I've moved the blog!

I've moved my blog to www.coolcatteacher.com as well as all of the posts from this blog. Learn more...

Monday, December 31, 2012

Teach This! Teaching with lesson plans and ideas that rock 12/31/2012

  • George Corous goes after BYOD, Flipping classrooms and student surveys in a thought-provocing post that would make good reading and discussion at your school as you return.

    tags: education teaching edreform

  • Nice article at edweek about the informational texts versus great works of literature debate and what Common Core will do to lit. The one important, practical issue that all parties to this discussion MUST recognize - the classroom time is FINITE. Teachers would love to cover EVERYTHING but it just isn't practical. So, if one thing is emphasized over another, it may push something out. Unintended consequences are happening as people "align" their curriculum to common core standards. As all of the pundits and advocates argue this, it would be telling to sit down with an actual aligned curriculum to SEE what happens where the standards meet the lesson plans and what is actually pushed out - until then - it is all, rhetoric. Give us practical application, we're teachers, after all. From the edweek article: "Until recently, the closest we'd come to a major speech on the nonfiction-versus-fiction question was a piece in the Huffington Post by the English/language arts standards' co-authors, David Coleman and Sue Pimentel, insisting that literature "is not being left by the wayside." The message to rally the troops must have gone out, however. Because since the Coleman/Pimentel piece appeared, the common core's defenders have stepped up to counterbalance the literature-pushout crowd. The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation's Kathleen Porter-Magee, for instance, posted a piece arguing that it's a misinterpretation of the standards to say that teachers will have to teach less literature. In a recent email blast, the Foundation for Excellence in Education—led by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, one of the common core's biggest backers—declaimed the "misinformation flying around" about what will happen to literature under the common standards. "Contrary to reports," it said, "classic literature will not be lost with the implementation of the new standards." A glance at the standards' own suggested text lists, it noted, "reveals that the common core recognizes the importance of balancing great literature and historical nonfiction pieces.""

    tags: commoncore teaching english tumblr education literature non fiction common core

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 12/31/2012

  • A list of the finalists for Best Teacher blog for 2012. I hate to say that the edublog award timing wasn't good for me, but school was so crazy and I had such workload, I didn't mention it. I'm still very honored to be on the list of finalists - thank you to those of you readers who mentioned me and included me on the list - I really do appreciate it.More than that, it helps me help my family with this blogging that I do on the side. Thanks!

    tags: education news teaching

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Teach This! Teaching with lesson plans and ideas that rock 12/30/2012

  • A list of the finalists for Best Teacher blog for 2012. I hate to say that the edublog award timing wasn't good for me, but school was so crazy and I had such workload, I didn't mention it. I'm still very honored to be on the list of finalists - thank you to those of you readers who mentioned me and included me on the list - I really do appreciate it.More than that, it helps me help my family with this blogging that I do on the side. Thanks!

    tags: education news teaching

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 12/25/2012

  • An interesting overview of the different cloud matching services - interestingly the Apple iTunes Match (the most expensive option) will UPGRADE the quality of the music it matches for you, even if you have a lower quality version. Otherwise, as you make up your mind what to do, you'll want to read this article.

    tags: news music amazon itunes google

  • The Amazon mp3 store and cloud player is another option for your music. If you've been buying music from Amazon, you already have some music in the cloud - I have to buy it on Amazon for the senior tribute movies I make for graduation because iTunes has so much DRM protection that it is hard to find music that I can use in the movies.

    tags: news amazon music apps

  • I've been looking at cloud based music services - the Lifehacker people seem to recommend Google music (even if you have an ios device) although if you have more than 20,000 songs you may want to go with Amazon music for $25 a year for 250,000. iTunes Match is $25 a month no matter how much you have and will store everything in the cloud but it is expensive. As for me, I'm going to be setting up google music. Interestingly, some of the coolest gifts we give ourselves are apps in the cloud. this article shares all about Google music.

    tags: news google music

  • Caldav is what lifehacker recommends as an alternative to Google sync (which is going away January 31). I've been searching for an alternative to help our office manager figure out what to do. Lifehacker referenced this on their podcast from this week as still being currently the best way to replace Google calendar sync.

    tags: news apps gmail google outlook microsoft

  • The biggest privacy offenders (hat tip Lifehacker podcast) include Facebook, gmail, MSN Live, Skype, Twitter, Dropbox, Google Plus. This demonstrates whoch internet service providers share your personal data without an official court order. If you look at the infographic, you'll see that Facebook is more than twice the second offender, gmail. Many concerned about privacy are moving to services like PATH for just that reason.

    tags: news privacy edtech digiteen tumblr

  • Guardian has pulled its social media sharing app from Facebook (it is my understanding Wall Street Journal has too as discussed on the TWIT.tv - this week in tech show). As I'm wrapping and washing clothes, I'm listening to Twit on the iCatcher app to keep up with things. Many like the Downcast app, but iCatcher has always worked for me.

    tags: news apps facebook

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 12/24/2012

  • In this must-read post, Lisa Myers says so many things right. So many of us teachers have shocked that people have seen into the heart of who we are but why did some teachers have to die for people to see it? "No, for most of us, our all does not include a sacrificial death, but it does include a sacrificial life. It means working a full day at school then continuing that work at home well into the evening as we grade papers and prepare materials that will lead to authentic learning in the classroom. That’s our surface work. At a deeper level, however, we also do the following:”"

    tags: news teaching inspiration

  • I really like the idea of this app - it keeps up with the last time you did something (go to the doctor, change the oil, took a day off, changed your toothbrush) and reminds you when it is time to do that again. I like this as I don't want my to do list cluttered and then just forward and forward when I really need to know when the last time I did something happened so I can know how serious it would be. Even things like "when is the last time I did something kind for the janitor" or other things that are important but don't necessarily need to hit the list. Cool idea. I'm trying it.

    tags: news apps productivity

  • Teachmeets around the world are great opportunities for teachers to get together and share ideas. In the UK, they are having a teachmeet as well - sadly the tickets are already "sold out" which shows how many teachers really love these events. Informal ways for teachers to talk to teachers - these are great. There's one in Georgia in January - I'm working on my schedule to be there. Look for a teachmeet in your area.

    tags: news teachmeet unconference teaching uk ukedchat

  • The fact is that Tablets are here, they are useful, and they are proliferating as we speak. Most of my money this Christmas was spent at Amazon and the Apple store. Apps and music are where we spend our money. Two of my kids wanted iphones and the other, an ipad mini. Merry Christmas to Apple - I think many others are like that as well. I've been testing the Kenna tablet from SchoolTube which is a heavy duty droid tablet with slots for just about everything. Tablets are everywhere.

    tags: news tablet education trends tumblr

  • Many options for "making" video games (or simple animations) have emerged. In this short piece, Edudemic shares how one can use GameStar mechanic to make games along with a video. It is well worth a try although, depending on the type of game, Microsoft Kodu or Scratch may also work. There are also some very cool games with the Xbox Kinect SDK app that let you capture a person's body movements much like they do to create characters like Gollum in The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit.

    tags: news education apps tumblr gamification gaming

  • Adding voiceovers to Powerpoint? This is a skill both teachers and students should know how to do, although there are certainly ways to do it poorly (i.e. reading boring text-heavy slides word-for-word) or well (exciting, engaging sharing of content). This instruction and video tutorial is a review for those teachers not ready to make film but who want to do some flipping of content in their classes. You can also record your class discussions and sync with powerpoint slides using slideshare.net (although sometimes slideshare makes a mess of odd fonts.)

    tags: news powerpoint microsoft education

  • Smart Journals are becoming popular. Right now I'm using the vjournal app which creates a running journal in evernote with time stamps, photos, etc. - however, there are many app-specific smart journals as reviewed in this article on the Next Web. Look at how you're journaling for this year and consider these options including Memento, Day One, Path, and more.

    tags: productivity news apps tumblr evernote writing

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Teach This! Teaching with lesson plans and ideas that rock 12/23/2012

  • In this must-read post, Lisa Myers says so many things right. So many of us teachers have shocked that people have seen into the heart of who we are but why did some teachers have to die for people to see it? "No, for most of us, our all does not include a sacrificial death, but it does include a sacrificial life. It means working a full day at school then continuing that work at home well into the evening as we grade papers and prepare materials that will lead to authentic learning in the classroom. That’s our surface work. At a deeper level, however, we also do the following:”"

    tags: news teaching inspiration

  • Teachmeets around the world are great opportunities for teachers to get together and share ideas. In the UK, they are having a teachmeet as well - sadly the tickets are already "sold out" which shows how many teachers really love these events. Informal ways for teachers to talk to teachers - these are great. There's one in Georgia in January - I'm working on my schedule to be there. Look for a teachmeet in your area.

    tags: news teachmeet unconference teaching uk ukedchat

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 12/23/2012

  • Facebook has launched its response to Snapchat, with Facebook Poke, the self destructing message deliverer? Why would you want a message to self destruct or delete itself if a person tried to do a screengrab on their phone? Well, so you can send goofy pics to your friends with no trace left behind! Never fear, however, teenagers are here. They've been talking to me about how they get around this - if you're snap chatting a friend and you have a friend with you - get the friend up close to be ready to take a picture with their camera phone and then post the pic on Facebook that was delivered with Snapchat. They think it is hilarious but admit that this app is also being used as a new way to "flash" others. How long will it take for everyone to learn that you can't ever really destroy anything any more? If it is done it is permanent - the easiest way to keep private things private is to never do them in the first place. This article goes into more about Facebook poke if you really get into that sort of thing or want to keep up with what the kids are doing.

    tags: tumblr facebook social media digiteen privacy news

  • As you read up on research, start on Larry Ferlazzo's list of best posts on new research studies in 2012. Great post.

    tags: research news edreform education

  • Larry Ferlazzo writes what may be one of the most important POSTS I've read all year. I like Larry's balanced approach to education, and this post is one more reason why. Memorizing may give you a temporary bump in test scores but it is a long term recipe for disaster - aren't we seeing that now? If you want to understand more, read Larry's post and if you're really interested, pay for the research study behind it which studied 3500 German students over 5 years about their work in math. Larry says "A quick summary is that, though extrinsic motivation and “surface learning” (such as memorization) might result in short-term gains in assessments, they actually hurt long-term (five-year) academic growth. The development of student intrinsic motivation, “deep learning strategies” (requiring “elaboration” and connections to other knowledge — I think that might correspond to the idea of “transfer”), and students feeling that they had more of a sense of control (though this last quality had a less consistent effect — it seemed to depend on grade level) of their learning were the main ingredients necessary for increased academic growth..."

    tags: research math_teacher mathchat education news tumblr evernote

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 12/22/2012

  • Jamie Kelly does a nice job of dissecting much of what is wrong with technology journalism - going for the trending topic instead of saying "this topic is trending because of misinformation" (i.e. Instagram terms of service changes). I think these points are excellent and can also apply to much of what happens in the education circles as well -- if everybody is talking about ___, then everyone is searching about ____, then everyone is writing about ____ so they will be found. Sometimes it is good not to be everybody but to be somebody who is different and more importantly, who goes through the hype to be as accurate as possible.

    tags: news technology journalism tumblr writing blogging

  • With 7.5 million kids under 13 on Facebook, the idea that they are testing allowing strangers to message you for $1 is a problem. The whole COPPA/ Lie about your age to get on Facebook coupled with location based services on smartphones that don't require disclosure to parents is going to come to a head and if companies continue to pretend that lying on a checkbox absolves them of the responsbility to protect children, they are wrong.

    tags: news facebook privacy

  • This article from Lifehacker discusses "what's the deal about evernote" so that people can decide if it is for them. I've left and come back to evernote after I had a bad patch upgrade from Evernote that took a while for me to resolve. I think one of the most useful things I use it for is those procedures in PowerSchool that I do infrequently - like what the exact procedures are for how handle Academic Banquet records in Powerschool or checklists for starting the new year in Powerschool - I have quite a few of these checklists and instructions because I never could find my notes and always had to start over. ;-)

    tags: evernote news productivity

  • Evernote is one of my favorite apps and I'm constantly looking around the web for great ideas. Everbot is my next tool that I'll use to link evernote with gmail. It also has some google calendaring features, but I'm most excited about the ability to add to and retrieve from evernote into email without a lot of hassle. Evernote, in my opinion, exceeds the ability of other services and notebooks because of its: ubiquity, functionality and the fact is has so many apps for the service including vJournal which I use to take notes daily, and also because of how it can search every kind of text imaginable, including handwritten text. While some use evernote and dropbox interchangeably - there is a dramatic difference. I don't need or want to reference every document but may want to open them up on multiple computers -- thus Dropbox - but I do need my notes on running my life to move with me from computer to computer -- thus Evernote.

    tags: productivity news tumblr evernote gmail

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 12/21/2012

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 12/20/2012

  • "Front & Center with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Photos, videos and stories from our artists. Interviews, articles and links from our staff. A new way to follow the music!" So many organizations are finding an audience on Tumblr and YouTube. Schools, arts, and more. The stage is no longer the only stage or the most important stage - and websites like tumblr can help struggling nonprofits attract more. In this series, the artists are talking about how they've created new artistry around the Nutcracker. Very cool.

    tags: news nonprofit tumblr video socialmedia

  • An excellent article about the recent INstagram outrage and comments that "you are the product." This is a great read and has excellent points refuting this over-used statement about the current business models on the Net. As for me, I'm scrutinizing the services I use and have been trying out app.net - I don't like what Twitter has done by closing down their api and think app.net has potential as a business model.  From the post: "We can and should support the companies we love with our money. Companies can and should have balanced streams of income so that they’re not solely dependent on just one. We all should consider the business models of the companies we trust with our data. But we should not assume that, just because we pay a company they’ll treat us better, or that if we’re not paying that the company is allowed to treat us like shit. Reality is just more complicated than that. What matters is how companies demonstrate their respect for their customers. We should hold their feet to the fire when they demonstrate a lack of respect. And we should all stop saying, “if you’re not paying for the product, you are the product,” because it doesn’t really mean anything, it excuses the behavior of bad companies, and it makes you sound kind of like a stoner looking at their hand for the first time."

    tags: news instagram business privacy tos

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Teach This! Teaching with lesson plans and ideas that rock 12/19/2012

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 12/19/2012

  • The trick to sending content from your ipad 2 or or iPhone 4S or higher is to turn on mirroring. You double click and then slide backwards to click the airplay button - if you have no clue what I just said, you'll want to use this article from apple about how to do it.

    tags: news ipad airplay iphone apple tv

  • App Advice is my favorite app for finding apps. This is their list of best apps for the Apple TV. The first one recommended is the REmote app. Just note that it is a bit tricky to learn to use the remote, but once you do, you may prefer it over the tiny apple remote that comes with the tv and keeps getting lost in the couch.

    tags: news ipad Apple TV airplay apps

  • The read write web gives an overview of more airplay ready apps. An interesting note pointed out in this article is that instead of using the Apple TV remote, that one can use the netflix app instead and send movies to the Apple TV. The netflix ipad app is my favorite app for looking at Netflix - it gives recommendations that you can't get on the roku or Apple TV. Some other great ideas here as well. You still have time to get an Apple TV if you have wifi and a pretty decent internet speed, it could make a great gift.

    tags: news ipad ios airplay

  • So, you don't understand why 2 screens are necessary and why the iphone/ ipad would need to be connected to a large TV. I have an Apple TV and beginning to use it with my ipad and the possibilities are revolutionary. I first heard of the Apple TV, most of the teachers who have 1:1 ipads in their school are using the Apple TV to wirelessly send content to their projectors. This article from mashable thoroughly covers what the dual screen revolution means to the classroom and your family room. "Dual-screen apps change all of that by shifting the software and user experience model from one user to potentially many, and from one screen (PC/phone/tablet) to two screens (phone/tablet and TV monitor). From a software development and user-experience perspective, the large monitor (which is the true second screen -- versus the standard concept that considers the tablet as the second screen) becomes an open computing surface where one can render any form of application functionality, information, data and content."

    tags: Apple news ios airplay dual screen google tv roku evernote tumblr

  • Apple's official list of airplay enabled apps. If you have an Apple TV, you can use apps to send content to your Apple TV from your ipad or iphone. This list is created by Apple.

    tags: news ios Apple TV airplay

  • An excellent list of airplay enabled apps - although this was out a bit before the current Apple TV, I'm finding that these are some of the highest rated apps on the store with some very cool video capabilities. For example, the free ShowMe app combs your networks and serves up video that your friends are watching -- not to your ipad (although that is possible) but to your TV that is enabled with the Apple TV. I'm finding the Apple TV higher quality than my Roku box, although I'm keeping my Roku box because it has Amazon and my Apple TV does not. If you get an Apple TV, make sure you set up Remote and download some of these apps.

    tags: news ios airplay Apple TV

  • Some great cases for the ipad. If you spend all this money at Christmas, make sure you get a good case to protect the ipad for your child. The thick rubberized cases like Otterbox are being purchased by many schools.

    tags: education ipad news

  • More information on Mike Like

    tags: education pinterest news

  • I am not sure why pinterest would confuse their brand by having Mikee Like as their button. My pinterest button literally changed to "Mike Like" it in Chrome and really, I'm not so happy about it. It is very similar to the pin button - this lets you pin to MikeLike, Pinterest, and Tumblr. I may reinstall pin from pinterest -- right click in Chrome and see if your pinterest button has been replaced. What a pain! The biggest issue is that MikeLike membership is by invite-only -- but this page can get you an invite. This is a drawback of add ins - if you put in an add in by a company other than the one who makes it, they can change it on you. I, personally, find this bothersome. 

    tags: education news apps tumblr

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Teach This! Teaching with lesson plans and ideas that rock 12/18/2012

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 12/18/2012

  • This is a very true post about how the mom who wrote the viral post about mental health didn't protect the privacy of her 13 year old son. I totally agree. She should have written it anonymously - she's forever harmed her own child. "I’m even more appalled that so very few adults seem to care about the potential impact on her son. She is either getting kudos all around for being so brave, so honest, so real, or she is being called out for being retrograde in her attitudes about mental illness and violence. But very few have commented about the effect on her son. It’s as though they’ve written him off. He’s just a talking point. A springboard for discussion. An avatar of people’s worst fears. But not a child struggling."

    tags: education news mental health privacy tumblr

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Teach This! Teaching with lesson plans and ideas that rock 12/17/2012

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 12/17/2012

  • While I don't endorse blindly sharing infographics because they look good, (A pig in a prom dress is still a pig, as I tweeted about infographics last week), this list from visual.ly of 20 great infographics of 2012 is worth a look. If your class designs infographics, these would be fascinating to dissect and share, both from a graphic design perspective and a data analysis approach. Very cool.

    tags: news infographic evernote

  • I love this post over on HASTAC about a student's experience writing a grammar and writing website for his/her college before starting school there. While you might think that having an "expert" write such a guide is the best idea, think again. Learning happens as you collaborate and write with others. This is a great example and I'm using it in my collaborative writing book. "As I wrote the guides, I began to realize that I had been making mistakes in my own writing for years. I learned that plagiarism can be borrowing ideas, not just exact words, without citation. I also fixed several grammar mistakes, such as my overuse of semicolons and my tendency to end sentences with prepositions. All my problems were rather basic and easy to fix, but I feel as if my writing has greatly improved.

    tags: education news collaborative writing blogging

  • While I don't condone what Anonymous does, neither do I condone Westboro Baptist Church and their actions. As a Christian and a Baptist, I want to make it clear that this is a fringe hate group and in no way represents the views of the majority of Christians - but I can only speak for myself. When they came to Valdosta, many of us Baptists in the area openly condemned them. Andy Stanley, a pastor in Atlanta preached a sermon series "The Separation of Church and Hate" that is worth searching and viewing. It is worth saying.

    tags: education news tumblr

  • For those of you who are searching for some places where students can respond and some lesson plans, the New York Times' Learning Network has an open place for students to respond and share their thoughts along with some lesson plans for teachers.

    tags: news newtown lessonplans teaching

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

"I am Adam Lanza's Mother" Essay goes viral

Anarchist Soccer Mom Blog - Her post has gone viral
The Anarchist Soccer Mom's post has gone viral. If you teach college psychology or in any profession dealing with public policy or mental health in the US, this is a post to share and discuss with your students.
In a viral blog, a Mom of a mentally ill 13 year old stirs up conversations about mental health and how hard it is to get help for a child with anger problems.

While I applaud the article, it saddens me - she changed her child's name, but still, I don't think it will be hard for those who follow her to figure out who she is -- or more importantly - her child. Her child will be labeled and that is sad.

Even worse is this comment:

"When I asked my son’s social worker about my options, he said that the only thing I could do was to get Michael charged with a crime. “If he’s back in the system, they’ll create a paper trail,” he said. “That’s the only way you’re ever going to get anything done. No one will pay attention to you unless you’ve got charges.”

I don’t believe my son belongs in jail. The chaotic environment exacerbates Michael’s sensitivity to sensory stimuli and doesn’t deal with the underlying pathology. But it seems like the United States is using prison as the solution of choice for mentally ill people. According to Human Rights Watch, the number of mentally ill inmates in U.S. prisons quadrupled from 2000 to 2006, and it continues to rise—in fact, the rate of inmate mental illness is five times greater (56 percent) than in the non-incarcerated population. (http://www.hrw.org/news/2006/09/05/us-number-mentally-ill-prisons-quadrupled)"

You shouldn't have to put a child in jail to get them help for a mental illness -- the circumstances that make that happen are what is criminal.

We want to blame the gun but if we're not helping scared Mom's with their children who are mentally ill, we're ignoring the real problem.

If you are a college professor of psychology or any profession dealing with mental health and public policy in the United States, I think this is a vitally important read.


Remember the noble fallen, teacher: 4 ways to take action in their honor #newtown

Angela Maiers is right, there is no lesson plan for this. There are children who will not open presents under the tree for them this year because of the senseless tragedy of the lone gunman in Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary school. This earth is neither heaven nor hell - but sometimes the face of both show up here. Friday, hell showed his face.

Remember the noble fallen, teachers.

You are a teacher. You are noble.

Why does it take a dumb tragedy for people to realize how dedicated most of you are to your students? You make sacrifices every day and I know that many of you out there would do the same thing for your babies in your classroom.

But you aren't called to die for your kids. You're called to live for them and show them how to live.

We grieved as a nation when 9/11 happened, Columbine, Virginia Tech, and we grieve again now - whipped into even more of a frenzy by politicians and a media that are pulling on our heartstrings so that many can do little but cry and hold our babies.

But it is time to loosen our purse strings and make the phone ring to save children alive today who need us. We are teachers, practical people who act. Let's honor our fallen by SERVING and SAVING kids in their honor.

Teachers stand in the gap.

But we also must remember that there are warm bodied children who will be tucked into their beds tonight because the last task ever done by 6 noble teachers and a principal was to stand in the gap and protect them. These educators gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect the children in their care, like the Great Teacher who did this for us.

We can be shocked and certainly, we can talk about this with others. But if talk is all we do, we're wasting our breath. There is nothing we can do to bring back these 20 children and 6 teachers. I want to add some perspective here about what we can and should do in honor of these children and educators.

Act to save children now

The death of children is always tragic. All of those hopes and dreams - gone. It is especially tragic if it is senseless and preventable. The leading cause of death of children according to the United States National Insitute of Health is accidents. In 2009, there were 1,314 children killed in automobile accidents (almost 4 a day). One study showed that 72% of cars have their booster seats installed incorrectly. If we look at the CDC stats on the things most likely to kill young children, it remains automobile accidents. It isn't a crazy gunman we should worry about most, but parents and caregivers who don't buckle their kids in properly.

Let's also point out that 6.9 million children die every year, largely due to malnutrition and another report cited by USA today says that 18,000 children die every day of hunger. Even worse, if there could be such a thing, there are an estimated 9 million children in slavery today. (See Free Slaves this Christmas.) Tens of thousands of children have been killed by gunmen in Darfur since the beginning of that genocide in 2004.

But, Vicki, are you marginalizing what happened in Connecticut?

No! Please follow me here. Let's make these lost lives count to save others.

Teachers stand in the gap

Let's grieve by giving in honor of our fallen heroes. On Monday, you're not going to be asked to die for your students, but to live for your students. Let's channel this grief in the honor of those who are fallen to SAVE lives of children. It is what we should do as teachers.

These teachers used their bodies to protect the children in their care. Let's use ours to protect the children in ours.

What can we do to honor these fallen teachers?

1- Talk to your students.

Yes, of course, you can talk to and love your students. They will have questions, be there for them. But use this opportunity to talk about something that is a greater threat to them than a gunman -- wearing their seatbelt and getting adults to wear them too. We will save more children that way than putting bullet proof glass in the front office. (Larry Ferlazzo has compiled a great list of resources for dealing with tragedy.)

2 - Give donations to organizations that protect children in the name of the fallen teachers.

Donate to Destiny Rescue, a slavery rescue organization, or any worthwhile organization that feeds and helps children. Raise money to help children who need you. Spent your grief honoring these fallen teachers and students by helping children! Write a check and put these six names above on the "in honor of" list.

What greater tribute can be given to a teacher who gave her life sacrificially for her students than to sacrificially give to save another child's life? Couldn't we trend the names of these six women on donor lists for worthy organizations around the world?

3 - Schedule a car seat check at your school.

If you want to save the lives of children - work to make sure parents and children are properly secured in their vehicles. Use the empathy of parents in a positive direction for them to realize that senseless accidents are the number one killer of children in the US and how to prevent those. Don't let this grief be wasted - SAVE LIVES.

4 - Rededicate yourself to your students.

When things like this happen, we see how much these kids really mean to us. Their lives are in our care. This is an incredible responsibility and opportunity. Never settle for even one child to be lost.

Let's take steps to end the death of children wherever it is happening.

Things went right back to "normal" after 9/11 and in a few weeks, many will move on from this too. But if we can adopt a hungry child - every month we can remember. If we can donate and raise money for causes that help children live healthy lives and do this every year -- we can remember.

And more than remembering - we can honor.

So, in honor of these educators, I'm going to go to my classes on Monday and ask them what they want to do in the 3 days we have left to support an organization that helps save the lives of children and we're going to do it in honor of those who lost their lives at Sandy Hook. I'm going to make a donation in honor of these women to Rescue Atlanta, a nonprofit in Atlanta taking steps to end the child sex trade right here on my door.

Talking, crying, melancholy - throw those tissues away and get busy with your grief - turn your grief into giving and do it in honor of the great ones among us who gave their ultimate gift to their students - their lives.

Remember your noble calling, teacher.

Remember the noble fallen teachers. May we never forget.

My husband said some of you will be mad at me for this post as I read it to him in the car - I hope before you comment, you'll read the whole thing and know that I

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 12/16/2012

  • Billed as a mobile search engine - this allows for quick searching from a mobile device... "This new search app, which works universally on both iPhone and iPad, is built upon the independent search engine DuckDuckGo, which we also use to provide search through the MacStories archives. DuckDuckGo is a pretty innovative and ambitious search engine, which distinguishes itself from big competitors with accurate, plainly listed and pre-sorted search results, diversified search suggestions, and an extensive amount of useful shortcuts to quicken the search process. Bang On focuses on one specific of those syntax shortcuts: !bang. With this exclamation mark syntax, you can search specific sites like Google, Wikipedia or YouTube by entering for instance “!google” with you search.

    tags: app news productivity mlearning mobile mobile_apps

  • If you have a wordpress blog, this app - Poster - is an app that many seem to love for wordpress. Worth a download if you're on wordpress. (I use blogpress because it is compatible with blogger but this app looks more feature rich than blogpress.) I am thinking this would work with edublogs - it is worth a try for those of you blogging in a 1:1 ipad environment.

    tags: app news wordpress

  • Day One as been named the Mac App Store 2012 mac of the year. This personal journaling tool helps you write and record your life. Right now I'm using vJournal as it syncs with Evernote but I'm considering a swap to Day 1 just because it is BEAUTIFUL. I just get nervous about putting things in an app if it can't export -- this might be able to - but I'm looking into it. It is worth a mention because the CEO of Twitter is using it every day and tweeted and endorsement recently.

    tags: news app journal mac ipad

  • This is a reminders app that streamlines the reminders process for the iphone/ ipad. I like the fact it has repeating reminders and you can easily reschedule. I've found the native reminders app a bit cumbersome in the iphone/ ipad and don't use it.

    tags: news app ipad reminders productivity

  • So many cool calendars and apps for the Mac. Thinking my next computer will be one, although I totally love and recommend my Think Center m90z as a great touch-screen computer for the family. Fantastical is a natural language calendar app for the Mac and you can try it for free.

    tags: news app calendar productivity mac

  • A new RSS reader has come on the scene called Fever. It lets you say "how hot" certain feeds are for you and also looks at the web and predicts the hottest things for you to read. I'm on my ipad this weekend so I can't buy and install fever (I think it resides on a Mac -- looking for a PC version now.) This is basically software that one person designed that is getting some buzz in tech circles for usability and making RSS feed reading manageable again. Worth a look. (I've discovered that it requires a bit of geekiness and your own server to set up -- so you'll have to ask your "IT" person if you want fever. - The interface is still cool, though.)

    tags: news apps rss tumblr

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 12/15/2012

  • Grade fabrication is worse than grade inflation. Which is worse - the fact that the education system is lying about a child who can't walk and can't say his parent's names -- by giving the child A's in higher level subjects like Algebra and science -- or the system that forces education to go down the road from failing to farce. Not every student is an A student. Period. We need age appropriate, fair measures. I think this article exposes a larger problem. I have a teacher friend that talked to me several years back - she was in a local public school system. The principal told her that her F's HAD to become C's and her C's needed to move up and thus on down the line. She said she wouldn't do it, that she'd give the principal her gradebook and he could lie, but she wouldn't. So, this doesn't surprise me. Honesty and character are what you do when no one is looking -- but the fact that the Gwinett County school system can't even own up when people are looking is bothersome as well. Something is rotten and it isn't in the state of Denmark... does this bother anyone else? "My goal isn't to have him do Algebra I right now. My goal is to have him walk," DeWeese told WSBTV. "I would love to hear him say 'mom' or 'dad,' but I know that's probably never going to happen." DeWeese's concerns aren't ungrounded. Teachers and administrators across subjects have crumbled under increasing pressure to demonstrate improved student performance. A report last month found that as many as one in five teachers in Kansas and neighboring states reports science grades on student report cards without actually teaching or testing students on the subject.

    tags: education news grades tumblr

  • Dave Parry at @academhack talks about the Dunbar number for educating. he thinks his number is 50-60 students. I am in a high school/ middle school and I am up close to 100 and feel that I have meaningful interactions with that many, however, I am around them all day long - see them at lunch, games, etc. So, I could understand how that number may be lower for a college professor. Great question worth asking and perhaps researching based upon these anecdotal conversations. Read more on his blog: "But this got me to wondering what is the Dunbar number for instruction. That is at any one time what is the number of students I can interact with, what is the cognitive limit of the number of students I can maintain and have a consistent interaction with. I think we can all agree that the fewer the students the more time I have to spend with each, and versa visa, the more students the less time I can spend with each. But I am hypothesizing about something slightly different here. What is the educational cognitive load? What is the Dunbar number for instruction? At what point do the edges start to fray and do I lose track of the students I am interacting with over the course of a semester? So here’s my guess, and this is just a starting point. I think my Dunbar number for instruction is about 45-60. That is over the course of a semester I can handle about 45-60 in classes and still interact with them, become invested in them, and try to treat each (as much as possible) as an individual who is having an educational experience in which I play a role. Keep that number under 60 and I pretty much “know” all of my students. If someone walks into my office and says “How is Steven doing this semester?” I know about his semester. How he is doing. How he is engaging the material, and probably some additional material about where he is at with in the program and what interests him. Keep that number under 60 and I think that is true of all of my students. But as that number rises over 60 I start to lose the ability to “keep all the students in my head.” That is I start to lose track of some, they disappear, fade into the background. I can keep tabs on most but I end up focusing on the ones who need challenging, or the ones who are struggling, and some in the middle get lost under the weight of too many students.

    tags: education news

  • I have to say - @profhacker ROCKS. In this week's round up (something I always try to read) he points to an article questioning what the "Dunbar number is for teaching." The Dunbar number is number that hypothetically, is the maximum number you can meaningfully have interactions - really, the number of "friends" you can have and those people be REAL friends -- or at least acquaintances. This question is an important one -- if we can find the "Dunbar number for teaching" then we could structure class sizes and course loads to not exceed that maximum - at least if we care about real teaching. It could at least give us a litmus test to determine if organizations really care about good teaching. We know that smaller class sizes are better - but if we can MEANINGFULLY interact - in these times, wouldn't we look at that upper limit as a sort of maximum number? I will link to the other article as well, but wanted to point out profhacker just because the blog ROCKS.

    tags: education pln news tumblr dunbar number

  • I need to get my daughter to translate this very cool trailer for a project for teachers - very cool. Why don't we make trailers to start school years and projects? We could even end a project by having kids make trailers for the next participants. Cool.

    tags: education news twitter pln ideas

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, December 14, 2012


Everything has new meaning. With my oldest being a senior, every time we do something, I want it to last and wonder if it is the last time we'll do this or that. I want him to remember that I love him.
As you build your life and legacy, you want it to last.
You never know when you're putting in the last piece.
Photo credit: Big Stock

I have been berated by an anonymous commenter previously for sharing my thoughts about my oldest son on this blog. I was told I should just write him a letter and not share my thoughts on my blog. However, I have decided that

  1. This my blog and I do my best to share what I think will encourage and help others and 
  2. There are universal truths in these experiences. When I share my personal experiences, my posts have life and aren't the sanitized, generic plasti-posts on the blogs of the bots & spammers just trying to get traffic.

While this post is inspired by my children, it is written for you -mostly adults and mostly educators - as you ponder the gifts that sit in your chairs each day.
Enjoy even the frustrating moments like teaching how to tie on a shoe.
They only come once.  Photo Credit: istockphoto

When your children are little, you get absolutely SICK of people telling you
"enjoy them while they are little, the time goes too fast." 
You think you know how fast time goes, until you wake up one day and that toddler you threw on your hip or that child that you held and talked to through the night on the day he was born, is now 6'6" and towering over you with big arms and a deep, bellowing voice. Something happened and you had no idea that it REALLY would. Just like the fifth grader who couldn't comprehend that she'd be graduating in 8 short years, you don't truly understand that they WILL grow into adults and leave your house. If you did, you (and I) would act differently. Not so assuming.

Last. I'm just not ready for that last time he'll come into my classroom wanting a water out of the fridge. I'm not ready for that last school day where I make his green tea latte and leave it on the table in the morning and hope he eats the fresh steaming biscuits and ham I've left for him. I'm still reeling from his last football game -- I'm going to miss it. Heading to a basketball game tonight- we have another month but I know that this wasn't meant to last either.

Solomon is right - there's a time for every purpose under heaven. There's a time for first games and there's a time for last. It isn't like he'll never play a pickup game with his buddies or that he's no longer going to hit my kitchen table for a latte and ham biscuit.

But then again, we never know with these children. Children are a gift. Every human being has the potential to be a gift -- even though some choose to act like a curse -- we all have the potential for good. We each are a mix of good and bad in many ways.

But, tonight as you look at that toddler sleeping and take that wispy tendril of hair and tuck it behind her ear or as you wrestle just one more time with your son who can't get enough of trying to attack dad when he's exhausted - just think of this word - LAST.

You never know when any moment will be your last.

When your child is a senior, you KNOW it - you know that there are things that won't happen again. It is the knowing that makes the difference.

But really, we should know it at every moment with every child -- not so we can spoil them and treat them like a bubble boy- but so we can treasure those moments.

As I read Mitch Albom's riveting new book,The Time Keeper (a GREAT read for people of all ages, by the way), it hit me just how precious time is. The fact that it is scarce is what makes it so precious.

So, in many ways, these last moments are like the last bite of the best pecan pie you've ever eaten -- delicious. You are ready to be "done" - knowing you have no more room for any more - but yet, you want to enjoy it one last time. Just one... more.... bite.

Truthfully, when it was time to have my children, I was so miserable, that I would have done whatever it took to bring them into this world. And, likewise, I really think that with most of us, when it is time for our children to go - we're ready for it - as hard as it is - we are ready to send them off.

As we await my son's letter from his #1 choice for college, his Dad's and my alma mater, Georgia Tech, I just look at him daily and think of the world - LAST.

I know these things aren't meant to last. In some ways I want them to last. I want to enjoy each thing because I know very soon, he'll be out there in this world and I hope that he'll tackle it and do work that is meant to LAST.

I was reading about a list of things that people over 100 wished. (Can't find source, I heard it in the LIfe Habits Podcast this week.) They wished they had spent their time on more things that would last past their own lifetime. For me, it is my children, my students, Flat Classroom, writing things to inspire and encourage others, and the work and my beautiful, wonderful church, Sherwood. Nothing lasts. It will all be gone one day...even this precious child of mine...because death runs in my family and if you haven't checked, it runs in yours too.

As I watch Jane McGonigal's TED speech "The game that can give you 10 extra years of life" talks about other regrets of the dying. Of course, her conclusion is that gaming is the solution to life isn't in line with my own thoughts, but she has some great points worth pondering.

We get these feelings and have milestones pressed upon us so that we will look at our lives and see if we are spending time doing things that will last. Anything else is just grasping the wind.

Write these four letters down on your planner or something today L-A-S-T and ponder the multiple meanings of this word. I hope that I'm right and the anonymous commenter was wrong, that by sharing these words you've decided to take a hard look at your life and do things that will last.

Now, I have one more thing to mention that some of you may not like. You can read Vicki's blog about being all hunky dory with your life and think positively about things, but just as not every student is an A student (wish some parents would realize that) not all of you are in jobs that fit your talents.

This morning, I read my daily Rick Warren devotional (author of the Purpose Driven Life) and he says:

"To fulfill God's will for your life, you need work that expresses what God made you to be. If you're in a job that is not using the talents, gifts, abilities, and interests that God gave you, you may want to pray about whether or not you're in a mismatched job.

This is a serious problem, and it's a spiritual issue. It is far more important than you may think it is -- because God has given you your gifts, talents, and abilities, and one day He's going to say, "What did you do with them?" And do you want to say, "Well, I spent my life at a job that didn't use them." "

Right now isn't a good time to think about whether you should be teaching or doing anything else... you're too tired if you're an educator. But I think there are some business people out there who are called to be teachers and not doing it...I think there are those who are afraid to move into education even though it is their calling.

There are also, perhaps, some people who are teachers and know it isn't a fit. I'm not talking about the pretty frequent "Can I do this?" exhaustion thoughts that EVERY good teacher I know has -- but those who just know that they hate children and don't like to teach.

I tell my students that although not everyone makes an "A" but that they are all "A" people. Every person is born an "A" as a person -- and you are the same way. You may not be an "A" teacher but you are an "A" person. Your job is to find the job that lets you use your talents best.

I cringe to write this because far too many very good, called teachers have left, not because of the teaching or students but because of screwed up administration, chaotic curriculum decisions, and a political climate that has politicized education beyond what is healthy. You all need to stay in the game or come back - you know you love to teach - you just need to find the place where you can do it.

But if you hate kids -- you shouldn't teach. That's all we do, children. And if you want to last in your legacy, working with them but hating them underneath it all, won't build one - it will just build a legacy of hurt and pain and make everyone, including you, miserable in the process.


For me, I have to mention that, without the first and the last - the Alpha and Omega - Jesus Christ - I wouldn't even be writing these words. I've just had my 7th blog-birthday. I was called to write just as clear as I call my kids to dinner every night.

It is an honor to serve and write for you -- I know many of you differ with me here and there in your beliefs and that often I have typos and misspeak - for in many words there is much foolishness and I certainly type wayyyyy too many words sometimes. But you read anyway, thank you. I don't deserve your grace but am grateful for it.

Yet, as I write for you, I have an honest, genuine caring for you, the reader, who made it this far in this blog post. That somehow some of you who are struggling to make sense of why you'd want to even be in a profession that demands so much -- that you'll know how important your work is and how unique you are to be the kind of person who can do this. I always wonder what this generation will rise up and say in 20 years about our generation of educators. Did we do things that will help our society last and improve into the future?

I don't ever wonder if teaching is worth it. Sometimes I wonder if blogging is worth it. For the most part, there are many great positives of blogging. But when you're someone like me -- a person who watches people and really ponders things deeply and also an exhausted Mom and teacher who works 18 hour days far more than I should - when I get these drive by commenters or emailers intent on "setting me straight" or "fixing me," it is hard. My pastor, Michael Catt (@michaelcatt) does a great job of just unfollowing and tuning out haters and I need to do that better, but I still don't yet. I ponder and ask myself if there is a bit of truth in the criticism and have to work through it deeply until I come through with an answer. More often than not, I realize that an element of truth is in the criticism but I have to reject their assertions that I'm a worthless person and shouldn't be writing. This is what I'm called to do, and here I am - 7 years into it and not planning to stop no matter those who have told me to. I have to wonder the life that some people live who have the need to act ugly to a stranger.

By now, you're thinking this blog post is going to LAST forever. But I guess once every year, I'm allowed to write a bit about these things. ;-)

Last thought for you...

What have you done or will you do today that will last past the end of your life?

If you don't like your answer...do something about it.


- Written on my iPad using Blog Press by Vicki Davis, author, Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds
Enhanced by Zemanta
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Disqus Comments for Cool Cat Teacher Blog