In the Know

34604271491_919b678a1c_nLast week during the IMMOOC live session, one of the things discussed was how to keep track of everything that is out there and the pressure some feel to be in the know and keep up. A few quoteables that I tweeted from the conversation are below:

It’s not about adding on and doing more; it is about what we want our kids to learn and how we are going to get there- what conditions we need to set. Season 4, Episode 3 with  via

‘I might not be able to keep up with what’s new, but I will try to keep up with what’s best for Ss’

“We need to support & praise everyone where they are at”

“We need to be innovating out of a desire to find what’s best, not just what is new”

With so much out there, it can be tough to keep up with it all. That is why I tell teachers to find what works for you and these students right now, and go from there. There are many different versions of the same thing that one need not use all of them; choose the one that you and your students like. Now of course, what works this year with this group might not work for next year’s students so we have to keep in mind the needs of the group we have at the moment.

Part of why I like to share the way I do is to help my teaching colleagues who might not have time to sift through all that is out there. I love to find articles, videos, research, tips, and tools. I then read, watch, try, and think about what might be helpful, useful, interesting, and thought-provoking. The rest is what comes next- the weekly, or every-other-weekly share. So without further ado, this week’s share.

This first share is from Matt Miller and it is all about taking annotating to a whole new level. I love the idea of taking articles or pdfs and formatting them within a table so that students can annotate alongside it. The comment option in Google Docs is another way to do this. Check out the highlighting and sticky note add-on options in the post.

Speaking of annotating, Richard Byrne is always sharing great tools and tips and this week is no different. In his Practical Edtech Tip of the Week he shares Tools for annotating videos and images. If you are a teacher who uses videos for teaching, introducing these tools to your students or using them yourself will definitely enhance your teaching and their learning. And, if you are someone who uses Edpuzzle, you are used to adding questions, text, and other information to spots along your video timeline, so using one of these should feel natural.

Next up is a podcast from Modern Learners wherein Dr. David Gleason and Will Richardson discuss The Costs of High Expectations. Adolescence is starting earlier and going later. People have social/academic expectations of the kids who may develop earlier because they look older than they are, but don’t have the mental capacity to meet these expectations yet.  This is just a taste of what was discussed:

Is it our fear of losing our reputation for getting kids into competitive schools what holds us back from doing what we know to be right for kids as far as over-scheduling putting undue stress on them? “Who wants to come to a vanilla school?”

For additional reading on expectations, executive functioning, and the mismatch between developmental readiness and expectations, you can take a look at this linked-in  article, “All Aspects of Students’ Development Varies, Including Executive Functioning Skills”.

Student voice, choice, and empowerment are themes in this round of the Innovator’s Mindset Massive Open Online Course. These interactive learning menus from Shake-Up Learning offer your students (and colleagues if you use these during PD sessions) the opportunity to choose their learning path from various choices on the learning menu choice board. These boards also allow you to differentiate by offering options that speak to different strengths and ways students like to learn and share their learning.

If you would like to read more about the importance of giving students choice, Alfie Kohn’s article, “Choices for Children: Why and How to Let Students Decide” is on point.

Lastly, I have mentioned Pooja Agarwal and retrieval practice as a learning tool a lot recently. That is because of all the science and evidence behind the practice of retrieving that Agarwal shares on her site. This week she shared a quick, no-quiz retrieval strategy called Two Things and it is a fast and easy way to have your students think about what they are learning.

photo credit: wuestenigel What’s new? via photopin (license)


Lucky 7

8187170652_bf6e3c2463_nWe recently became premium users of Screencastify, a screencasting tool that integrates extremely well with the Google suite of products. I love using my Screencastify extension to share instructions, how-tos, and more with my students and colleagues and it saves time for work during class if I am not performing a stand and deliver with the content. The students can proceed with the task at hand and if they need to, can revisit and re-watch the videos as often as helpful. With that being said, here is a list of educational uses of Screencastify that you might want to check out.

I don’t remember how I found this next site but am very glad I did! Curriculum Pathways is research-based technology resources for K-12 educators and students and they are FREE. You can browse the resources by grade, subject, or standard. You also have the ability to filter by discipline, grade level, type of resource: tools and apps, lessons, primary sources, etc.; compatibility to device: PC/Mac, iPad, tablet, iPhone, Chromebook; and 59 categories from Art & Architecture, to Trig, Spanish to Biochemistry, Modern Europeans to American Lit, Grammar to Statistics. There is nothing that is not included here on this robust site. Sign up- it’s FREE!

There is a new update to BookCreator that now allows for collaboration! Students and teachers can create books and get feedback in real time. This is part of their paid plan. With the free plan, one teacher can invite students to create up to 40 books for the class library ranging from portrait to square and landscape and comics in those same sizes. Did I mention that this is also browser-based?!

I have written and shared resources from Robert Kaplinsky before. Today I am sharing his Depth of Knowledge Matrix for Elementary Math.

This past week the Modern Learners webinar was on Learner Agency and asked, “Why do we do what we do, and How can we make learner agency a reality on our classrooms?” These webinars are always thought-provoking and make us take a hard look at our practices. You can listen to the recording here.

George Couros’ blog posts never disappoint and this one is no different. A hint of the gist of it is below.

“the best classroom management is always excellent teaching and learning.”

What would you do for a Klondike Bar? OK, that is not really what I am asking you. What can you do with 5-minutes? If you are like me, then you like to fill free time with something of substance. Be it reading, working out, phoning/texting a friend, tossing in a load of laundry, I like to make every minute count. Well now I have something else to do with that little bit of time. Matt Miller of DitchSummit and DITCH that Textbook now has a podcast! Yes, that’s right. In just about 5 minutes a day 5 days a week you can get great tips, tidbits, and inspiration that you can take right back to your classroom. The first 5 are here and each Tuesday, a recap of the previous podcasts will be right on his blog.

When Opportunity Comes Knocking . . .


“Teachers open doors, but you must enter by yourself” ~Chinese Proverb


When I was trying to come up with a title for this post, I thought about what kinds of things I was sharing. I realized that much of it, while presented as tips, tools, and readings, are really opportunities. Opportunities for our own learning, opportunities for our students’ learning, and opportunities to try something new.

Opportunity #1

I am excited that the Innovator’s Mindset Massive Open Online Course or #IMMOOC for short, is offering another opportunity for us to learn together as it is coming back for round 4. Whereas rounds 1-3 revolved around the reading and discussing of Couros‘ fantastic, thought-provoking book, The Innovator’s Mindset, this round includes two additional books to choose from: Katie Martin’s, Learner-Centered Innovation and A.J. Juliani and John Spencer‘s Empower. I loved participating in the previous round and looked forward to each week’s live video session as well as the weekly Twitter chat. If you would like to learn more about the previous round, you can read about it here.  This is a learning opportunity you will not want to miss.

Opportunity #2

This next opportunity is for World Language Teachers. Eric Curts always has great resources to share and this is no different. In his post, he shares 5 tools for increasing your students’ fluency with the target language including one that you probably had not thought to use this way. One of my colleagues has been using Google Hangouts with her students and she loves the authenticity of the conversations.

Opportunity #3

Equally as fantastic is this opportunity from Shake Up Learning to enhance your teaching life:  50 apps/sites that integrate with Google Classroom. As many of you know and can attest, Google Classroom makes your workflow that much smoother with your students. Having apps that integrate with Google Classroom makes using those sites even easier with their share to classroom option. I have personally used the Flipgrid, PBS Learning Media, Padlet, Nearpod,and Screencastify, as well as the Share to Google Classroom extension (which anyone who is using Classroom should immediately install) and find the integration to be seamless. It is really as easy as click, share, choose class, done!

Opportunity #4

While browsing the above post, I saw an opportunity to learn about a new resource and clicked on a site I had not heard of before– Open Ed. Open Ed is resources for teachers and students K-12 including videos, assessments, homework, lesson plans, interactives, and more. You can search by key word, grade, type of resource, standard, or school subject. Once you get your results, you can then share them with your students by printing or sharing to Google Classroom. If you create your free account, then you can create a class and assign things to your students individually, in groups, or as a whole class (similar to your options for assignments in Google Classroom). Your teacher dashboard shows you what you have assigned, what your students complete, how they did, and then offers specific additional resources for each student for each question they need more help with which you can then assign to those students. Talk about differentiation! Pop over to Open Ed to check out what they have to offer; you will not be disappointed!

Opportunity #5

This last site is an opportunity to engage your reluctant or struggling readers. A few weeks ago I heard about this next site and am excited to share it. Storyshares is a site dedicated to pairing books with struggling or disengaged readers that are compelling, age appropriate, and at the same time, are at their reading level. You can read about StoryShares here. What is great about Storyshares is it’s interactivity. You can search by interest level (late elementary through post high school), reading level (Fountas and Pinnell), or grade level (K-5). These are books written specifically to address the need for high interest and relevant books for those whose reading level is not the same as their age and maturity level. It’s really a win-win for everyone involved.

photo credit: PMillera4 Two Doors via photopin (license)

Taking Time to Learn


Taking time for learning is one of the ways I use my signature strength- Love of Learning. It is something I enjoy and often feel like I am missing something if I am not reading or engaging in some sort of learning whether it be a course or webinar. I recently participated in one hosted by Modern Learners‘ Will Richardson and Bruce Dixon. These webinars are thought-provoking, interesting, and leave their participants pondering things like grading, success, and questions like, “what matters” over “how”. When you subscribe to their newsletter, you get the free download of The Modern Learners Reader, a collection of essays on educational change. It is definitely worth the time to read it and would be great to read as a faculty.

As mentioned above, one of the webinars I participated in was with Scott Looney of the Mastery Transcript Consortium. In it he talked about his schools’ need for moving away from traditional grading and finding other ways of showing skills that students were learning and displaying that could not be assessed with letter grades. This recent article from Edutopia, “Will Letter Grades Survive?” offers a taste of that conversation.

“The purpose of education is not to sort kids—it’s to grow kids. Teachers need to coach and mentor, but with grades, teachers turn into judges.” ~Scott Looney, The Hawken School

As part of the Ditch Summit, Pooja Agarwal shared her research-based strategies for improving learning and retention through the use of retrieval practice. You can read about that in my previous post here. Last week Kate Jones, an educator I follow on Twitter shared her retrieval practice challenge grids that she created for her classroom along with images from numerous teachers who have adapted and shared her original challenge grid to use for spaced retrieval practice of their own content. Ah, the power of Twitter!

One of the sites to which I subscribe is the Global Digital Citizen Foundation or GDCF Ninjas for short. They have a fantastic blog as well as excellent resources on all topics including STEM, digital citizenship, formative assessments, writing, rubrics, and lesson plans (for premium users), and professional learning articles. It really is a site that has something foe everyone. One of the posts they shared is on formative assessment that includes several non-technology based ways to check in with your students. They also have a downloadable and printable pocket guide with over 70 different fun, quick, and easy ways to formatively assess your students. Pair these with or use for spaced retrieval practice as recommended by Pooja Agarwal, for a great way to ensure your students’ learning retention over time.

If you would like to find even more great articles, videos, tips, and tricks, check out this week’s Shipley PLN Lower & Middle School Edition.

photo credit: Anne Davis 773 learning via photopin (license)

Happy “20CHAI”!


How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world ~Anne Frank

Welcome back! In case you are questioning my title, 20CHAI refers to the new year, 2018. In Hebrew, the number 18 stands for Chai meaning Life. If you want to get technical and use gematria (pronounced with a soft g like in gem) the two letters that make up the hebrew word, Chai (the CH pronounced like you are trying to tickle your throat), are Chet (CH pronounced as above) and Yud (yood) represent the numbers 8 and 10 respectively and when you add them up you get 18. So 18 is the number that Jewish people often refer to as Chai.

So, I thought that with the new year being Twenty-Eighteen, it would be interesting to think about it in terms of positive psychology (since we are implementing at my school) and ask the following question, what will I do to improve LIFE this year, be it mine or those around me? This first article offers a new way of thinking about getting started.

I am generally not one to make resolutions, but Dr. Lea Waters proposes reframing our resolutions/goals and using our strengths to help attain them.

When we place the bulk of our attention on improving a strength we are starting at a higher baseline, and this is where we really have the potential to thrive.

Next is a list of books on wellbeing and character from the International Positive Education Network that I am looking forward to reading. Improving your wellbeing will have a ripple effect on those around you at home and in the workplace so selecting from here will be a step in the right direction for our 20Chai year.

Over the winter break I had the wonderful opportunity to learn from from amazing educators during #DitchSummit, one of whom is Dr. Pooja Agarwal. Agarwal’s presentation was on improving learning and retention by using non-graded, spaced retrieval practice throughout the learning. As she said in her presentation, it is not just about getting information in, but about getting it out. She proposes many research- and evidence-based ways to do this. You can read about them here in her retrieval practice guide and can sign up on her site to get email updates as new research, resources, tips, and articles come out. Implementing some or all of her tips will be helpful for your students (and you) and improve school and learning life for them.

The crux of positive psychology is “Other People Matter”. This next article, “The Magic of Validation” from the Cult of Pedagogy will help improve your relationship with students, colleagues, family, and friends. In it she discusses and offers ways to change how you listen to and respond to others thereby showing them you are hearing what they are saying and acknowledging their feelings (not necessarily changing your viewpoint, but seeing their perspective). Just the slightest change to how you interact can make a big difference on your relationships. Did you know that the way you respond to someone else’s good news has a large impact on your relationship with that person?

Last up are two resources to enhance your teaching repertoire for writing workshop and teaching least common multiples in math (actually, Kaplinsky’s site is one I have shared before and there are numerous resources for teaching countless other math concepts).

The first is a playlist from TED Ed for writer’s workshop mini-lessons. Here you will find 25 videos that are 6 minutes or less- most of them less than 5- on topics ranging from writing more descriptively, how to make writing more suspenseful, what makes a poem, and word choice.

The last resource is a complete lesson from Robert Kaplinsky and he uses a very funny scene from Father of the Bride with Steve Martin to illustrate the concept of least common multiples.  You will definitely want to check out his other lessons for students from K though 8 including algebra 1, 2, and geometry.

Images from Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons respectively.


Happy Holidays: #DITCHSUMMIT 2017



Image from Pixabay

Folks, an AMAZING learning opportunity is coming your way in JUST 4 DAYS! Yes, starting this Friday, December 15, the @jmattmiller will be bringing together a host of fantastic educators and thought leaders for OUR benefit in what is called, #DITCHSUMMIT.

Each day for 9 days you will receive a link to the daily video. The speaker presentations will range from 30-60 minutes and will be available until the clock strikes midnight on December 31. After that time, they will *disappear*, much like Cinderella’s magic pumpkin.

Here is the list of speakers.

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If you do not know, DITCH is an acronym that stands for:






I participated in this last year and LOVED it. You can read my posts on it here and here.

*If you made it to this point in the post, then you can view all the #DITCHSUMMIT presentations from last year right HERE!


What’s New This Week


Image from Pixabay

I read a great post from A.J. Juliani on Medium today titled, “The Three-Step System for Getting Students to Do the Talking”. We have all been there at least once- standing (or sitting) in your classroom with students ready to have a great discussion and the only one doing the discussing is you and maybe a couple students. Juliani makes a great point when he writes,

In order to get my students to take ownership in their learning, we started where they were at, instead of where I wanted them to be.

Of course we all would like our students to be able to lead and have a discussion on their own with minimal direction from us, but that takes time and practice. Juliani’s post offers three steps to get you going. I personally love the idea of The Discussion Game and plan on trying it out.

For more ways to get your students having great discussions, you can scroll to Let’s Discuss in this post.

This just in! While on Twitter, I saw this: Chat Stations. Of course I had to edit my post to include this additional way to get your students engaged in discussions.

Next up are two things I learned about from November’s Google for Education’s newsletter (yes, it is December, but I hang on to things until I can sit and really read them).

First is the ability to make diagrams in Quizlet. This takes the flashcard quizzing/studying site to a whole new level for you and your students. You may recall I have written about Quizlet here.

Second is a really cool science journal app from Making & Science initiative from Google. Using the light and sound sensors and the accelerometer on their iPhone, iPad, or Chromebook science students and teachers will be able to explore scientific phenomena all around them and record right into their journal. The Exploratorium has numerous activities to get you started. The science journal will offer you a whole new way of looking, listening, and moving through the world around you.