Thursday, September 3, 2015

New #NerdyCast with @LynHilt

In this episode of #NerdyCast, Lyn stops by to chat about the movie Heathers and education today as well as what it is like to be a parent and educator. Lyn is an amazing educator that has been a friend for many years and always brings great insight to the conversation. You can follow her on Twitter at @LynHilt and check out her blog at

You an find all of my podcasts on Podomatic and iTunes.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Star Wars Matters In Edu #EdChat #T2T

I wonder how many people dismissed this post because of the fact that it had Star Wars in the title. If they did, they are missing the entire point of the article. I could have called this Doctor Who, Marvel, Superman, or other pop culture icons. The idea is that there are things out there that our students love and it should be our responsibility to know about the world around us so we can make connections to our students.

I was sitting at my desk and the trailer for the The Force Awakens showed up on the side panel of YouTube. I hit play because I had not seen it in a couple weeks. My son, who was playing with his toys, came rushing over and asked if this was Star Wars. He knew just on the opening notes. He asked if this was the second one. He has only seen Episode 4 and it will be a bit before he is old enough for Episode 5. He was excited when he saw Darth Vader's helmet and knew who Chewbacca was. His growing love for Star Wars will always be something that we can connect over and I would hate to see his excitement dismissed by a teacher.

Now, I'm not suggesting that every teacher become a superman of whatever kids are into at the moment, I'm just saying that we, as educators, need to be more accepting of what students are into and try to bring that into the class to engage them. 

When we talk about heroes and villains in stories, I will bring up Harry Potter or Star Wars or Disney films. The idea is make ideas easier for students to connect with in class. I happen to love all of the nerdy things that some kids do. These kids tend to be marginalized in school and are the ones that need an advocate more than others. I want them to know that it is ok to love those things. Making these connections and letting students know that I care about the things they care about makes a difference. 

The next time you roll your eyes when a teen talks about their love of One Direction, understand you are invalidating something important to them. They will not be engaged if you are dismissive of the things they love. Keep an open mind and ask students about those things they care about and show interest. It's the least you can do to create an accepting environment in the classroom. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Belly Rumblings #EdChat #T2T

My stomach is so queasy right now. I go back to school next week and have students in the room the week after that. After 14 years, you would think I would have this under control. However, I look at this as a good sign for me. This is how I know I care deeply about education. I'm nervous about the students I'm going to have in the classroom. I worry about my lessons and if they will need to be drastically changed or tweaked. All of this runs through the mind at the end of the Summer. 

For all of the teachers out there, I want you to know that this is not a bad thing. We all go through this. We are so passionate about what we do, that we get nervous because we want everything to be perfect for our students and our school. This is important to remember as the school year gets rolling and those butterflies vanish. Don't let the start of the year get to you. If you are stressed, look to your colleagues and PLN for support. I wouldn't be able to make it without them.

Have a great year!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Yes! @Storybird Gets It Right

Storybird is an awesome web based app that allows users to create they own picture books. I've featured them in sessions over the years on how this can help engage writers.

Storybird recently announced that they are ditching their Freemium model and all tools will be available for educators. Here is the full post from Storybird. 

Storybird gets it right. They see that things are tough and are doing something that helps teachers and students. If you haven't checked out Storybird lately, take a moment and see what I can do for your classroom. 

Stop Worrying About The Apple Watch

I've seen comments here and there about how teachers are worried about the Apple Watch and that cheating is going to be harder to detect if kids have them. Please stop blaming devices.

Want to make it harder for kids to cheat? Try assessing in a more meaningful way. Multiple choice tests that can be passed by tapping an answer to a friend should be tossed. It's no different than kids using a phone to cheat on a test. If the phone can provide the simple answer, there is something wrong with the test, not the phone.

Look at more project based learning assessments and presentations in class. Have students demonstrate understanding beyond the recalling of memorized then forgotten facts. Get them out of their seat and show everyone what they know.

If students are more engaged and are showing what they have learned, the fear of the Apple Watch or whatever tool comes along will be a thing of the past.