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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Gamification! Let's make learning fun again

Gamification  is not a new concept, it's just that in 2017 we have moved it to online or via AR/VR/VLE. (Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Virtual Learning Experiences)

Ones I assume you all know about already, but if not you should.




Bwahahaha is all I can say but great way to get instant feedback on a meeting/presentation if you’re brave enough =

Math for grades 1-8


Free & I’ve had the most success with today experimenting: = allows you to create different games like the anatomy of grass I just made for Dr. Lane, you can only put in the link to it = you can create games like word search, cross word, etc… that they can play on the PC & embed into the course


Just to make a game for the heck of it, think old school arcade style, I know teachers who use this in their game design classes they teach:

Good resource but not very sophisticated looking games when done =


Require you download software to create games. I’ve only seen tweets that they are good for teaching gaming:
Adventure Game Studio  =

Game Salad =

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Nexters, Millennials, & Digital Natives "Oh My!"

      Do you find that your students are bored or fall asleep when you show a traditional slide presentation that you spent hours working on? The generations sitting in your classrooms now need more than a traditional slide presentation to keep them engaged. They need it to be interactive and to have an active roll in the process of the learning and/or presentation. After all they are wired into technology or some form of entertainment 24/7, so we've got to get and keep their short attention spans.

      To do that when starting off on a new unit try a free gamifcation. To learn more about gamifaction please see this article by Edutopia "Gamifaction in Education".  I like to use the free web 2.0 tool Kahoot. I like it because it doesn't require special software, students can access the game questions, that in my class we call "Unit Pre-Challenges". They can access the game from any device that has internet access via the  I use this when starting a new unit and I offer the "top 10" bonus points for the unit based on how well they do.  I can also download the data I get from it to see where the students strengths and/or weaknesses are for the unit. Then I can adjust the rest of the unit based on this.

      I also use a free presentation web 2.0 tool when I am introducing a new unit like Emaze or Prezi for Education. There are many more out there, just do a web search and you'll be amazed at what is available.  Use whatever tool works best for you and your students. Today's students they see a traditional slide presentation as the abridge version of the text book and this is all the need to focus on. Heck often it is the textbook because few class have access to digital or traditional textbook as it is. What I do is create "Jeopardy" game that we play in class as teams or a bingo sheet.  I will give them a sheet that is customized to that unit. Usually it will have either the terms, definitions, or even image of the content we are covering. They will then have to fill out this sheet, it will serve as their notes and future study guide for an end of unit assessment, if I should go that route. I only give "tests" on small or simple units. I actually prefer on major units to have them work in teams of 2-3 on a project that they present at the end of the unit.

     Now if you are teaching at the secondary level you don't have to worry about the "clash of generations" in your classroom. Except in how your generation, is different than the generation you have sitting in your classroom. Those of you who teach post-secondary have to worry potentially about all five (5) generations that could be in your classroom. To make it easier for you to reference I have create a generations matrix that you can view below in PDF format. The reason you need to be able to recognize the different types is because they each have their own way of learning best.  There is no getting around the fact that you learn best based upon the toys they played with growing up, teaching tools that were new or innovative for their time, and any major social influences from their youth. I will often show this matrix in class and we will discuss it, it helps students and myself to realize what the learning needs are for everyone in the class.

     A great video I like to show at the start of a new semester is "Generation C (Gen Z)" by Geoff Belleau.  I will show this and the we have an open discussion on is what he says true? How do you learn best?  How can we customize learning so it helps everyone? Etc...  We dedicate at least 45 minutes to this alone. This gets the students thinking about and more invested in the actual learning process, versus me standing there telling them you will learn XYZ today.  I will often ask them how do their parents react to new technology versus how they do.  Then I ask why do they think it's this way.  Anything to get them thinking about how we all work together.

      Yes classrooms and students are way different now! Actually thank goodness they are different because they old sit in desk , in these rows is actually a model that was created to educate factory workers.  Now a days that is not a skill that most employers want, they need problem solvers, team players, and work ethic not "drone workers". The sky is the limit for your students and your classes! You really can do amazing things in your classes if you just meet the different generations in your classes, at least half way. No your not crazy, your students really are "from a different planet", or the the least a different learning style than what you know and love.

      So please take the time to get to know your students and their learning styles.  You can then work together to make sure they learn your content and don't just "pass your class". After all we love our content and think it's "awesome sauce" and we want everyone to think the same, or we wouldn't be teaching it would we.  Even Bloom's Taxonomy has evolved to meet the needs of the new generations, if that can then so can you.

Links to:

Monday, September 29, 2014

Blended Learning

       Have you been hearing all the talk about this "new instructional method" called "Blended Learning"?  What about being asked all the time "have you flipped" your class?  Have you been told you will do this by your school administration, but nobody has explained to you how to do it?

       I've seen both experienced and new teachers both get the "OMG I'm going to blow if they tell me I need to learn one more new technology tool on my own. Grrrrrrr"  Usually accompanied by other not so scholarly words. 

         You will find many different definitions of what "blended learning" is if you Google it.  I like the definition that I found in the Edutpoia article"Blended Learning: We Are All New Teachers". It cites that there are many definitions of blended learning to be sure, but for our purposes let's take the definition of blended learning from Innosight Institute which defines blended learning as: a formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online delivery of content and instruction with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace and at least in part at a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home. The institute even goes on to say: there are four models of blended learning that categorize the majority of blended-learning programs emerging across the K-12 sector today. These four models are: Rotation, Flex, Self-Blend, and Enriched Virtual. (Not a perfect definition by any means, but one that gives us food for thought.)

       Wow, what a mouthful and a lot to digest and think about! Don't panic, essentially what they are saying is that the teacher and student uses multiple methods to deliver the education. Some by online, some by face to face, some by independent research, some of the pace of delivery is set by the teacher or school, and some is set by the student. Essentially it means you use technology to help meet all of your students learning needs.  It's just a more technology based version of "doing whatever it takes" to teach your students.

       In all of my research I yet to find anything better than Math Johnston's "What a Flipped classroom is not" that you can find on his YouTube channel. He explains this concept is easy to understand terms for you, students, parents, and administrators.

      The trick to successfully blending your class so that you "FLIP not FLOP" it is to find what works best for YOU and YOUR students.  There is no one way to do it or just one magic tool that works for everyone. Don't be afraid to try new things. Do NOT think that you have to use "experts videos" because they know more than you do.  Believe it or not, your students actually pay more attention and learn more from your "unprofessional" videos. 

        Also, you do NOT have to be the expert on the tools, you are already the expert on your content area. Have fun and allow your student to try new things. We learn more from fail at the first time, than what we get right the first time.  Just tell them up front "We are doing this unit over XYZ.  You will be excepted create XYZ, refer to the rubric I have given you. you will be allowed to use whatever tool you want to create it, just show it to me and explain why you want to use it.  But be forewarned I am not an expert in that tool and you will now become the class expert on it".  

      I promise you the time to spend to blend or flip your class will come back to you 5 fold at least.  I blended/flipped my classes over 10 years ago before there was an official term to call it.  I did it so I could best serve my students, after all there are 20-30 of them and only one of me.  With my instructional websites and videos, the students are able to get help with a step when they need it and work at his/her own pace. Kids love it, administration love it, parents love it, I love it because I never have to explain what it is that were are doing or learning in my class.  It's right there for everyone to see. 

      Feel free to borrow any of my units or lessons. I purposely made everything public for you to use.  :)  Let me know if they help you and have FUN blending/flipping your class.  

My Some Cool Web 2.0 Tools Blog
My Going Green Project Based Learning Site from the CTE Summer 2014 Conf.

Work Cited:
  • Website Title: YouTube
  • Article Title: mathjohnson
  • Publisher: YouTube
  • Date Accessed: September 29, 2014
Website Title: Edutopia
  • Article Title: Blended Learning: We Are All New Teachers
  • Date Accessed: September 29, 2014

Thursday, May 1, 2014

1st EVER CHS Lip Dub 2014

Our First Conroe HS Lip Dub!!

We're going viral! We are doing our first CHS Lip Dub to the song "Best Day of My Life" by American Authors.  I'm sooooooooo excited that my campus is finally doing a lip dub. This has been a dream of mine and a couple of other staff members to do for over three years now.

NOTE: If you don't know what a "lip dub" is = "Google" or "YouTube" it. There are lots of awesome and not so awesome ones out there.  We did a "twist" to ours, it's not just the same old walk down halls singing.  :)

It's easy to find the videos, but not the explanation of how they went about creating it. Thus, the reason the post was born.

The MOST important thing you need to do when you want to do something like this is = TEAMWORK! We have core team of 16 staff members who have helped with all the different parts. No one person can do it all. You have to work together!  Here is our awesome TEAM and what we all did, to help make it a success. Let the people who are awesome at what they do = do what they do best. Why would I try to plan the formation of the band kids to spell out "PRIDE !" on the field?  Our band directors know how to do way more cool and complicated filed formations. I have no clue how to actually video and make the scenes look cool, but others do.  You sure don't want me trying to teach you how to sing or dance either.

The other thing you need to do is to use Social Media to your advantage!  Our campus Twitter acct., ISD acct., & counselors acct. sent Twitter tweets out bi-weekly telling students to go sign up to be a part of our video. Our campus FB page also posted links and encouraged people to join. Of course our Conroe HS campus website promoted too on our main splash page. 
My areas of expertise is Organization, Communication, & Technology. So here is what I did to help get this organized and out there online. That way the kids and staff could all access info, without us having to send emails daily and use up the email memory. (A personal pet peeve of mine.)

#1 = Set-up a Google Drive folder that anyone can see
A. Share edit rights with only the core group of organizers
B. Create a planning calender using Google Docs, so everyone can see the dates
(You know how we educators LOVE calenders!)  
C. Check ours out  to get ideas for how organize yours
D. Yes you can put videos here (if your ISD doesn't have that blocked in the admin  console) and use it to share the choreography steps if your ISD has YouTube blocked.  
(BOOO!! Unblock it for secondary at least people.)

#2= Use Google Forms to create a online Sign Up form
A. This is so we can plan and prepare for the # of kids being filmed
B. If you send an email from Gmail = you can send it "Bcc" to all the email addresses   
you get from the sign up form. To remind kids when to film, what to wear, bring your signed release form, etc...
C. SECURITY NOTE = make sure that you turn off "Share with anyone who has the  link" for the Google Form results. Only three of us have access to our data.
D. Don't forget to "turn off" accepting responses to the form, once your due date has passed.

A. Create one that breaks out the lyrics that need to be learned by group
B. You can upload dance choreography to YouTube and embed it into this site
C. Then just share this site with staff and students. This is how kids and parents want 
to  be able to access information. So why not give it to them the way they understand and want it?

#4= Use YouTube to "go viral".
A. Make sure you have gotten written permission from the author of the song to use it. 
We had to get this from both the author AND the publisher. We have email proof  that we can use our song. Be forewarned, getting this permission took us two months!  YouTube can and will pull audio from videos, if you can't prove this.
B. When your Rock Star filming team gets done filming and editing post the final product on YouTube. I will share ours as soon as it gets done.
C. SECURITY NOTE = only one person on your campus should keep the original finished video. We have an AP who will keep ours, part of the agreement we have to be able to use the song.

I hope this helps or inspires your campus to go out and "go viral" in a positive way. Let me know how it goes for you.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Cool New (and some not so new) Web 2.0 Tools that can help you "flip" your classroom.

 Are you looking for new tools for your "tool bag"? Do you want to "flip" your classroom but have no idea what tools can help you do this? Then the following tools are for you! Let me know if these help or if you have any others I can add. Enjoy! 

Multimedia Presentations and Videos: 
Prezi: Prezi’s zooming canvas opens up the classroom to active learning and interactivity, making lessons understandable, memorable, and fun. 
Emaze:  emaze is the next generation of online presentations, empowering you to create an amazing impression through design and technology. all you need to do is choose one of our templates to begin creating an amazing presentation. because there is no second chance to make a first impression.
BrainShark: Online presentations with videos, voiceover, and transitions 
Slideshare: Besides presentations, SlideShare also supports documents, PDFs, videos and webinars. 
Screencast-o-matic:  you can use the free version or pay $15 yearly. Easy to save to your computer the video, upload staright to YouTube, or their server.
Present.Me: Screenr: 100% web based screen recording and sharing. 
Animoto: The easy way to create and share extraordinary videos of your life. Our online video maker turns your photos, video clips and music into video in minutes. 
YouTube: Share your videos with friends, family, and the world. 
WeVideo: Online video creation platform, providing editing, collaboration, and sharing capabilities across any device. 
Jing: Free capture anything you see on your computer screen, as an image or short video, and lets you share it instantly 
Camtasia: Professional capture anything you see on your computer screen, as an image or short video, and lets you share it. 
Tellagami (APP):
aTube Catcher: create & download video
PodBean: Free podcast hosting  
Khan Academy:

Kahoot: Teacher =  &  Student =
Classcraft:  a free online educational role playing game (RPG) that teachers and students play together in the classroom.
Scratch: Teach basic programing, create games, stories, etc...

Words/Writing/Vocabulary Tools:
Tagxedo: Turn famous speeches, news articles, slogans and themes, even your love letters -- into a visually stunning word cloud, words individually sized appropriately to highlight the frequencies of occurrence within the body of text. 
Wordle: A "toy" for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide.
Flip Snack publish captivating online magazines, turn PDF's into online flip books
StoryJumper: Create your own story book and bring it to life
ReadWriteThink Lots of classroom resources, my favorite is the Cube Creator 
Bitstrips (APP): Create cartoons of yourself, friends,etc
Storybird: Create your own stories with images and share them
Study Ladder: Create educational problems to help your students learn
Word Magnets:  create sentences, words, etc...
Scratch: Teach basic programing, create games, stories, etc...
Blabberize: Make your images talk
Voki: Get your own avatar and even have it talk with your voice

Communication Tools: 
Google Docs/Drive: Web-based word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, etc..... 
Remind 101: Safe one way text messaging updates for students, parents, and community. 
Celly: Celly is an easy way for teachers, coaches and administrators to communicate with students and parents; Send school wide alerts and updates to parents about classroom events; Schedule reminders about parents and friends; Use polls and surveys to keep students engaged. 
Dispatch: The end of "reply-all" chains. Dispatches are intelligent group email addresses for your projects. No more noise. No more hassle. 
Socrative: Multi platform/devices student response system Poll Everywhere: Real-time polling for mobile devices, web, and presentations. 
Survey Monkey: Website surveys 
Youblisher: Turn your documents into online publication with "flappable" pages 
Padlet online board to share ideas
Real Time Board: create online brainstorming "white" boards
Mail Chimp: Dynamic and interactive email distribution, think creating your own list serve 
Infuse Learning: 

Website/Wiki Creating: 
Google Sites: A free and easy way to create and share webpages. 
Blogger: Since Blogger was launched in 1999, blogs have reshaped the web, impacted politics, shaken up journalism, and enabled millions of people to have a voice and connect with others. 
Edublogs: Safe, secure & easy to use. Used for e-portfolios, class sites & much more... Trusted by over 2million educators since 2005. Weebly: Easily create a classroom website & blog Manage your students' accounts; Accept homework assignments online; Keep your parents up to date. 
Smore Pages: Create online one page flyers websites. SnapPages: An easy way to create an online website. Now anyone can build and manage a professional quality website with drag-and-drop simplicity. 
Wix: Create a free flash or HTML5 website with Customize with Wix' website builder, no coding skills needed. Choose a design, begin customizing and be online today. 
Wibki: A personal visual bookmarking service with a social twist.

Open Source Photo's: 
Flickr: A online photo management and sharing application in the world. Show off your favorite photos and videos to the world, and securely. 
Free Tiiu Pix: Free photographs for students & teachers with no gimmicks, hidden fees or registration required 
Creative Commons: A nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools. 
Everystockphoto: A. search engine for free photos. These come from many sources and are license-specific. You can view a photo's license by clicking on the license icon, below and left of photos. Membership is free and allows you to rate, tag, collect and comment on photos. 

Online File Share For Team Projects: 
Google Docs: 
Live Binders:

Misc:   Free application to brainstorm online
Online-Convert: Convert anything (audio, video, etxt, PDF, etc..)
Web 2.0: Cool Tools for Schools:
Pintrest Web 2.0:
Web 2.0 Guro:

Last updated September 29, 2014

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Learning terms, concepts, vocabulary can be FUN!

We all have run into a curriculum unit that was complicated or just not fun to teach. How about that kid who just won't do the research paper, brochure, or Power Pt that you assign. After all your giving them options on how to deliver it.... right? That's RTI or differentiated instruction.... right?

You want them to get up and present the material they learned (sometimes we pray that they learned) and find out the kid just will not get up in front of the class to speak. No matter who much he speaks in class, sometimes when you are speaking or when he should just be working.

Ok so what can you do to make it more interesting or FUN? Try using multimedia videos like GoAnimate, Animoto, Voiki, or document camera avatars. Here is how I used them to make Biotechnology more interesting and entertaining for them and me. Watching videos and discussing the grades earned according to the rubric I give. This is WAY more fun than me taking home reports, etc... to grade all on my own.

What do you need?

1-Well one a grading rubric for the students so that they know what you are expecting and what do they have to do to get the "A", "B", etc.... This takes away the whole guessing game and "why did you give me....." conversations. I show mine all at once and we grade them together based off of this rubric.

2-Computers with internet access and microphones. I use $7.00 dollar combo headphones a mics that I get from my ISD's warehouse. I've used dollar store ones before and they worked fine. One year I even bought 4 of the really nice $10.00 ones that they kids shared.

3-A working email that they remember and can access. I find using non district issued works best, because often our filter blocks even these sites. They need it for college and scholarship applications anyways. Just make sure they remember it or write it down for you, because someone always forgets. That's why I have the option of using my document camera, for those kids. I even allow them to use Photostory or Movie Maker if they prefer. I want them comfortable and producing, so the media doesn't matter, just the content.

4-GoAnimate = just set up your account and follow the online examples. Its truly a drag, drop, and type program.

5-Animoto = usually limits you to 30 seconds unless you setup a education account and get a code from them. Then make sure they use your code when they sign up. It needs images and music to create.

6-Voiki= just set up your account and follow the online examples. Its truly a drag, drop, and type OR speak using microphones program. If you use the type method, you can even use different languages!

7- Document Camera = I limit them to 20 mins use time with it. They have to tell me exactly what they plan on doing before they get to pick an avatar that comes with the software and film it.