Thursday, March 28, 2013


Driving to work this morning, I got a text message from one of our secretaries telling me that I get to be a sub today!  Since it's a half day, and I only have one class today, it makes perfect sense to stick me in some high school classes rather than pay a sub.  Of course, this erases the plans I did have for today, but I don't mind helping.  

I spent some time in a high school English class and had the pleasure of seeing LibriVox in action.  I had never heard of it before today.  We synced an iPad up to the Apple TV and listened to Chapter 24 of The Jungle by Upton Sinclair.  While we listened to the story over the sound system, the tenth graders followed along in their books. 

I'm not going to lie.  The guy reading didn't exactly have the most entertaining voice, though he did try.  He did some great hiccups and pretend drunken talk.  I had never read the book myself, did not have a copy in front of me, and felt lost starting on Chapter 24, so I busied myself doing other things... including watching the students.

For the most part, I had zero relationship with any of the students in the room.  We had joked and chatted a bit in the first part of class, and they did like to talk.  It would have been easy for them to team up against the sub.  However, when the audio started, they were focused on the book.   Everyone was reading along (or at least appeared to be) and some of the students were even commenting aloud along the way.  They were into the book as much I would hope that a group of teenagers would be into a book published in 1906.

After the chapter was over and there were only a few minutes left in class, they reverted back to their teenager ways.  I got to hear how boring this class is and how they had no idea what was going on in the book.

But that half hour of listening to Chapter 24 was golden.  They were reading and listening and engaging.  Good stuff.

So, I have no idea what books are on LibriVox or if you can use it in your class, but it's worth passing along to you. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Beans and Rice Week

I don't think it comes as a surprise to many of you that we live in abundance here in America.  Sure, our economy isn't exactly fun right now, and many of us have to pinch pennies to make our pay checks last.  But, our current conditions far outweigh the large majority of the world's population.

The leadership at my church decided to make a statement using beans and rice. As a church community, we are foregoing our normal diets for one week and living off of beans and rice instead.  There are two goals.  One, we will have a better idea what life is like for about one billion people who only eat beans and rice as their main staples.  Two, we are taking the money saved on groceries and restaurants and putting it to good use.  All the money collected will be divided among three causes to help improve the lives of others. You can read more about the project here.

I know what you're thinking.  What does this have to do with educational technology?  Why are you blogging about it here?

I am stunned not by how many people are taking up the challenge, but by how social media is keeping the excitement going.  Seriously, eating beans and rice is not that exciting, but we are doing this as a community and are keeping each other enthusiastic about the cause.  We are using Facebook as a place to share pictures, encouragement, video, and recipes. (Yes, recipes. Our church leadership got some of the top chefs in Cincinnati to post recipes using beans and rice.  Makes it a bit more palatable for the tummy.)  You can also share pictures on Instagram and funny stories on Twitter (#beansandriceweek for both).  Now, it's not just my family and our small group doing this together, but we can tap into a larger community (including our pastors and people we don't know) to encourage each other on the journey.

So, while this isn't educational technology, it's an example of using technology for the greater good, the greater community, and spreading some beans and rice love.  And I'm excited to see the fire spreading.

What are some great uses of social media you've seen lately?

We wrapped up Beans and Rice Week on Easter morning, reviewing the benefits of the fast, taking up the offering, and showing this really sweet video (see below).  Once again, social media showed me that I was a part of something bigger than what's going on in my own home. This should make us ponder how we can leverage social media to created a bigger sense of community in our schools.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Tech Integration Specialist Dream

For seven marking periods I have been hard at work at this school, trying to teach excellently but also trying to bring technology to the doorsteps of my colleagues.  For seven marking periods, I have researched and experimented and tweeted and networked and tried to learn as much as I could about technology integration, especially with iPads.  For seven marking periods, I have emailed and harassed my colleagues trying to coerce them into joining me in the battle.  

Today promises me to be the biggest payoff day I've seen in those seven marking periods.

  • 7:15-7:45 - Our second grade teacher led a workshop entitled "There's an App for That!" which was geared toward getting our primary grade teachers started on iPad usage.  I stepped in to see a Kindergarten aide, a resource room teacher, a student teacher, 3rd and 4th grade teachers, and a principal all learning about cool apps.
  • As soon as I'm done here -- I need to go get a HS social studies teacher hooked up to gmail to get ready for this afternoon.
  • 9-10 -- My middle school students will be working on creating their own socially aware videos.
  • 10-11 -- I'll be sitting in on a demo with our guidance counselor to learn about an app to guide high school students in college and career path choices.
  • 12:45-1:45 -- I'm going to roll an iPad cart into 1st grade to team teach with our 1st grade teacher and introduce the students to iPad usage at our school.  I was going to do the same thing with Kindergarten after that, but we had to postpone the session for another day.
  • 3-4 -- We will have five teachers leading technology workshops around the school.  Teachers will be engaged in either Edmodo, Google Docs, Show Me, podcasting, or just learning how to get started on technology integration.
These are exciting times, and I'm surprised I actually slept last night.  Great things are happening here! 

What tech dreams are coming true for you? 

Monday, March 25, 2013

OAGC -- My experience at a gifted and talented teacher conference

I recently attended a conference for gifted and talented teachers in Columbus, Ohio.  As usual, I like to document my thoughts about a conference so I don't lose them and I can share them with you.

I was sent to this two-day conference because word on the street was that there is a huge technology strain of sessions.  This is not untrue, but I was amazed at how underwhelming the content of these sessions was.  Don't get me wrong; there was plenty of good stuff shared about Google products and iPad apps, but I had already learned a lot of it through research and other conferences.  It made me very grateful for the chances my administration has given me to learn on my own.

The mood of the conference was just a lot different than what I'm used to from Ohio Goes Google or eTech.  At those conferences, you can just feel the digital world all around you. You see people on devices, watch the Twitter feed zipping by, and can get a sneak peek into sessions you're not sitting in. At this conference, I was the only person tweeting it out and wound up following another conference in Toledo.

This isn't a bad thing, per se.  It's not all about the digital connections.  People were milling around talking to each other.  The exhibitors' displays were being visited.  Learning and connections were happening.  I just felt out of place... and I realized anew the gap between techies and nontechies.  There is a huge divide.

OK.  Enough complaining.  Let's get into what I learned.

QR Codes
I went to a session on QR Codes which was very informative.  As I'm sure you already know, QR Codes are just an easy way to get to a website without typing in a URL.  I've used these a bit in the regular classroom to link to directions or an interesting site.  However, I've seen people touting things like QR Code scavenger hunts and wanted to know more.

Here are some cool ideas that I learned:
  1. A student can write a book review and print the code on a sticker.  The sticker can be put right on the book so other students can access that review.
  2. Students can write an "about me" bio and put the code on a sticker.  Put the sticker on the child like a name tag.  This can be good for introducing people or wrapping up a biography project.
  3. Record student voices explaining their art. Put the code directly onto the art.  You can have simple access to the artist's comments about the artwork on display.
  4. Use it as a writing or discussion prompt. 
  5. Use to shorten the URL and tighten up the QR Code. 
  6. You can use or to record voices that can be linked to a code. 
  7. Two great QR Code generators are and
Project-Based Learning
When you go to a PBL session led by a man with a tie that says, "COACH," you know you've stumbled upon something good.  He talked a lot about how he coaches students to learn through PBL.
  1. Start with the end in mind.  Visualize the learning objectives you want to achieve and work backwards from there. 
  2. Realize we're not dealing with a "make anything you want" model.  He talked a lot about an ancient Egypt museum project he did last year.  Students started with the end in mind.  "We are going to set this classroom to look like a museum exhibit." 
  3. Once students understand the PBL process, they can help build the rubric.
  4. Students name a handful of learning outcomes they want.  They build the project from there.
  5. The teacher approves the project and it starts to roll.  The teacher becomes the coach and students do all the work. He talked about being bored in class because all he did was sit in the middle of the room while reading and stealthily watching students. Get out of their way and let them learn!
  6. He is constantly reading body language and is able to intervene early if there is a problem.  Be proactive, not reactive.  Alert parents early if necessary, not when it's too late.
  7. Students schedule three appointments with him throughout the project: set up the project contract, check up on progress, talk about the final product.
  8. He uses self and peer evaluation, especially in group projects, to help guide the final grade.  
  9. This is sneaky.  Each student gets a top-secret number.  He charts the evaluation grade on the wall throughout the year.  Students can see the trends and realize their own personal growth on the chart.  This helps erase the "It's My Group's Fault" syndrome.
  10. He has the same students for a few years.  By the last year, they know the drill. He just posts six projects on the board.  "You work on your own pace in any order you want, but these six projects will be done by the end of the semester." 
What great conferences have you attended lately?  What are you learning? 

Friday, March 22, 2013

What Makes A Techie Teacher Techie?

I am planning middle school and high school courses for next year and working off the GenYES model for student/teacher collaboration. It is my hope to save a few bucks and not have to purchase the GenYES materials.  Instead we'll create the course on our own.  

The basic mindset is that today's youth is more tech-savvy than adults.  Yes, that's a broad sweeping generalization, but there is some truth to back those words up.  We will spend the first month or so arming students with knowledge about a number of typical teacher needs.  Then, the rest of the semester would be students helping teachers solve problems, create projects, and take steps toward tech-integration awesomeness.  

In order to get this done, I need to think of the end-product.  
  • The faculty will increase in technical confidence.
  • The student will collaborate with a teacher to create a technical project.
What should these projects be?  What are skills that a 14 year old can quickly pick up and pass along to a 44 year old? 

So, that leads me back to the title.  What makes a techie teacher techie?

Think through your day.  What tools do you use? What sites and apps do you use?  What are you doing differently now that you didn't do 5 years ago? What are some simple things you wish your colleagues would do but don't?

I would appreciate any help you can give me, and in return I'll share it all back with you. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

App Test Drive, Week 2

In my undying effort to bring quality apps to our school, I employed the greatest app critics under our roof -- my seventh grade Tools for Tech students.  Over the course of three days, students were given a handful of apps and asked to play with it for 30 minutes and write a review using a Google Form.

Here are the responses.

  • Molecules: An app that allows you to look at the structure of molecules. (Rated 2.9 out of 5)
  • Paper (by 53): Create your own sketch books.  Use it for artwork or taking notes.  (Rated 3.5 out of 5)
  • Puppet Pals HD: Use puppets to tell your story. Really geared toward younger students, but who doesn't secretly hope to relive those puppet days? (Rated 3.1 out of 5)
  • StopAnimator: Create your very own stop animation video. Great to teach storyboarding, sequence, storytelling, and a host of other things. (Rated 3.9 out of 5)
What experiences do you have with these apps? 
What good apps have you found lately? 
What needs to go on the next app test drive?

Click here for the raw data. 
Click here for the first app test drive results.

Online Thesaurus

A few weeks ago, I was searching online for a thesaurus for first graders.  All my Googling came up with synonyms for "first" or "grade."  I got very frustrated, but I did land on this blog post, and my mind went into hyperdrive.

I borrowed heavily from this lesson for my 6th grade computer class, but I wanted to put the thesaurus online.

I created multiple slips of paper with one word on them.  I passed these slips out and told the kids to write as many synonyms for the word as possible. I gave them two-minute time limits.  At the end of two-minutes, they had to switch slips with a friend and keep coming up with synonyms.

After about 10 minutes, I set them up on a series of Google Docs with the words on editable docs.  They had time to type the synonyms onto these pages.

When they were done, I emailed the link to their LA teacher and offered it up as a thesaurus to help them with writing in the future.

Feel free to hop on and see their work.

Now, to do the whole thing again with 4th grade tomorrow.  Should be fun!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Keep the #edtechex Love Going


I am thrilled at the initial response in the first few hours of #edtechex. I am guilty of bombing various people with it, but it was all in the name of publicizing what I thought was a good idea.  Little did I know that my blog post would garner so much excitement.

Many of you retweeted the idea, shared it on Google+, or spread the word in some way or another. Not only did I share some of my favorite projects, but others did too.  I was involved in an impromptu chat last night with Leah and Mike about one of Leah's student's blog projects. Even as I'm typing this post, Allie is sharing the hashtag with others and now I know about Ms. Neidlinger's class blog challenge and Twitter handle. That's what this is all about.  Sharing the great stuff we're doing and spreading the word so we can all learn together.  Thank you!  I'm glad we latched on to a good idea.

Now... How to keep the enthusiasm going? I'm all ears.

Some ideas have floated by in the last 24 hours to make it better, and I want your input.

  • My world is educational technology, so maybe I focused too specifically on ed tech. Please feel free to spread any good educational ideas.  As we know, the technology doesn't make us good teachers; we use the technology as a tool to better equip our students.  
  • Do we start a specific chat time?  Weekly? Biweekly? Day and time?  What does the set up look like?  I have ideas, but I'd like to hear yours.
  • Is the hashtag name a good one.  Fred had been thinking of something similar and was going to call it #extendedchat.  Thoughts? It takes away the tech aspect.
Keep the comments and tweets coming.  I'd love to hear more from you in the future. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What's Working for You? #edtechex

I love connecting with other educators online, getting to know them and discussing educational philosophy.  I've discovered that Twitter and blogs are great ways to learn from like-minded people and get a sense that I'm not the only one trying to integrate technology into curriculum.

Recently, my role at school was changed, and I was able to participate in #edchat for the first time.  I was excited...but completely overwhelmed.  I would hop into the stream and hop out throughout the hour the first time I participated.  Now, when I can join the chat, I normally hang in there for the whole hour, unless I have more pressing matters on my desk.

But...sometimes...I get frustrated. Sometimes it feels like we keep saying the same thing.  Sometimes I feel that I am preaching to the choir, or sitting in the choir being preached at.  It's good to have affirmation, but we all think the same way (or at least similarly).  After all, we're all on Twitter... we are a demographic unto ourselves.  Chances are we like the way we teach and aren't fond of the way they teach.  We have no dissenting opinions because we are using a platform the dissenters wouldn't dream of using. 

Is this bad?  Not really, but instead of patting each other on the backs and pointing our fingers at them, I'm looking for something more concrete.

That's why I'm proposing a new hashtag.  #edtechex.  It stands for "educational technology examples" and I'm using it as a place to showcase excellent examples of technology use in schools.  It can be an app that you enjoyed, projects your students did, helping a colleague take a step toward tech integration awesomeness, or an article you read that you really envied.  

Personally, I'm interested in seeing great things that have grown out of your research, hard work, and student innovation.  Since you're online, I'm already guessing you lean toward technology integration, project-based learning, constructivism, and more progressive educational thinking.  Great.  Now, let's look at the concrete results of what you're doing out there. 

Will I continue with #edchat? Of course.  I'm still connecting with great educators and having interesting discussions, but let's get our hands dirty together. Shall we?  

Will you join the conversation with me in the comment box or on Twitter at #edtechex?  

Thursday, March 7, 2013

7 Wonders of the Tech World #7techwonders

As we sat around the lunch table today, someone struck up a conversation about the 7 Wonders of the World. Now, I realize this is not normal dining conversation, but when teachers get together, you really don't know where the chat is going to go.  Today, we got all historical.

Apparently, the Wonders were named as such by the Greeks and were located at or near their shipping ports.  I didn't know.  Then, we were told there was a more modern list -- including the Great Wall of China.  I'm fairly certain that the Great Wall isn't exactly modern, but maybe the idea was a list created by more modern people with a broader view of the world than just the Mediterranean Sea.

Just to clear up confusion, I'm linking Wikipedia's article on the Wonders of the World. In this article, you can read about the original list -- the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World -- and other lists such as Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages, Seven Wonders of the Natural World, and Seven Wonders of the Engineering World.

All this talk got me thinking.  (I do a lot of that during lunch: listen, think, listen, think.  No one knows what's really going on in my head unless they read this blog.)  What are the Seven Wonders of the Tech World?  I didn't give it a lot of thought, but I knew my iPad had to be on the list.  After all, in just a few short years it has revolutionized the educational world and really society as a whole.

I went back to my office and tweeted the question...

What would you consider the 7 wonders of the tech world?

I got a reply almost immediately from Michael Roush, and try as I might I couldn't knock him off his list. 
  Internet, Microprocessor, Binary Code, Wireless TX, Fiber Optics, Open Source, & the Commodore 64!

I really want to add iPad or iPhone, the Cloud, Palm Pilot, and CD players to the list, but I can't find a way to squeeze them in.  Maybe a Google reference somewhere too. 

So, what do you think?  What would you put on the list?  Hop on Twitter and cast your vote.  Maybe we'll put it on the Wikipedia page one day soon. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tell me about your PLN.

I first jumped into social media for professional reasons in the summer of 2011 when I got hired at my current school. I walked into an iPad rollout and had not even touched an iPad -- much less taught with one. I quickly got a Twitter account and started blogging about my experiences.  I wanted to learn what other teachers were doing and then return the favor by sharing my knowledge with the world. I love being part of a global learning community where we share with each other and can grow together.  I have to confess that I feel I do more learning and less teaching through social media.

One thing I've seen over and over is the idea of a PLN. To be honest, I had to Google it, because I had no idea what it meant.  (That reminds me of the time when I saw that Karaoke was playing at all the bars in town. I couldn't believe they were so good that they had gigs every night all over the place... till I learned what karaoke really was. Oops!)  So, a personal learning network. Sounds great.  What is it? Seriously, I'm trying to figure it out.

OK. I can figure out some of the biggies.
  • It's an interconnection of learners who help each other grow.
  • It can be online, using social media, but there's nothing wrong with learning from people you can actually see on a regular basis.
I can think of numerous people I learn from.
  • In my school, I have a tech integration team I work with; we try to exchange information back and forth and learn together. 
  • There are certain people that I know I can pose a question to and I will hear back from them.  
    • Jon is a former colleague who has been instrumental in my shift from teacher who likes technology to technology integration specialist.
    • Matt is a former student who knows all sorts of hardware, software, networking, and a host of other stuff. He's not a teacher, but he works in the IT department at a hospital and loves to help.
    • Josh is a former student who is a social media specialist and is always willing to answer social media questions.
    • Carrie is a Kindergarten teacher who constantly wows me with what she accomplishes with her kids. I've asked her numerous questions about practices with the wee ones.
    • Leah is a 5th grade science teacher who uses iPads in her class. While I've just recently connected with her, she has proven to be a great source of information.
    • I have found lately that when I pose a question on Twitter, Michael is pretty quick to answer.
  • Then, there are the biggies that we all probably know about.  When I see Vicki, John, Nick, or Eric pop up on Twitter or Google Reader, I'll try to read their stuff and see what I can glean. 
Is this my PLN? Is it completely informal? I mean... What if I'm learning from you, but you don't learn from me (or even realize I exist)? Shouldn't there be a special handshake? 

I don't know how many times I've edited this post, because I don't want to sound like an insecure middle school kid who hopes he can find some friends. While my life dream is to be Norm from Cheers and have everyone yell, "Craig!" when I walk into a room, this isn't the goal of this post.  Really, I'm hoping to figure out exactly what it means to talk about a PLN and I'd love to know that my posts, tweets, ramblings are helping someone else be a better teacher. 

So, I'm all ears.  Comment below.  Tweet me. Email me (  Tell me what you think.  Oh... and if it's not obvious by now, I'm looking for a PLN.  Will you be my friend? :)

Princess Bob and the Dragon

Our second graders are learning about fairy tales, so in computer class we tackled a class-written fairy tale. We started with an 8 part sequencing chart.  I started it off with "Once upon a time in a land far, far away" and "And they lived happily ever after."  The kids took off with the rest. Once we were done with the text, they each picked one page to draw on Paint.  I saved them on flash drive and put them into a StoryKit book.


In hindsight, I should have assigned pages to draw. Some of them are empty since no one wanted to draw the prince and princess at a castle (but they were very adamant that there needed to be smooching at the end.)

20% Time Projects

The end of the third quarter is upon us, and we are wrapping up our first round of 20% Time Projects. I'm quite proud of the work these seventh graders have produced.  The links below are evidence that if you give students some tools and the freedom to work, good things can happen.  Please take a moment to enjoy some of these sites, videos, and songs and encourage these students with your comments.

Websites/ Blogs
Cam APPaloosa
All About Animals
Connor's Art Wall
All about Animals
Evan's Awesome Site
Whit's Snake Site
Minecraft Pocket Edition

Maxx and the Robot

The Discovery

Original Songs
My Song 7
Tools for Tech
Please tell me if you can't access these songs. I had some trouble making GarageBand songs public.
With You

My Wallpapers

Monday, March 4, 2013

Friday, March 1, 2013

App Test Drive

This week in Tools for Tech, my seventh graders did an app test drive.  They spent time trying out various apps, rating them, and giving them written reviews.  I thought I would share the highlights with you in case you’re looking for a fresh new idea for your curriculum.  You can find the full unedited review results at this link.

·         CargoBot: Touted as a way for students to learn coding.  I haven’t seen coding, but it is very taxing on your logic skills. (Rated 2.8 out of 5)
·         Doceri: An interactive whiteboard on your iPad.  I haven’t used this one myself, but I see it all over the place in my reading. (Rated 3.7 out of 5)
·         MaxJournal: It’s a journal.  Good for taking notes or creative writing.  (Rated 4.3 out of 5)
·         Skitch: A drawing app connected to Evernote.  Since you can save your drawings to Evernote, it has lots of great uses.  (Rated 3.09 out of 5)
·         Tinkerbox: A physics and engineering app and very addicting – if the kids’ reaction to it is any indication.  (Rated 4.2 out of 5)

Sadly, there was one app that we all agreed needed to be deleted from the school iPads: iSwifter.  iSwifter is a flash player for iPad.  I won't go into the negatives.  If you like it, enjoy.  Personally, I prefer Rover

What cool apps have you found lately?  


I recently attended a webinar about how project-based learning (PBL) can help improve your STEM curriculum.  The webinar was led by Michael Gorman of the BUCK Institute for Education (BIE).

I have always considered myself leaning toward the PBL model.  Ironically, BIE would consider my past projects as the dessert, not the main course. In other words, teachers should make the project the main learning activity, not something tacked on at the end of a unit. My main concern about full-fledged project-based learning is that it's going to be hard for teachers to ensure that standards are met.  Since students can construct their own projects, they drive the learning.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I also see how students could lean too heavily in one area and ignore another.  I thought that BIE's page on PBL was very helpful in seeing exactly what goes into a project-based learning unit.  Their diagram on that page (see below), makes it easy to see what I should look for when constructing a PBL unit.

STEM is a common buzz word flying around educational writing these days. Most school models look at each of these components as separate courses.  You have your science courses and math courses, which everyone takes. Technology courses are for the nerds and engineering is done through a drafting course for people who are serious about an engineering career.  We present these thinking processes as separate and disjointed subjects (boxes, as described in the webinar), so it should come as no surprise when students see no connection among them.  I still remember as a high school student, my friends and I commenting that our science classes were becoming more like math classes and our math classes were looking like science.  (Light bulb!)  The proposition was made to put all these courses into one large box.  Allow students to see connections among science, technology, engineering, and math by teaching them as one course.  

Can that work? Maybe, but it will obviously take a major shift in philosophy and practice.  Administrators, teachers, parents, and students would have to embrace a model that is new and different, but potentially very effective.

During the webinar, we were told, "Project-based learning is the glue that hold STEM together."  Given that science is all about inquiry, hypothesizing, testing, and reporting, it makes sense.  If you can package your unit in such a way that students will learn the intended content standards while researching on their own and ending with a product to be proud of, you have a good thing in store.  The trick is learning how to do it effectively.

We were given scads of sites with ideas, plans, and even contests to get us started. (I'll post those links at the end of this post.)  Like any major shift, sometimes it's easier to start slowly.  Take one step this upcoming quarter toward a PBL/STEM model and build upon it for the next quarter.  

Is the PBL/STEM model the best course of action for the future of learning?  I have no idea, but I can see benefits from it. 

Here are some more takeaways from the webinar (or my own ruminations about the webinar):
  • If you can't swing a STEM class, would it be possible for various teachers to work collaboratively?  What if a math teacher and a science teacher decided they would team teach for two weeks, working together on a PBL model unit?
  • STEM isn't just for high school. I work with 5th graders at my church, and they talk about Robotics Club and Lego Club. In a previous post I mentioned Leah LaCrosse and the cool things she's doing in 5th grade science, including robotics with Legos.  
  • Add the arts, and you get STEAM. Those of us who are mathematically wired don't always think about the aesthetics of what we create. The arts can have (nay, need to have) a voice in the products we make with kids.
  • Innovation comes from experimenting. It is so easy to get into a cycle of lecture-assess, lecture-assess, review-test, repeat.  However, this teaches students to memorize for a test, not to learn for personal growth.  If we give them room to explore and tinker, there is a better chance for lifelong learning to happen.  
  • On the flip side, textbooks and direct instruction bring standards and continuity.  Don't forget that we can't trust every child to attack a healthy balanced diet of all Common Core Standards on their own.  There has to be balance, and with work that can come about.
  • I loved that some ladies in the audience mentioned STEM for girls. Let's do what we can to help the young ladies in our schools achieve more in STEM fields. 
Here are some links to guide you to PBL/STEM project ideas and contests.  
  • is a site to help kids see how their passions can lead to a STEM career.  Then kids can play games to help them learn more about that career. 
  • is an organization dedicated to bringing girls to the STEM table, using art as the gateway. 
  • Mike Gorman wrote this article about the proper use of PBL in the curriculum. 
  • is a different kind of search engine, with the scientist in mind. Click on it and play around for a while. 
  • is a great place to find science lesson plans and helps. 
  • Future City is a science contest which is not currently in action.  However, the site is still live, and you can get great ideas from that. 
  • eGFI -- An engineering site for K-12 classrooms. Anything with a robot on the splash page can't be half bad. 
  • Siemens has a STEM site to help teachers and students as they learn and grow. 
  • connects students to real life science projects. 
  • uses gaming to teach students the workings of a video game.
  • The Texas Girls Collaborative Project is full of great ideas to help girls get into STEM. 
  • The Young Scientist Challenge is a STEM contest sponsored by the Discovery Channel and 3M. 
  • The Kids' Science Challenge is another STEM contest.  The mascot is an Hawaiian shirt wearing chameleon.  That's worth clicking on right there. 
  •  Learning with the world, not about it. 
  • is another STEM challenge sponsored by Siemens.  It has EL, MS, and HS divisions. 
How are STEM and PBL working together in your school?