then you run your app on an iPad, iPhone or Android tablet.  Tabletquiz is designed to take advantage of the mobile device screen size, ease-of-use and multimedia capabilities (pictures, audio and video). This allows to create visually appealing apps in a short time, without programming.  

The application is very simple to use. The quiz can be 20 multiple choice questions per quiz including images and videos. In order for students to access the quiz they need to either download the application on their mobile device or bookmark the website. Teachers can access the quiz results online and download them to an excel spreadsheet. This application seems very simple to implement in the classroom for a informative assessment or review activity.

Increase Student Engagement with Deliberation

I learned about Deliberation Lessons at the NCSS Conference Presentation in Washington D.C. on December 2nd, 2011.  The workshop was really interesting and provided me with a plethora of new resources to engage students in the 21st century classroom. The website contains primary documents about controversial issues in our society, which can engage students in the content and create meaningful classroom discussions. Regardless of what you teach these materials and the style of instruction is powerful.  For more information visit: Deliberation in a Democracy in the Americas

Deliberation is the focused exchange of ideas and the analysis of multiple views with the aim of making a personal decision and finding areas of agreement within a group.

Why Are We Deliberating?
People must be able and willing to express and exchange ideas among themselves, with community leaders, and with their representatives in government. People and public officials in a democracy need skills and opportunities to engage in civil public discussion of controversial issues in order to make informed policy decisions. Deliberation requires keeping an open mind, as this skill enables people to reconsider a decision based on new information or changing circumstances.

Read it Anywhere

Read It Later lets you save what you find on the web to watch and read on any device, at any time.
It’s been called “a DVR for the web” by the New York Times, Business Week, Time, TechCrunch and more. This App is so useful when you want to read something but don’t have the time. You can: save pages from your phone or computer, read it on or offline (even no internet), and access it anywhere. This is a great new application that you should check out today!

Read Anytime, Online or Off

Easily access any page saved in your reading list, even when you are not connected to the internet!

Read It Later can download offline copies of each page in your list. You can pick whether you want to download the entire page complete with images or an optimized text-only view.

Once Read It Later has downloaded your content, you can read your list at 30,000 ft while in airplane mode, or stories below the ground in the subway on the way to work.

Quick Screen Share

I am constantly helping my mother (over the phone) with her computer, iPhone, and basically anything on the Internet. I usually use Awesome Screen Shot  to email her animated and descriptive how to guides and walk her through the “complicated process” of using her computer. I have also used remote desktop programs such as Team Viewer before.

I just discovered Quick Screen Share. is one of the simplest way to share screens with anybody. Some benefits include: No registration required, it’s free, and nothing to install on your computer. It is particularly useful for user support and collaboration.


Great Ideas: 7 Uses for QR Codes in School

I discovered another great blog post from Vicki Davis author of the  Cool Cat Teacher blog. I could not agree more with Vicki that we should be encourage students to use their cell phones in the classroom. Vicky said “Let’s harness the elephant in the room instead of pretending he isn’t there. Cell phones and mp3 players provide us valuable links to the pockets and minds of the students we teach and qr codes are a great tool to leverage that connection.”   Great ideas Vicki!

Here are some great idea’s from Vicki’s Blog: 7 Uses of QR Codes in the Classroom

1 – CoverPage for Portfolios
I have my students write one summary blog post including hyperlinks to everything they have done for that period of time. For the eighth grade portfolio, we do have printed copies of many items that they save to use as reference during high school. (A sample MLA paper, instructions on creating MLA papers, proofreaders marks, etc. as well as their best of work.)

Their cover page has a QR Code on it. I can snap a picture on whatever device I need and have their summary post up on my screen in less than a second. The summary post includes hyperlinks to everything they have done online.

2 – Anything I have to assess online.
If I have 3-4 online items in a week, I have the students generate QR Codes and put them on ONE piece of paper and turn that in on Friday. Assessment is a snap and I can take pictures and use them.

3- When I want them to use an app
I would like to be 1:1 ipod touch or iPad at some point. But, for now, I share free apps with the students and try to find the Android, Blackberry, and iPod/iPhone equivalent. Put a picture of the QR Code for each of those on the Powerpoint Slide and show it on the board. The students can take a picture of the Code for their device and be taken to the app download screen immediately.

4- Take them to a website from a PowerPoint slide
If I’m using a PowerPoint and want them to go to any website, I always put the QR code on the slide.
(This needs to be standard practice at all conferences.)

5- Take them to a website as we are surfing.
Add Mobile Barcoder to your Firefox web browser. When you go to a website and want your students to follow you there on their mobile devices, you can use this handy add on to generate and show the mobile barcode on the screen. Just make sure that the link you are encoding is near the top of the screen, sometimes if you generate it low on the screen, students cannot get a good photo on their camera.

6 – Encode Homework.
This is a new one I’m testing. I don’t give a lot of homework, however, if I have some things I need them to do, I can encode the text and tape it up onto my assignment grid. They can snap a picture and put it into a text program of their choice. I’m not sure whether I’m going to end up keeping it as an SMS message or text file, but for now, I do it as a text file.

7 – To Hardlink and Remember
Our trophy case is FULL of trophies and state championships this year. We’ve just won state boys and girls track, team tennis for girls, state runner up tennis for boys and are hopeful about baseball. We’ve got movies of the assemblies and things. I’m encoding these and putting QR codes on the bottom of the trophies linking to the YouTube videos — for posterity. Eventually, we might put them in small plastic picture frames in front of the trophies, but most of the adults aren’t quite ready for that yet. (See more on hardlinking.)

Use Podcasts in the Classroom with Witness to History

I stumbled upon BBC’s Witness to History when I was searching for primary documents to use in my U.S. history classroom. The BBC Witness to History blog updates new primary source eyewitness accounts and voices from the BBC archive daily. The website takes listeners back in time to key events in history.  I don’t think I could think of a better way to learn about history other than to hear first-hand accounts of people who experienced each event.  Check it out today!

Here is a sample Witness to History: Pearl Harbor 


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