Saturday, December 22, 2012

Computer Curriculum

Recently I was given the task to create our elementary and middle school computer and technology curriculum so it is integrated with the regular classrooms and helps align to Common Core.  This is an overwhelming task!  I need your help!  Please take a moment and fill out the form below.

Once you've finished the form, check out the results here.  Thank you so very much for your help!  Let me know how I can help you!

Monday, December 10, 2012

No Homework? Really?!?

"I show you how much I love by how much homework I give you," I said. "And I love you a whole lot!"

Those are words I've said over and over and over to students and parents.  I can give you numerous reasons why I think it's a good idea for kids to take homework home.  In fact, let me list a few.  (NOTE: You'll notice that some of these are not exactly educationally sound but I'm just going to be honest here and show you some of my bad teacher cards too.)

  • Growth comes from struggle.
  • Practice makes perfect.
  • Parents know what students are learning when work comes home.
  • Students have something to do during study hall. (See! I'm honest!)
  • We ran out of time in class.
  • It's a good discipline technique.
  • It prepares kids for middle school, high school, college, real life...
  • Everyone since the beginning of time has had homework.
Maybe you agreed with my list.  Maybe you didn't.  Maybe you could add fifteen more reasons. Regardless, I feel a change coming over me.

This school year is a different year for me for numerous reasons. I have a decreased teaching load to make time for technology research.  Half of my classes are advanced math classes. I don't have language arts for the first time ever. I'm recovering from a nasty neurological disorder which leaves me with lots of muscle irritation and little energy.  

I find myself giving the kids very little homework, which is odd for me. It didn't start as an ideological change.  It was more circumstantial.  The advanced math kids tend to need less instruction time and get work done more quickly.  I'm used to history class being 25-30 minutes like it was in my old school, but it's 55 minutes here.  This means that kids can get things done in class. I just don't have the energy to grade a lot, so I don't assign as much. I'm still giving a fair amount of work, but the kids are doing it here. 

And, I'm feeling less stress -- from the kids, from the parents, and from me.  

I have my own version of a flipped classroom.  I used to teach for 40 minutes and give 15 minutes to get started on homework (if that).  Now, I teach for about 5 minutes and give 50 minutes to get the work done.  This is marvelous!  Not only does virtually every student get everything done before the end of the period, but I get to conference with each student as I grade work on the spot and have the ability to teach focused, personalized mini-lessons if needed.

One of my favorite bloggers is John Spencer over at Education Rethink. John isn't afraid to think idealistically and expect that things can still be that way.  He's not afraid to admit his struggles.  And he's not afraid to call the rest of us on the carpet on a number of issues. I may not agree with everything he says, but he makes me think about why I do what I do.

If you spend any time reading that blog, you'll realize that Mr. Spencer doesn't assign homework.  He decided he would rather spend his time playing with his kids and his kids would rather be playing with Dad.  He realized that his students' families probably feel the same way, so he's abolished homework in his class. Here are his 10 reasons to get rid of homework.  In fact, he even has a spreadsheet of teachers who have abolished homework completely.

While all these thoughts are swimming in my mind, the news hit our teachers' lounge that the state of Maryland abolished all homework.  (It turns out that only one elementary school in Maryland did this -- in favor of 30 minutes of reading per night -- but that really isn't the point.) My colleagues -- whom I respect and think are excellent educators -- acted as if this was the beginning of the end of education.  I just sat there and thought that it was a cool idea and couldn't wait to see how it plays out.

I have not signed the no-homework spreadsheet, but I'm thinking about it.  This post serves as my method for thinking out loud.  Help me out here.  What am I missing?

Ditch the Homework List!

  1. Decreased stress for everyone involved: students, parents, teachers
  2. Less divisiveness.  We are all working on the same team. It's hard to see that through the haze of homework.
  3. Kids need to be kids. If they are bogged down with homework, they have less play time.
  4. Parents have the ability to take back control of their home and how they raise their kids. 
  5. Parents are not at odds with their kids to get it done. 
Keep the Homework List!
  1. Parents feel more connected with student learning when they know what's going on at school.
  2. What happens if/when I get assigned another language arts class which involves a lot more reading, writing, editing, and rewriting?
  3. Just when you say, "I'll never..." an exception will come along and make me eat my words. 
  4. How do you define homework? This is going to need subpoints.
  • Is studying for a test homework?
  • Getting supplies for an experiment or research project?
  • What do we do with assignments not finished in class?
  • What about long-term projects and reports?
So, I'm dying to know.  Where do you fall in the conversation?  What are your thoughts?  

Confessions of a Bad Hurdler

I had a dream of running the steeplechase on my college track team.  I asked our coach, and he was agreeable to it, provided I figured it out myself.  You see, our college was so small we rented a high school track for practices. We really were a rag-tag group of non-runners trying to get into shape before summer break with only one coach.  The same man was my cross country coach and I'm sure he figured I couldn't do anything goofier than he saw in the fall.

So... I set out to teach myself how to steeplechase.  The first goal, learn how to hurdle. I called my high school coach, who agreed to help.  My roommate and I drove spent a Saturday morning at my high school where we learned the fundamentals of hurdling.

What happened is that I never once ran steeplechase.  My winter blubber never dissolved during the track season so that I felt comfortable running roughly two miles while jumping over obstacles.

I did however reach ROCK STAR status on my track team. I was a hurdler!  I ran in the 110 high hurdles and the 400 intermediate hurdles.  And I was bad.  Not only did I never win, but I'm not so sure that I beat anybody in any race I ran.  I was an out of shape distance runner trying to run sprint events...but my teammates thought I was a big thing.

I took a chance.  I learned a new skill.  I did something the other people around me were too intimidated to try.  To the others, it didn't matter that I was good or bad but that I took that risk.

Looking back at my technology journey the past couple decades, I see some similarities. You see, when I started teaching, I hand-wrote my own tests. Over the years, computers began to creep into my classroom, till I realized I had technology and had no idea how to use it.  That led to my Masters' thesis on the topic of technology integration (published in 2002).  From then on, I've been something of a tech integrator, but things really changed when I started teaching at a different school that had just rolled out iPads.  I responded to an email asking how we were using our iPads in class.  My list -- verbatim -- made it into a Head of School email sent to the whole school, and I instantly became known as the iPad specialist.

You can look at a hurdle and decide to either jump over it or not.  Same thing with an iPad or a computer. Use it or don't use it.  Those who do choose to jump over the hurdle are revered by those who don't (and frankly, are probably looked at as a bit nutty).  Those who chose to learn how to use the iPad and integrate it into lessons are looked as something special.  Why? Because we took the time to learn how to do something the other people didn't want to learn.

There are days I don't feel like I'm doing anything special.  I can still be a lazy teacher at times, but a lazy teacher who uses a cool tool with the kids.  There are days when teachers ask me for a special lesson idea.  I'm more than happy to help out.  I do a Google search, skim off the top 5 results, email it off, and look like I did something great.

What makes a great teacher is not the tools they use but how they use them.

I was a hurdler at one point in my life, but I was slow, out of shape, and really bad.  Wouldn't it have been cool if I went into my hurdling career at my best performance weight and really tried to learn the craft well?  Then again, it would be really cool if I attacked every day of teaching with the same intensity that an Olympic hurdler attacks the first hurdle of the gold medal race. THAT'S what makes a teacher worth remembering!

Maybe one day I'll tell you about my triple jump experience!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


If had been smarter, I could have been involved from the the very beginning.  But I chose to sit and watch instead.  Last spring, Eric Simons reached out to me to ask me about teacher collaboration.  I answered a few questions and let him do his thing.  Maybe I didn't understand what he was trying to do. Maybe I was too busy trying not to drown in the end of the year festivities.  At any rate, I didn't get involved till just recently.

Back in the spring, it was Classroom Connect.  Now, the name has been shortened to Claco, but the concept remains the same: Give the teachers a chance to collaborate and learn from each other.  Sure, we can do that in a variety of methods, but here is a centralized location where we can all meet and swap ideas. Think of it as the teachers' lounge, but without the fattening pumpkin bread and stale coffee.  I'll leave it to other people to expound on the founding of the web site.  Instead, I'll focus on my use of it the last few days. 

Claco is still in its beta format, but I was fortunate enough to start up this fall.  I spent the last couple days sick at home and was finally able to take the time to sit down and look at the genius of this site.

I've never been on Pinterest, but from what I've heard of that crafting idea site, Claco has a similar feel. You post ideas or sites that work for you on your personal page.  However, that page is visible to all others on the site.  Your online colleagues have the chance to come along and find your posts and "snap" them to their page as well.  

So far, I'm using this site as a chance to organize myself.  If I find a site I like, I bookmark it and move on.  I may or may  not come back to it later, but when I try to find a bookmarked site, I have to wade through a ton of stuff to find it.  "What was THAT site for?"  After an hour or two of work, my bookmarks are now cleared out.  I'm using Claco to hold them for me. 

Next, I'm going through and posting iPad apps that work for my classroom.  This will help me decide which ones are really worthy of sharing with the public.   I'm also rooting through my Google Docs finding lessons and activities that I've done.  

Obviously, I blog because I want to share what I'm learning with the larger community.  Claco is going to help me keep do that in a more organized fashion.  If you want to see what I'm doing in math class, you may find it on this blog, but it will take some searching.  Claco will make it easier for you to steal... I mean, borrow.. from me. 

I'm having fun with this.  Since I can create portfolios on any topic I want, I'm not just doing my content areas, but I've also included Common Core, Educational Technology, Social Media, Apps I Use, and plan to add a Bio portfolio.  In addition to useful web sites and Google Docs, I can also direct you to people who have influenced me and helped me in my learning journey.

And I haven't even started visiting other people's pages to see what I can learn from them!  I envision myself sitting at my desk one Friday trying to come up with a lesson idea, skipping over to Claco and a digital colleague to find the perfect tool to help me teach that hard to learn lesson. And I don't think I need to tell that this is a very good thing.

So, I suggest you visit Claco, sign up for the beta program, subscribe to my portfolio, and start organizing your content and collaborating with us! While you're there, zip me a message and say hi!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Yummy Math and the Election

Common Core.
Yummy Math.
Electoral College.
Conservative Christian School.

What do these all have in common?

I teach at a private Christian school in a battleground state.  While I don't know for sure, I would venture a guess that 90 percent of our school voted for Mitt Romney in the recent election... if the general somber mood around here the last few days is any indicator.

We, like most other schools in the country, are pushing toward alignment with Common Core standards, which has consumed much of my focus the last couple weeks.

I still love educational technology. In my blog reading, I recently stumbled upon Yummy Math, which is a blog which attempts to teach math in a fun, interactive way.  The best thing about it is that nearly every lesson  has the Common Core standards that it meets listed at the bottom. Hmmm... Math. Fun. Technology. Common Core without thinking too hard.  What's not to love?

Digging deeper, I saw a lesson on the electoral college, and I knew that this was the place to start my math yumminess. I started Monday morning with my 5th and 6th graders in the computer lab, where we watched the electoral college video by New York Times then dug into the questions provided by Yummy Math.  Now, you need to realize that I teach advanced math, and many of these kids are used to things just clicking for them.  They don't need to try to understand stuff; it comes naturally.  So, a number of these kids struggled with getting started.  I was amazed at what they didn't know about senators and representatives.  Then it hit me that they would have no reason to know it since they probably haven't had a civics course yet. We did discover that Google helps considerably when researching a topic we don't know.

Once we got past the initial hurdle of figuring out the changes in representatives and electoral college votes, things went smoothly.  In all, it took about a period and a half for most kids to finish the activity.

Tuesday, I gave the students a blank electoral college map to color that evening. I encouraged parents to allow their kids to stay up late and color the maps in as the night proceeded.  In exchange, I made math class the next day a "blow off" day allowing books and iPads with no formal teaching.

As I said early in the post, we are largely Republican around here. That lead to some interesting conversations come Wednesday morning.  The good news is that we already laid the groundwork by discussing electoral college and how the entire process works.  Later in the day, a student who did not do this activity with me looked at all the red on the map and couldn't understand how Romney lost.  He didn't have the electoral background that the other kids did.

Overall, I give two thumbs up to Yummy Math for helping me teach a difficult concept.  Thanks!  I'll be using your yumminess again soon.

Oh, and Brian Marks at Yummy Math makes for a great Twitter conversationalist.  You know how I love to interact with the developers!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Epic Full-Length Stop Animator Project

In my seventeen years of teaching sixth grade, I can honestly say it's rare to see every student engaged, enjoying a lesson, and learning something.  That's why I'm so excited about the Epic Full-Length Stop Animator Project.

The goal of our project is to create a 90-180 second stop animation video.  A few weeks ago, we did a short video project, and the kids enjoyed it.  While the video-making process was fun, the final product left me wondering if we could do better.  I enlisted the help of a friend of mine who is an animation guru (media professor at a local university) and got started on creating a great project.  You can see our instructions here.

Today was the second day of the project, and the kids were merely planning.  They were working on storyboards, drawing on the white board, trying new camera angles, and figuring things out.  It was so cool to just look out over the class and see every student working, interacting, and...enjoying it.  The plans are diverse: clay, Legos, ants in love eating watermelon, construction paper sandwiches, poodles in Paris, and an action figure-eating toy.

Next week, they will do their actual filming, but I had to share this one short practice video of the creation of Clay Man.

This is going to be cool!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Math Book Monday!

A few weeks ago, I started reading a math story to my 5th and 6th grade math classes.  This is my first year since I started teaching in 1994 that I don't have any language arts classes.  I think this is a way to keep my inner reading teacher happy.  Little did I know that we would have a huge Common Core Standards realignment this year, with one major focus of language arts across the curriculum.  Math Book Monday, coupled with Kid Blog, is really helping to get ahead of that change.

I think the kids are liking it.  We've read four books so far (listed below).  Some are a bit hokey, some are funny.  Some are directed toward a younger age.  All of them are teaching math concepts, which is a good thing.

I started compiling my list from on this blog post and by asking friends on Facebook.  Slowly a small list started, then I emailed my local library.  Fortunately, my local library is the Cincinnati Public Library.  A bigger city library, means more resources.  My list is starting to grow, and I'll be happy to continue to share that list here.  I wouldn't mind if you added your thoughts, comments, and suggestions on the document. (Ironically, some of these books were recommended to me by a former student who is studying to be a math teacher.)

Later this week, I am heading back to the library for another armful of books.  I can't wait for Round 2!

Math Curse

Sir Cumference and the Sword in the Cone

Sir Cumference and the First Round Table

How Much is a Million?

Educreations and a Parent Email

This morning, I had a student come in early to work on long division.  We spent about 15 minutes together, and I think I was able to help her figure out her problems.  However, I could tell that she still had a lingering doubt that she had mastered the skill. In my followup email to her parents, I struggled with how to put her mistake into words.  Then, it dawned on me -- EDUCREATIONS!  I was able to create a video and link it to my email in mere minutes. I hope it can help the parents understand the long division issues better.

Feel free to watch the video here.

How do you use Educreations to help make your job easier?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

LIKE us on Facebook!

I need your help getting a project moving forward.  Can you please check out our new Facebook page and click the LIKE button?  You'll get to see all the cool things we do at MVCA.  Thanks!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Native American StoryKit Projects

Our 5th grade history curriculum takes us through the entire history of the United States of America. Yes, you read that right. We start with a unit on geography, climate, and such. Then we delve into Native Americans. From there... It's Christopher Columbus to Barack Obama. In one year. As you can imagine, we can't stop on one topic for very long. I gave the students a research project for the Native American unit. Instead of a stuffy report or oral presentation, we went with StoryKits.

StoryKit is an iPhone app that simulates creating an eBook. Students can load text, pictures, and audio on each page.  It has more of an eBook feel on the actual iPad it was created on.  What you'll see on the links below will be more of a checkerboard of pages.  You just have to imagine it with me.  With my Apple TV and projector, students can show their projects to their classmates.

Here are some great examples.

How are you using StoryKit in your classroom?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Stop Motion Videos

Lesson ideas can come from a strange place.  I work with 5th graders at my church, which is where I met Billy (name changed).  Within seconds of meeting Billy, he was showing me stop motion videos on his iPod Touch. I immediately saw an opportunity to make a connection, so I whipped out my iPad, downloaded the Stop Aminator app and had myself some fun.

Little did I realize that I'd be using it in my 6th grade computer class a week and a half later.  I'm going to present you with four videos here.  The first is an example for the kids to see.  The middle two were made by students.  The last -- the chair video -- was an attempt I made while the kids were playing around.  I'll be the first to admit that our first efforts at stop motion videos needs some help, but I'm excited to try it again later.  I'd love to do a "feature-length" video -- say one to two minutes long.  

The best part is that I now have students in 5th and 6th grades who are excited to get iPad time so they can create more videos.  

Enjoy our first attempts!

Tech for Primary Schools

I was asked by my principal to put on my parent hat for a moment and consider what the perfect Kindergarten or first grade room would look like for my daughter, technologically speaking.  My daughter is three and a half and is currently enrolled in public school preschool.  The plan is to keep her there through Kindergarten when her speech IEP will be reviewed.  Hopefully, we'll have her in my private school for first grade.  So, my quest for the perfect technology-centered primary class is well-placed.

I fear that my answer will be a bit of a surprise.


Don’t overdo the tech in the lower grades.  I know my research is 10+ years old, but I read an interesting book for my thesis entitled Failure to Connect.  Since I know you’ll never read it, I’ll just give you my big takeaway.  Technology can be damaging to young minds.  They think concretely.  Technology is abstract. The letters I’m typing now don’t really exist, except in pixel form.  I tap a picture and something happens, but not really.  It can be confusing to a kid who thinks in the concrete stage.  (Sounds like Piaget, but I’m not sure of all the stages.)

Ava has a LeapPad and uses my iPad on occasion. I have apps on the iPad for her, and we do them together.  We’re not anti- technology in our house. We use Skype and watch YouTube videos.  However, with the exception of the LeapPad, she does it all with parent supervision.  AND it’s limited.  She gets maybe an hour of screen time in a day (and that’s a stretch), unless she’s getting some at school. 

As a parent, I’d be most happy if the technology for the little tikes was present but peripheral.  I would want the software/apps to be selected carefully with a specific goal in mind.  I would want to know that the screen time is limited.  I’d be more happy to know that she’s being stretched to think deeply using the harder Bloom levels.  I’d be looking at 2nd and 3rd grade to see the technology really start to fly.  I’d want to know that she’s learning how to use the Internet safely and that online security was important.  I’d like to see her blogging and using web tools to create art… but I’d want her to get her hands dirty with graphite and ink and paint and colored markers.

I’m sure that’s not the answer you were looking for, but I really believe that a kid has to learn to use hands to do something physical before she learns to use her fingers to do something digital.
So, I ask you.  What does the perfect technology-centered primary classroom look like?  What software/apps/hardware/practices work best for young minds?  What have you seen or read or done that would make me giddy with excitement?

Thanks for the help!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

KidBlog and Educreations: A Beautiful Combination!

In my attempt to combine language arts and math, I have converted our note-taking process out of the spiral notebook and on the web. We're using KidBlog, which I'm learning to love.

Imagine a blog site built just for students to use.  However, it looks and acts just like WordPress.  My personal blog is on WordPress, and I love working within that format!  In addition, the blog is private, presumably only in our class. I love the privacy and security! Toward the end of this post, I'm going to give you links to good examples.  You'll have to let me know if you can access them.

The teacher creates the class and uploads a class list with passwords.  The kids log in and start typing away.  So far, we've done simple things. This last post was "summarize chapter three."  In essence, students merely wrote the lesson headings rather than really summarize.  Soon I'll be giving them harder writing assignments.  "Tell me the steps in long division."  I'm looking forward to them putting these steps into words. 

Since I am a blogger (maintaining both a professional and personal blog), I want to see my students doing their writing online as well.  Publishing online is a great practice to learn in a safe environment and helps them see that their work is important to others.

I've added another piece to the puzzle -- an Educreations presentation.  I give the students a specific problem they need to solve and talk through using Educreations. This gives me a chance to see exactly how a student solves a problem and hopefully gives me the reasoning too.  

In one blog post, I can read, see, and hear how a student solves a problem and can connect writing and math together.

I had one glitch connecting Educreations and KidBlog.  The steps to embed the video to the blog were complicated for a 10 year old.  Since it's set up like WordPress, I could figure it out, but it was too many steps for the students to put together.  So, I emailed both companies.  Chris at Educreations, Matt at KidBlog, and I had multiple emails back and forth (and I assume between them) to make the process easier.  Once again, I love how these developers work along with teachers to make sure things work easily in our rooms. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Virtual Toolbox

Growing up, my family affectionately called me the mechanically declined one. It’s not that I don’t know how to fix things and build things... Ah! Who am I kidding? If you need a handyman, don’t call me. I’ll gladly help you with a project, but don’t count on me to be the brains or to do anything technical.

I know what a saw does, but there are so many different kinds of saws! Depending on what you’re cutting and what you want your cut to look like, there are all sorts of saws you can use.  One day this past spring I was using a standard hand saw to cut branches off a tree.  I’m sure I looked hilarious to my neighbor who brought me a...I don’t know what it’s called...a tree saw.

I have many tools in my garage, and I know how what to do with half of them. Some tools can be used for multiple jobs.  Some tools can be made to work for other jobs they weren’t intended for.  Some tools can be broken by using them for the wrong purpose.  

Sometimes I’ll be hanging out with other men who can talk tools and projects and use a language that I can only pretend to understand.  I’ll confess, there are times when I feel a bit inferior and not “one of the guys.”  


I wonder how many of my colleagues feel like that when us techies start talking shop around them? Do they feel inadequate?  Do they feel lost? Do they look at the iPads in their rooms and feel like I would feel if someone told me to change a carburetor? (Wait! That would be a fuel injector now, wouldn’t it?)  

There are things I would love to be able to do as a school. Collaborating with another school in another state, country, or continent. Going paperless. Create exciting iPad apps. But, I know that these are only dreams till teachers are able to lead students to do them.  That is still a long ways away for our school.

Educational technology is not going away. You may find a school that emphasizes technology less than another, but it’s a driving force behind education today.  

Will putting more tools in their toolboxes help them do a better job using those tools?  If the amount of unused tools in my garage can testify to this question, the answer would be a resounding NO! I have tools out there that I remember being excited to get, only to use them twice, or once, or never, and now collect cobwebs in some forgotten corner.

Here’s a thought that hit me only a short time ago.  Maybe less is more.  Ponder this briefly.  

Let’s be highly selective of the software and apps we ask our colleagues to use and train them well in how to use them.

Right now, my school is embarking upon a huge common core alignment.  I can feel the blood, sweat, and tears coming out of this non-planner. It’s going to be a tough road for a couple years till we have it all figured out. Do we also want to stress our colleagues out with every cool app that comes down the pike?

What if we picked a few important objectives for our apps and software and only put our precious resources (time and money) into learning and training those?  If we can do that well, then maybe our colleagues will enjoy some technological success and want to explore some more.

Then again, maybe one day I’ll enjoy a side business in furniture building. (Hey! Don’t laugh! It’s a worthy dream!)

Help me out, please.  I’m going to share these thoughts with my principal soon.  What are your reflections on what I’m saying? What are your thoughts? How do you arrange your virtual toolbox?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Nearpod Review Revisited

In the spring, I was asked by a member of our administration to review a new app called Nearpod, so my wife and I sat down one evening to play with the new toy. You can read that review here if you're interested in what I had to say. I didn't necessarily give them a bad review, but I wasn't enthusiastic about it either.

Since I published that post, two things happened.
1. It has become my most read post ever, and not by a little bit either. It has more than double the hits my #2 post has.
2. I've noticed that other bloggers and Tweeters are using Nearpod, making me realize I've missed something.

I don't like this.  I don't want to be known as the guy who doesn't like something, especially when other people use it and like it.  Are people using my post to avoid Nearpod?

I made it a goal at the end of this summer to sit in on a Nearpod webinar and find what I'm missing. It turns out that I just never found the time to get around to it.  School and family keep this guy busy, and I just never got to a webinar.

That leads to me last week when Edward Zelarayan from Nearpod contacted me and offered to do a live, one-on-one talk with me about Nearpod and its newest version. I've written about this in the past, but I love the personal interaction with app developers! Many of them are willing to bend over backwards to get their apps in classrooms. Edward was no exception.  I appreciate him taking an hour out of his schedule, days before a major update, to get me up to speed.

For those of you not familiar with Nearpod, here is the basic concept...
  • The teacher has a presentation loaded on his or her iPad. The students connect to that presentation with a PIN number.
  • The teacher and the students work through the presentation together.  The key is that the student has the presentation in their hands rather than have to see it on a screen.
  • As you progress through the presentation, teachers have craftily inserted questions, polls, or drawing slides to gauge student understanding and involvement.  These answers go directly to the teacher iPad, which can be shared with the class if desired and downloaded to the teacher's computer for viewing later.
I reviewed Nearpod Version 1.  Nearpod Version 3 is about to be released, and I got a glimpse of what's out there, and I am excited to see the changes.  Since my personal views on Version 1 are in the public, let's look at what I like about Version 3.

  1. More lesson options! At the time of my review, there were very few lessons in the teacher library to use. That has changed.  There are plenty of choices now.  
  2. Lesson creation is easy.  Seriously, while doing our chat, Edward made one up in a matter of minutes. Sure, he's the expert, but it really was drag and click. I realize it would take me longer to make my first lesson or two, but the process was relatively easy.
  3. Internet! It will be possible to put a website within a slide so students can browse within that site, and only that site. Students will have the capability to find some information, rather than have all the information in the lesson given to them. They also will be denied the ability to check email or play Poptropica.  
  4. If a student hops off the presentation for some reason (to play Blockwick?) the teacher knows.  
  5. I got a very eBook feel when I was involved in my Nearpod experience. I know it's more of a presentation software than a book software, but as we know lines get blurred in today's technology.  
All of us in education know that we all have different styles, philosophies, and methods. Feel free to name the ends of the continuum using the labels you want to use, but I look at it two ways.  One type of teacher brings information to the table to tell students what they need to know.  The side of the continuum has teachers who help students find information so they can report on what they are learning.  I lean most heavily into the latter category.  I rarely use presentation software, so Nearpod is not for me.  (However, while typing this review, I thought of a couple of lessons where it would be a good idea.  Direct instruction can be good at times.) 

What I wrote about in the past, and I'll reiterate here, is that Nearpod would be great for an educator who unpacks the information for the students. Here's why...
  1. It's as easy to use as PowerPoint, maybe more so.   I also think it's more interactive than PowerPoint. While asking questions is possible using PowerPoint, Nearpod makes it a natural part of the lesson flow.
  2. Nearpod gives you immediate and accurate feedback from each student.  A teacher knows whether each and every student understands the content of the lesson.  
  3. Nearpod gives even the most shy student a chance to interact with the teacher.
  4. There are many teachers out there who have been handed iPads by their school and have no idea how to start using them.  This is a great way to get the feet wet.  
  5. You can teach students remotely.  I have no idea where Edward was sitting when we had our chat, but we certainly weren't in the same room, much less the same state.  However, we were Nearpodding the whole time.  It is entirely possible that one teacher could be working with students in multiple locations at the same time. 
  6. Customer support.  Let me say it again.  Edward was so eager that I know all about Nearpod that he did a one-to-one chat with me days before a major update.  If he's willing to do that for me, he's willing to do anything to help you.
Here are two things I'm going to start working on after publishing this post.
  1. I am the Tech Lead at my school, which means that part of my job is to help other teachers learn how to use technology effectively.  I'm going to work on creating a professional development to introduce Nearpod to some of my colleagues who are fearful of their iPads.
  2. I am going to start working on Nearpod presentations for my students.  Here are some topics that came to mind: order of operations, reliability of a web site, founding of the 13 colonies.
How can you use Nearpod in your class?  Share your Nearpod stories in the comment box.  I'm interested in learning more!

PS As I sat and pondered this between typing and publishing (in church. Shh! Don't tell the pastor!) I also thought about the possibility of students creating Nearpod presentations.  Is it possible? I don't know, but that would open up huge possibilities for me.  I'll have to look into that. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

iPad Tips

Our school introduces iPads in fifth grade, where we have a cart program.  We have two carts to service our fifth and sixth grades (nearly 50 students and 4 teachers).  Before 5th grade, any iPad knowledge they have would be from previous experience using a personal device.

My sixth graders have a year of iPads under their belts, so I decided to have them create iPad tip posters to put in my room.  They had to print them out so we could put them on the wall.  I also gave them the option of emailing the posters to me for the blog.  The posters you see linked below were emailed to me by the students.  

This project required students to use Word, find pictures online, and paste them into the document.  

What tips would you add to the list?

Company Logos

I'm building my sixth grade computer curriculum from the ground up.  I'm fortunate to have both a computer lab and an iPad cart to work with.

For our first project, the kids got to create their own companies complete with a company name, goal, and logo.  This project required using two programs -- Word and Paint -- and was a good initial gauge of their computer skills and creativity.

The links below take you to the cream of the crop.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

That didn't take long...

Computer class. 6th grade. I gave the assignment paperlessly using a Google doc link on my web site. It took about 3 minutes before they found the chat feature....

Such fun! When I realized what was happening, I jumped on the chat and used that to voicelessly get them to work.  

Great!  Gotta love the collaboration! :)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Tech Lead Projects

I was recently asked by a friend what projects I'm working on as Tech Lead. Really, I'm just doing random things... reading whatever comes along the blog roll and Twitter feeds.  I do have a few pet projects going on.  I was recently reminded the need to focus my attention on just a few things for more efficient production, so I'm whittling this down into three categories.

Front Burner: (Things I need to work on now.)

  1. Course Selection: I've written about this briefly in the past. My principal put me on a quest to find out what web tools other schools use to receive course requests from students and parents. Funny how I've confused people on this question. They think I'm talking about distance learning or online classes. In reality, I'm looking for a web tool for students to sign up for courses for the next school year. So far, I've contacted a number of schools and asked them what they use. I've had too few responses to get a read on a good answer. Till then, here's a Google doc I'm working on with my research. Feel free to make comments on it if you want. 
  2. Showbie: Last year, we started asking the same questions a lot of other people were asking.  How do we collect, grade, comment on, and return student work on the iPads without littering our inboxes?  It seemed that no one had the answer, or at least they weren't sharing it with me.  Then along came Showbie.  Showbie is a web site and app, where teachers can upload an assignment file, students can turn work in, teachers can make comments (with text or voice), and give it back to the kids... without publicizing their grades or comments.  Sweet!  The only problem at this point is that they only play nice with apps that use WebDAV.   Most of the apps we use are not in that category.  Fortunately, they are working to also create ways to turn in apps that use web links.  Until then, we can only sit and wait.  I do have the green light to use it once they align with the apps we're using.  Incidentally, these guys are great to work with and did a lot of digging to answer my questions.  I love working with app developers!

Coleman Stove: (Things I'm working on for my own classroom.)

Kid Blog: I'm using Kid Blog in my math classes this year as a math journal, complete with Educreations presentations. I've hit some technical difficulties, which wouldn't be so difficult if I could convince my 5th graders to follow directions. :) Otherwise, it's going to be a great project! I'm currently in e-convesations with the Kid Blog and Educreations people to help make it work best.  I love that they are also conversing with each other to make my life easier.

Back Burner: (Things I want to do, but I'm awaiting approval on.)

  1. GAFE: I am really interested in using Google Apps for Education. I've converted myself, using Office as little as possible. I love how my docs can easily be linked to my web site for parent and student access. I now need to convince my principal to start with the students. Honestly, I think she is swamped with her new position and attempt to unite our elementary and high school divisions to be too concerned about this one.  We've talked at length about GAFE and attended a conference about it together last spring.  She loves it too and we'll get moving soon. Till then... I need to put my focus elsewhere.  In the meantime, read this great article from my friend Jon.
  2. Digital Footprint: We are a private school. Our very existence depends on tuition dollars and donations. I got this crazy idea that using social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and blogs will only help bring about public awareness of our school and share our vision with people in our community and far away.  Used correctly, we could build community online, which is where so many people can be found. Ironically, I'm learning a lot from a former student who now is the director of social media at a church in Chicago.  The things he is learning about social media and church can certainly be applied to our private school.  Now, to convince my principal it's a good idea. Then, we can get started.  (Look here for an article on YouTube and here for an article on Instagram.)
How are you focusing your technology research?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Course Selection?

It finally happened!  

This year, I have taken on a new role as Tech Lead in my school.  Basically, it means that I'm here to help work on any tech projects that roll around or help teachers with technology in school.  So far, it's been mostly Help Desk stuff that I probably have no idea how to do.  But, I dutifully figure it out and help the person.  It's a new title and new role.  No one knows what to do with it yet.

But today, it happened!  My principal swooped into my room and asked me to research a question.  This is the first time!  I'm almost giddy with excitement, but I don't really get giddy -- except when the Philadelphia Eagles are in the playoffs.  But I digress.

My mission is to discover how schools use tech tools and the web to offer up course selections and in turn how parents and students use tech tools and the web to make those selections.  

So, other than Google Forms, what is out there that we can use?  What does your school use?  Do they like it?  If you don't know (I wouldn't know if I were asked that question) would you mind asking your principal?  

Thanks for your help!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Google Apps in the Elementary School

While on Twitter recently, I bumped into some elementary teachers who are rolling out Google Apps in their elementary schools. We've hooked up and started a Google doc with our initial thoughts and questions.  I would love to have as many people join the discussion as possible.

You can find us at #ElGoogleApps or


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sometimes You Just Gotta Sing!

"You're going to play with me, Daddy?"

My daughter's bath time is a great time to get things done.  I love having an iPad because it's so mobile.  I can sit on the bathroom floor and check my email, Facebook, and Twitter, catch up on blogs, play a few rounds of Words With Friends, and even read a chapter of a book.  As a parent of a preschooler, I have come to realize that I don't get a lot of screen time; the little bugger wants to get her fingers all over my screen and keyboard.  Bath time is the perfect time to get it all done.

My daughter is three.  We adopted her from South Korea shortly before her first birthday.  Naturally, she is going to have security issues all her life due to many things she can't help.  I've been sick all summer. My summer break started with an ambulance ride to the hospital and a four-day visit.  My illness has caused me to spend most of the summer laying or sitting.  Until very recently, we have had sitters come in and take care of us when my wife works.  It's been a rough summer, which has not helped my daughter's security issues to say the least.

This morning's bath time was more of the same.  I read blogs. I played a round of WWF. I read a chapter in my book.  I put the iPad down to scrub the little one down.  "You're going to play with me, Daddy?"

How can any daddy resist that?!?

I grabbed a "microphone" and sang along with my little performer.  We sang loud.  We sang long.  We sang badly.  Most of the time we just made up songs on our own.  Sometimes we sang real songs.  Best of all, we sang together.  I am nearly certain I heard these words.  (She's in speech therapy at school; not every word comes out crystal clear.) "I love you so much. I love being with you alone."  It melted my heart!

Ironically, one of the blogs I read while she was bathing was by John T. Spencer, who specializes in making me feel bad about teaching out of a textbook or doing anything that squelches a child's creativity.  Being in his class must be a blast since he attempts to mix learning and play.  He would have loved our little concert.

What's the moral of the story?  Sometimes you just need to put the iPad down.  Sometimes you have to stop doing what's so important to you.  Sometimes you just have to pay attention to your kid (or the students in your room) and do what's important to them.

Sometimes you just gotta sing!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

YouTube in Your School?

I recently read this blog post written by a former student of mine.  He is on staff at a church in Chicago, in charge of the church’s social media program. Apparently, we watch four billion YouTube videos a month.  Let that stat sink in for a moment.  Josh takes a few moments to ponder how churches can use YouTube in creative ways to increase their online audiences.  He even used a personal example of an eyeglass store who sent him a 15 second personalized video clip to invite him to the store.  

This all leads me to ask... How can we use YouTube to increase our audience at MVCA?  If YouTube is getting bigger than Facebook, can we somehow put our content out there?

Right away I thought of two hindrances to doing this.
1. Our students (like all K-12) students are minors.  What legal issues surround putting their faces and voices on video and online?  Is there a waiver we need parents to sign?  Could that be something we put in paperwork parents need to sign when enrolling students for the year?
2. What copyright issues would we run into?  It would be tempting to post clips of our fine arts performances, but would we be breaking laws?

Let's look past those legal issues momentarily to see the benefits.  
1. One goal of educational technology is for students to user higher level thinking skills, and creating content on YouTube can help achieve that objective. If our students can create excellent promotional videos, they can learn a life lesson that can be carried well beyond graduation.2. As a private school, we rely on enrollment to maintain our budget.  We are constantly marketing ourselves.  Here is an excellent and free method to do this.  
3. Parents, grandparents, friends, and potential donors can view videos and see what's going on in our school.  This positive press show our constituency what our students are learning and doing at our school. 

Overall, I think that we can effectively utilize YouTube to promote our school and increase enrollment, funds, and good will. It is in our best interest to jump on the YouTube bandwagon.  

How do you use YouTube in your school?

Math Books?

I got a crazy idea the other day when I took my daughter to the library.  Get ready for it...

Math Book Monday!

Out of my four daily preps, two of them will be math classes: 5th grade Advanced Math and 6th grade Advanced Math.  I'm really a language arts teacher at heart.  (This is my first year in 19 years of teaching that I won't have a language arts class.) So, I thought I would bring language arts into math class.  I already mentioned that I want to bring writing to math class via Kid Blog.  Now, I want to bring reading into it too.

Have you ever read Math Curse by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith?  This may be the absolutely best math book out there.

My question to you is this... What other math books are out there? I'll need about 35 more.  A simple question to my Facebook group (Education Bloggers) gave me another idea: How Much is A Million? This Amazon link gives me a few more ideas too.  

My wife is also urging me to do a longer term read aloud with A Wrinkle in Time, which sounds like a good idea.  I think I might try to tackle some L'Engle with my kids. 

So, can you help me out?  What books have you used in your math class?  Thanks!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Gearing Up For Back to School

It's been quite a summer for me.  I jokingly call it the laziest summer of my life.  The weekend that school let out, I was hospitalized with Guillain-Barre Syndrome and spent the rest of the summer recovering and recouping.  Needless to say, school was the last thing on my mind for most of the summer.

In less than two weeks, I need to be at an inservice day, so it's time to start thinking about school starting.  Get ready for some random thoughts.

I have been given the title of Tech Lead this year, which means that I get a five hours a week to read about technology happenings in the world and try to implement them in our school.  My first job in this role is to lead a round table discussion about our acceptable use policy for technology.  Please feel free to read what we have and make comments on the Google doc.  

If you've been reading this blog, you know that we are an iPad school.  The iPads were used well in 5th and 6th grade, but we found that they were not quite so well received in middle school and high school.  Also, we had a number of 6th graders bringing Kindle Fires and other technology.  For this reason, we are morphing into combination of iPads and BYOD.  Here is an interesting article about how BYOD is working in other schools.  I intend to sit down and read this closely, taking copious notes, before school starts.  I think it will be a good foundation to build our program on.  Your thoughts? How does your school focus on BYOD?

My course load has changed a bit.  I will be teaching Advanced Math for 5th and 6th grades.  You know that I struggled last year to excellently integrate technology into my math curriculum.  I will be using Kid Blog as an online math journal for kids to take notes.  As we get comfortable in this setting, I expect to be able to use this in a flipped classroom model as well as having students use Educreations to put their examples on their blogs.  How do you use Kid Blog?

Question?  Does your school issue email addresses to each student?  What is the benefit of each student having a school-issued email address?  Since we are using Google Drive this year, I am pushing for each student (and teacher) to have a school-issued gmail address.  Can you give me any ammo for my discussions?

Finally, I thought briefly about having no posters on my walls this year... just QR Codes to poster links.  Then, I realized that it's probably not aesthetically pleasing.  Oh well!

Enjoy the last few weeks of freedom.  Thanks for reading and commenting!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Gmail Anyone?

I have a quick question about using gmail in schools. Is there a benefit for giving students and staff a gmail account for school use? Is it better to allow students to use personal/home addresses?

What do you do in your school?

Thanks for your help!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Google Goes iPad

Call me a nerd but I'm very excited that Google just released new iPad apps. Google Chrome and Google Drive were put on the App Store yesterday. I'm told by a colleague that editing docs using Google Drive still isn't possible on the iPad, but it is a step in the right direction. Since so much of my life is on Google now, I'm glad that it can now extend to my iPad too. I hope you're having a great summer!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


I would like to invite you to #edblogs chat this Thursday night. I will be the guest host as we discuss technology integration from 8:30-9:30 Eastern Time Zone. We'll discuss why tech integration is so important and specific examples of technology integration that you have used. If you have any other subtopics you want to discuss, please let me know. Thanks! Thursday, June 21, 2012 #edblogs on Twitter 8:30-9:30 PM Eastern Time Zone

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Kid Blog

I just read another blog entry from another teacher referencing Kid Blog.  Does anyone out there use it?  What do you think?  Can you tell me how you use it in your class?

Thanks for the help!

Friday, May 25, 2012

App Developers

I am constantly finding new apps and trying them out in my room.  Some are an instant hit, and some should have never been downloaded.  However, it's not uncommon for me to have a question, and I'm not afraid to hit the "comment" section on a web site and ask.

The wonderful thing about iPad apps is how many of them come from seemingly small companies.  When you send an email, many times you wind up hearing directly from the app developer himself.  I've had a few friendly email sessions with app developers over the months, learning the intricacies of the apps or making suggestions for them.  

When we had a problem with Toontastic, I wound up in an e-conversation with Andy Russell, the co-founder of Launchpad Toys (ie the company that birthed Toontastic).  That led to me eventually getting published on their blog.

When I wanted to try out Educreations, I downloaded the app and created an account.  Within hours I received an email from Chris Streeter, the creator of that app.  He and I wrote back and forth a number of times and was interested in how the app was being used in the classroom. Even though I think Educreations is more user friendly, my kids like ScreenChomp better; it has more color choices.  Chris wanted to know what colors they wanted.

Math Evolve won numerous awards in 2011 and has all sorts of accolades.  Still, Adam Cocceri, the co-creator of Math Evolve, has been interested in every aspect of how I use it in the classroom.  He certainly doesn't need my endorsement, but he wants to know.  When I emailed him the picture below, he was so excited he told his students (also a 6th grade math teacher) and wanted to post it on Facebook.

Heck!  When I started to research Educreations, I posted a question on Twitter and mentioned I was a ScreenChomp kinda guy.  Within an hour, the official ScreenChomp Twitter account was following me and posted something like, "And that's why we love you." on my feed.

What's the point of this post?  I'm not really sure.  As I sum up, there are a couple of takeaways I have.
1.  Don't ever be afraid to ask questions.  We're in a new era of technology where we are not quite as dependent on behemoths like Microsoft and Google.  These are small companies that are trying to scratch out a living.  They want you to use their product.  They want your business.  They are there for you.
2. I love the excitement that comes from the app developers.  They are genuinely excited that I am using their apps in my classroom. You don't get that from the big companies.  They expect you to use their stuff.
3. I am not an app developer, but I can shape the future of educational apps.  By giving my input and sharing what my kids are thinking, I am helping to push educational technology to be something better than it is today.  I love that I can help in some small way.

So, find an app and hit the "comment" section.  See what happens when you do! 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Flubaroo Test Run

I gave my first "test" today using Google Forms and graded by Flubaroo.  It was definitely a dry run, and any errors were probably caused by me rather than the software.  Anyhow, here's my take on the experience. You can see the test (should you want to) using this QR Code.

  • It helps to have a healthy knowledge of how to make a form first. I made a few mistakes, had to do some deleting, and somehow my mistakes found their way to the final spreadsheet.  This means that they made it to my final Flubaroo grading sheet too.  That made for a confusing grade report.
  • Make sure your answer key is correct.  I know.  That's a no-brainer.  However, I did my answer key from memory and didn't bother to double-check my work.  On a paper and pencil test, I can say, "oops!" and fix it.  It's a bit harder on Flubaroo.
  • Taking a test on an iPad is both good and bad.  The good is that I can give them a QR Code and they can go right to it without typing in a long URL.  The bad is that it's way too easy to hit the wrong button on an iPad.  One little touch, and your test could be gone -- sent right to my spread sheet.  I had that happen with a few kids. 
  • I didn't do this, but if you include an email field in your form, you can opt to have the test results and answer key emailed directly to the student.  This is both good and bad.  Good because there is immediate feedback.  Bad because they can forward that immediate feedback to their friends. 

Overall, the kids seemed to like the format, though some wanted paper and pencil to do the work.  I also didn't actually include questions on the form.  I gave them page and problem number.  (You call it laziness.  I call overworked.)  I think that if I gave them actual questions to answer on the form and paper and pencil to work it they would have liked it.

I loved that it was instantly graded and I didn't have to spend time marking it all. I also got to see specific problems that were right and wrong and problems that caused a major issue with the class in general.

Are you using Flubaroo yet?  How are you using it?  What are your thoughts? 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

NearPod Review

I was recently asked by our IT person to review a new iPad app called NearPod, so I thought I would put my review on the blog so other people could read about it too.

NearPod is a free app that allows teachers to put presentations on student iPads.  These presentations can be found on the NearPod store.  All of their presentations are currently free, many of them being derived from the Khan Academy.  The presentations include both video and text and give the students a chance to answer questions along the way. They also give teachers the freedom to build presentations, which is a good thing with only 17 presentations currently in their store. Teachers control the pace of the lesson.  A student cannot just fly through the lesson to get to the end.  The only way to advance to another page is when the teacher advances it.  Teachers also have the ability to put test results or student drawings on everyone's iPad.

What I Like About NearPod:

  • This is a great way to put a multimedia lesson in front of children without a projector.  Each child holds vibrant videos and cool pictures in their hands. 
  • Every student is forced to respond to every question AND the teacher gets immediate feedback on how each student understands the content.  This information can be emailed to the teacher for review later if necessary. 
  • It's quick. It's easy.  It takes little planning.  This is especially a good thing when you're feeling frazzled like I am today.
  • It's paced by the teacher.  I have numerous students who attack their work at a sprinter's pace when I intended an artistic masterpiece.  There is value in going slowly and digesting the information at hand.
What I Don't Like About NearPod:
  • It's really nothing more than a textbook.  Don't get me wrong.  It's on an iPad, so it's more cool than a textbook... but it's the same thing.  There is nothing really interactive about it.  Students are still passive learners.
  • There is a lot of information for a child to digest.  My wife (a former 5th grade language arts teacher) and I did the graphic organizer example together.  This lesson is to be for kids 8 and up, but I think it's a lot for a 10 year old, much less an 8 year old. 
  • The diagrams are not necessarily visually and kid friendly.  They had my wife write on a fish diagram, and they expected her fingers to write very tiny on a very small line.  Then, she had to do a crossword puzzle, but you couldn't actually see the puzzle in thumbnail and couldn't type the answer in enlarged view.  
  • It's paced by the teacher.  Some kids need more time than others.  If they are not done with the page and the teacher moves on, not good.  
In the end, I think that NearPod has some good things to offer.  If you're a teacher just starting with iPads, this is a great tool to get your feet wet.  Everyone has an iPad.  Everyone is engaged at the same time.  Everyone answers questions. It's a step into the the world of iPad integration. If you know me, I'm looking for ways to use iPads to do new things in new ways and to encourage creativity not consumption.  So, I probably won't use it in my lessons.  

For other testing programs look toward Socrative or Flubaroo as well.  

I'd love to hear from other teachers using NearPod.  What are your opinions?  How are you using it in the classroom? 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Ohio Goes Google 2012

In an effort to make this a truly Google effort, I'm going to share the link to the article written on Google Docs.  Enjoy and please feel free to comment.  Thanks!

Click here to read.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Google Apps for Education vs. Live@Edu?

I'm very excited to attend a conference on Thursday about Google Apps for Education.  It seems that all systems are go for us to dig into that platform.  I'm excited to get into Google.  A lot of my life is already on Google (email, blogs, YouTube, web site, etc.), so I feel comfortable going forward from here.  However, we just got thrown a curve ball and were introduced to Live@Edu, a Microsoft platform which is to be comparable to Google's product.  So, I'm writing this post as a plea for help.  Please give me comments one way or the other.  What do you like or dislike about these products?  Which do you use?  Which do you prefer?  Give me ammunition to help our school make the best decision.

Thanks for your help!

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Three Little Alligators

The other day, I read The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales to my fifth grade language arts class.  Their homework was to write another fairy tale in a silly manner. I loved hearing their wacky tales, but this one took the cake.

In order to understand this, you have to understand some of our local culture.  I teach in Cincinnati, OH, but I live in Kentucky.  (You know... the home of the 2012 NCAA basketball champs.  You may have heard about it.)  Every season there is a Crosstown Shootout between University of Cincinnati and Xavier University.  Since our area is quite devoid of any good professional sports, college sports reign supreme.  This young lady summed up the rivalries quite well.  Read and enjoy!

My comment to her:  At least UK has a trophy to throw and didn't get knocked out by a nut.

The Three Little Alligators
By Anna R.

Once upon a time, there were three little alligators trying to decide where to go to college. Their choices were the University of Kentucky, Xavier University, and the best of all, University of Cincinnati. The first little alligator, Tuck, decided to go to the University of Kentucky. The second alligator, Xavier, chose to go to Xavier University. The smartest alligator, Baehr, went to the University of Cincinnati.

     The little alligators did not know that a giant mutant rabbit had just eaten his way through the Appalachian Mountains and was heading northwest. The rabbit smelled the blue cabbage that made up most of the buildings at the University of Kentucky. When the rabbit got there, he said “I’ll gnaw and I’ll chew, and I'll eat all the way through” and so he did. As the UK Athletic Director was throwing the NCAA 2012 Men's Basketball National Championship trophy at the rabbit, Tuck escaped and went to live with his friend Xavier at Xavier University.

     The giant mutant rabbit was still hungry and headed north. He smelled the blue carrots that made up most of the building at Xavier University. When the rabbit got there, he said “I’ll gnaw and I’ll chew, and I'll eat all the way through” and so he did. As the XU Men’s Basketball coach, Crispy Mac, was running away, the rabbit grabbed him and ate him. But that gave Tuck and Xavier the chance to run to their friend Baehr at the University of Cincinnati, the greatest of all universities.

     The rabbit was still hungry and he headed cross town. The rabbit couldn't smell anything but he heard the sounds of metal that made up most of the buildings at the University of Cincinnati. When the rabbit got there he said “I’ll gnaw and I’ll chew, and I'll eat all the way through” and so he tried.

     Since the University of Cincinnati has the smartest students, with the approval of the Head Football Coach, Butch, they set up a trap at Nippert Stadium. Baehr and his friends along with the smart cats trapped and killed the giant mutant rabbit. The whole campus celebrated with rabbit stew. Forevermore, Baehr and the cats were joined together; the University of Cincinnati now had their mascot, the Baehr-cat. Today, the University of Cincinnati's mascot is the Bearcat.


Friday, April 27, 2012

iPad Time: App List

Occasionally, I'll give my kids "iPad Time" meaning that they can use apps with little or no guidance. My rule used to be "no camera apps." More than half my sixth grade students have their own personal iPads with their own set of apps.  I got tired of them playing random game apps rather than something educational or using some sort of thinking skill.  So, I created this list of apps to use.  Is there something I'm missing?


If a teacher declares that you may use iPads during free time, here are the apps that are acceptable to use. 

·         7 Words      
·         Bible
·         Blockwick
·         BrainPOP
·         Bubble Ball
·         Calculator
·         Capitals (either one)
·         Coop Fractions
·         Doodle Fit
·         Doors
·         FactrSamurai
·         iCut
·         Jigsaw
·         Math Evolve
·         Minds of Math
·         Pearl Diver
·         Science VL
·         SketchbookX
·         Sliding Tiles
·         Tangram
·         WavePad
·         Word Jigsaw
·         WordsWorth

If you find a good app to put on this list, let a teacher know and we’ll make a decision.