Category Archives: Education

Helping students self assess

*Students with hands up

Giving quizzes allows teachers to examine data and see what students understand and where they may need more practice. Ideally, quizzes should provide the same experience for the students themselves — allow them to reflect on what they know well and where they could improve. However, as any middle-school teacher will tell you, most students will look at the grade and then either proudly bring it home to mom, or — more likely — toss it in the recycle bin.

The ability to reflect on performance and use this information to improve oneself is a skill that can enhance one’s success. It is, therefore, a skill that I want to teach my students. To do this, I teach my students to reflect on their quizzes in order to learn from their mistakes. I use this as a math teacher, but it can be adapted to other subjects as well.

Quiz reflections come in all shapes and sizes. However, for me, there are three important aspects of reflection: examining the problem, analyzing the error, and learning how to perform the skill correctly. My quiz reflection form is a simple three column chart, but there are tons of ideas out there for teachers to modify and adapt.

more Helping students self assess – @PaulineZd SmartBlogs.

Snow Days Become ‘Cyber Days’

* Teachers

Winter weather may have kept Bishop Donahue High School students home from school Monday, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t have to go class.

Classes at Bishop Donahue were held entirely online Monday for the first “Cyber Day,” the school’s answer to lost instruction time from the large number of school cancellations this year.

“This is something new we are testing,” Principal Tom Wise said. “This way, we can keep students engaged and continue with lessons when school is canceled, instead of taking the whole day off.”

more Snow Days Become ‘Cyber Days’ at BDHS – News, Sports, Jobs – The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register.

Intervention Readiness Checklist

I recently had a student walk out of the classroom in a fit of frustration. Before leaving, I was able to squeeze a few morsels of details from her as to the source of her irritation. Almost in tears, she said that the in-class review session for our next test simply “was not working” for her. A million thoughts were racing through my mind. The student had never asked for assistance before. In addition, I was unaware of any desire on her end to improve her performance or current course average — she was bordering on a C+/B- average at that point. I felt blindsided. I felt completely in the dark as to how I could reach out to this student.

Have you had a similar experience with a student in need of an academic intervention? I believe that a big part of the frustration lies in the fact that as teachers we want to help all of our students, but all of our students are not ready to receive the help. Often there is a disconnect between our desire to intervene and the student’s willingness to accept our help. In psychology, the mismatch between feelings and actions is often labeled as “cognitive dissonance.” In the classroom, I tend to view the misalignment between the helper (teacher) and the receiver (student) as “coaching dissonance.” In an attempt to decrease coaching dissonance — and the challenges that accompany it — I created an intervention readiness checklist that teachers can use as an indicator for student receptiveness.

via Intervention — Ready or not, here I come! SmartBlogs.

15 Useful Educational Tools Every Teacher Should Know About

* FlippedClassroom

Image courtesy of: Dan Spencer


Today, we’ve seen a massive influx of technology being used in the academe. It was evident that the use of digital devices in the classroom boosts student learning and participation in class. Based on the 2013 PBS Learning Media study, 74% of K-12 teachers in the United States are now employing the use of mobile tech (mTech) to create digital lesson plans and keep their students motivated. However, for educators who are yet to take the digital leap, one of the greatest obstacles that you may encounter is the difficulty of managing and leveraging your tech-infused classroom. That is why for this entry, we’ll equip you with a rundown of the useful educational applications that you can use in pursuit of your digital teaching venture.

1.  Planboard

Touted as “the best way for teachers to organize their day,” the Planboard app is a simple and easy-to-use program to create your daily lesson plans. Text here can be formatted according to your desired typeface and you can even embed videos and reference links to your lessons. Completed plans can be exported into PDF and shared via email.

2.  LearnBoost

LearnBoost features an attendance checker, digital grade book log, a class period scheduler, and a detailed view of your students’ individual progress. You can also share its content to your students and their parents through email or Facebook.

3.  Edmodo

Pretty much like the social networking platform Facebook, Edmodo  is used it to share educational contents, blast homework, and notify your students with their grades and progress. With its Edmodo quiz builder feature, you can create digital exams that can automatically be checked upon completion. It is “a safe and easy way to connect and collaborate” with your students; a learning platform made by teachers for co-teachers, the news release from Verizon wrote.

4.  Animoto

Animoto is an all-in-one video-editing tool for teachers. Unlike movie-making software for PCs, it doesn’t require a complicated editing process. All you have to do is to insert a photo or video, then customize it with your preferred style and animation. You can also overlay a text or record voice narration for your completed projects.

5.  Knewton

Knewton is a site that customizes online learning content based on your students’ individual needs. To measure their level of proficiency and literacy, they will have to take an evaluation exam using Knewton, and a learning pathway will be suggested by the tool.

6.  iCivics

iCivics is a web tool to teach your students about civics in a child-friendly manner. It’s very engaging in nature, too, as the platform offers games wherein they can run for presidency, pass new laws, and argue on real-life cases.

7.  Teacher’s Assistant Pro: Track Student Behavior

This handy tool will help you record and track their individual behavior, actions, and class achievements. In here, you can easily remember records of your students who are habitually tardy, underachieving, missing homework submissions, and more. For a more thorough documentation, you can use color codes and attach an image to your records.

8.  Socrative  

Socrative gives you the most comprehensive student response system with a wide variety of quizzes and class exercises. You can utilize it to create multiple choice, true/false, short answer, or space race type of exams that runs on tablets, laptops, and smartphones.

9.  Khan Academy

Khan Academy provides one of the biggest eLearning resources where you can browse quizzes and creative presentations in the following subject areas: Math, Science, Arts, and Humanities. These digital contents are categorized per year level (3rd grade to 8th grade).

10. BetterLesson

This Web 2.0 tool offers a collection of over 3,000 plus complete K-12 Common Core-aligned lessons from over 130 master teachers. Better lesson may come in handy when you run out of ideas for your lecture and/or you wanted to try other methods used by your fellow educators.


11. Schoology

Schoology gives you the power to manage your class calendar, blast content with your students, and connect with other educators online. With its Facebook-like features, your students can create a group and collaborate with each other in or outside the campus. You can also set up a calendar for upcoming events like decathlons and they will all be notified at once.

12. EduBlogs

As the title suggests, this application (web and mobile) allows you to create timely blogs for your students’ benefit. You can maximize it for posting announcements, students’ achievements, and class candid moments.

13. Screenr

In case you want to demonstrate app/computer tutorials for your students (ex. how to send your homework using Google Drive), you can use Screenr to record your screen actions into a video clip. You can also overlay audio annotations as you record your actions.

14. FunBrain

If you’re a huge fan of gamification, FunBrain is the biggest web tool that contains a wide collection of curated educational games. They are categorized into Math, Reading, Fun Arcades, and Playground.


Educreations is an iPad application that lets teachers create videos to teach a particular topic. The interface is similar to the Paint app in Windows PCs. Using your fingertip or a stylus; you can create a moving digital sketch that shows how to solve a math problem. Adding a voice narration is also possible with the app.

These are the 15 digital tools we recommended for every teacher. Take note that some of them are mobile applications while some are online tools. Have you tried any of them? Do you have other apps you wish to share?


About the Author: 

Allie Cooper is a tech correspondent and a regular contributor for Techie Doodlers in the UK. She writes feature posts on educational technologies and other eLearning trends in the Academe.  Follow Allie on Twitter: @AllieCooper_18 and Google+.

Infographic: To MOOC, or not to MOOC

To MOOC, or not to MOOC

MOOCs are hot, but is the sizzle about to fizzle?

A short history of distance learning:

  • 1890s: Correspondence Courses
  • 1920: 4 million people took correspondence courses
  • 1993: Jones International University becomes first online U. [in the world]
  • 2006: Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) coined in 2008 by Canadians Dave Cormier and Bryan Alexander

2012: The MOOC market explodes:

  • 5 million: number of students enrolled in Coursera. 325 courses offered.
  • $63 million: total amount of investment funding in Coursera
  • 1.6 million students in 200 countries enrolled in Udacity. 26 courses offered.
  • 370,000: first year enrollment in edX. Offers 94 courses
  • $60 million: funding amount for edX, an MIT and Harvard project

Some new MOOCs: :

  • San Francisco-based NovoEd is now offering courses directly from Stanford Business School.
  • Berlin-based iversity is offering a wide range of courses from European educational institutions.
  • Edraak, will be a MOOC portal for the Arab world
  • In China – XuetangX
  • France: Universite Numerique

Countries of origin: [where the MOOCs are coming from] :

  • U.S.: 28%
  • U.K. 11%
  • India: 4.6%
  • Brazil: 4.5%
  • Canada: 4%
  • Spain: 3.9%
  • Australia: 3.5%
  • Greece: 2.2 %
  • Russia: 1.9%
  • Germany: 1.8%

Why all the investment interest? :

  • 2 billion potential learners around the world
  • More than 70 percent of them cannot afford a college degree
  • $400 billion: amount of money spent annually in U.S. on universities
  • The $400 billion: more than the annual revenues of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter combined.
  • 10 million: number of students who have taken at least one MOOC

FACT: Google is teaming up with EdX, to create — a You Tube for MOOCs. It will be open to everyone, including businesses, governments, and private individuals.

BUT: 30% of employers believe a MOOC course represents a valid completion – Even so, that’s a major achievement.

To MOOC: :

  • Most MOOCs are free or nearly free, a definite plus for the student.
  • Provides a solution to overcrowding.
  • Forces professors to improve lectures.
  • Creates a dynamic archive.
  • MOOCS are real college courses, complete with tests and grades.
  • Brings people together from all over the world.
  • Allows teachers to make the most of classroom time in blended classes. In a “flipped classroom,” teachers send students home with assignments to listen to or watch a recorded lecture

Or not to MOOC:

  • It’s not about you, it’s about Money, Money, honey
  • The motivation behind MOOCs is corporate profiteering.
  • It’s part of a cost-cutting agenda to privatize public higher education
  • MOOCs are the leading edge of the Wal-Martification of higher education.
  • MOOCs create a two-tier education system.
  • A “real” education for those who can afford to pay
  • A bargain basement education for those able to only afford online options
  • MOOCs are inferior
  • they lack interpersonal exchange
  • MOOCs are mechanistic
  • education’s core values reducing to a mechanistic information-delivery process
  • MOOCs are suffering from innovation exhaustion
  • The sizzle will fizzle
  • 93: failure rate percentage of students enrolled in MOOCs
  • 150,000 to 1. Student to teacher ratio. Is that any way to learn? Grading papers is impossible.

That is the question.

Universities (paid) fight back:

Top 10 elite schools ALSO offer MOOCs

  • Udemy: professors from universities like Dartmouth, the University of Virginia and Northwestern
  • iTunes U: Apple’s free app “gives students access to all the materials for courses in a single place.
  • Stanford:
  • FACT: 160,000 students from 190 countries signed up to Stanford’s Introduction to AI” course, with 23,000 reportedly completing.
  • UC Berkeley
  • MIT
  • Duke
  • Harvard
  • UCLA
  • Open Yale
  • Carnegie Mellon

And now there are
SPOCs: Small Private Online Courses :

  • New B-to-B concept: license online courses to a university or an organization or corporation.
  • Colorado State Global Campus, first to offer SPOCs
  • SPOCs have 17-25 students

The Path to Digital Citizenship

* Digital Citizenship

I’ve written and taught about digital citizenship for several years. And, while the term is new in our lexicon, the meaning spans generations. The simple acts of carrying oneself in a civil, appropriate manner are skillsets that have been integrated into every classroom since the very first school. Many would argue that digital citizenship is simply a buzzword and nothing dramatically new. While the underlying meaning is familiar, the medium by which adults and students interact has changed dramatically.

Digital Health and Wellness

Learning digital citizenship is a fairly new category in the student course list. In the past, students were taught to be civil and work toward being an impactful citizen in their society. The principle of citizenship is entwined in many school mission statements as well. In the past, bullying, teasing and fighting were seen as “childlike” behaviors and addressed as necessary. Students were told at an early age to play nicely together, to share and not to call each other names. While these events still happened, they did not have the reach and appeal of today.

With the launch of data networks, almost ubiquitous wifi and the smartphone, adults and students alike now share a platform for consuming and authoring information like our society has never seen. Today’s networked world gives everyone a voice, a digital space, a bullhorn to be heard. While this freedom of expression is nothing new to our society, the medium is taking us into uncharted territory.

more The Path to Digital Citizenship | Edutopia.

Tablets are changing the classroom

Tablet PC

As curriculum meshes with technology in the classroom, teachers are discovering that tablets can be game-changers.

Students can research without leaving the classroom, teachers can project and manipulate 3-D objects on a screen and a virtual library is available at the swipe of a student’s fingertip. Backpacks are lighter, teachers’ handouts are almost impossible to lose and it’s harder for a dog to eat homework.

St. George’s School fifth-grade teacher Jennifer Smith says Microsoft Surface tablets have been a great addition for her students. “They are flexible and portable. We can take them outside if we need to. We use them for social studies and science. They are great support for what we are already learning.”

At the same time, teachers say iPads and Microsoft Surfaces aren’t the be-all and end-all of technology in the classroom; it takes a digital ecosystem.

via Tablets are changing the classroom – – Nov. 23, 2013.

Insights Live from the 3rd iPad Summit

* 3rd iPad Summit

by Jennifer Carey

Last week I had the privilege of attending the third iPad Summit hosted by EdTechTeacher in Boston, Massachusetts. This fall’s summit was the largest ever – a sold out crowd of 1,000 participants. I live-blogged the conference, so you can read about the individual sessions I attended, along with the keynotes, on my blog here. (You can find my two previous Summit reports here and here.)

While officially an “iPad conference,” the theme of the Summit was definitely innovation and connectivity in education, whatever the device. Keynote speakers David Weinberger, Ph.D. and Ruben Puentedura, Ph.D. (the father of the SAMR model concept) highlighted key elements about 21st century learning: we must be connected online, we must re-envision education in the wake of new technology, and we should foster creativity and innovation not stymie it with restrictive practices and archaic security (or instructional) systems.

more Insights Live from the 3rd iPad Summit.

These MOOCs Will Make You Reconsider Everything About PD


Almost every teacher knows how it feels to slog through mandatory professional development. All too often, irrelevant workshops are an inevitable fact of life in the one-size-fits-all world of teacher training.

As a former fourth-grade teacher, Julia Stiglitz has suffered through dull courses. And while she can’t cure the boredom of teachers who must endure subpar PD, she hopes to transform the voluntary side of PD through so-called massive open online courses (MOOCs).

“Sitting through PD that is not related to something you need to work on can be very frustrating,” says Stiglitz, director of business development and strategic partnerships for Coursera. “One of the best aspects of online PD is the ability for teachers to get information that is relevant to them–and from really strong organizations that know their content and how to deliver it.”

Some of those “really strong” universities include Johns Hopkins (MD) and Vanderbilt (TN), and the list is growing. With the help of these institutions, Coursera began offering its own approach to PD in May, so the curriculum is still very much in development. A course operations specialist with the company works directly with the university ed school partners to develop content.

via These MOOCs Will Make You Reconsider Everything About PD — THE Journal.

Facebook Has Transformed My Students’ Writing—for the Better

Mary Altaffer/AP Photo

The Internet has ruined high-school writing. Write the line on the board five hundred times like Bart Simpson. Remember and internalize it. Intone it in an Andy Rooney-esque grumble.

I’ve heard the line repeated by dozens of educators and laypeople. I’ve even said it myself.

Thankfully it is untrue.

As a high-school English teacher, I read well over a thousand student essays a year. I can report that complete sentences are an increasingly endangered species. I wearily review the point of paragraphs every semester. This year I tried and failed to spark a senior class protest against “blobs”—my pejorative term for essays lacking paragraphs. When I see a winky face in the body of a personal essay—and believe me, it has happened enough to warrant a routine response—I use a red pen to draw next to it a larger face with narrow, angry eyes and gaping jaws poised to chomp the offending emoticon to pieces Pac-Man-style. My students analyze good writing and discuss the effect of word choice and elegant syntax on an audience’s reading experience. The uphill battle is worth fighting, but I’m always aware that something more foreboding than chronic senioritis lines up in opposition.

More Facebook Has Transformed My Students’ Writing—for the Better – Andrew Simmons – The Atlantic.