Sunday, August 10, 2014

How To Study: An Infographic

Photo Credit: Amy Dunayevich
As the new school year begins, many students bring along old, and sometimes bad, study habits. Spend some time with your students sharing study tips and strategies. Most students do not know HOW to study and have never been taught. It will be time well-spent.


Tuesday, August 05, 2014

EdTech Jargon BINGO

Here's a game to play at your next conference session, meeting, webinar, or sales pitch. You can even play in the comfort of your home while reading educational blogs, Facebook posts, or Tweets by educators.

You may find it interesting to know that it took me less than 15 minutes to create these BINGO cards using words off the top of my head.

Why do these words annoy me so much? Because they are being used as FLUFF. When used correctly, they are fine. Here's how I define "correctly:"

There is other contextual information to support the use of the word or phrase. Don't just tell me your program transforms education. Tell me what you mean by "transform" and then show me an example. Hint: using an iPad to create videos is not transformational, and neither is using technology to engage students. Teachers have been engaging students for years. 

What words would you add?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

One More Thing…Please, No Worksheets

A must-read!
"Based on what I’ve learned over the past 18 years in the field, I have to tell you, I don’t care if he walks out of your room at the end of the year and he can’t write numbers up to 20. He will pick that skill up as his life requires it."
Read the entire Open Letter To My Son's Kindergarten Teacher by Phillip Kovacs

If you were his son's kindergarten teacher, how would you respond?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Share Students With ClassDojo

With ClassDojo, teachers can now collaborate to improve student skills and behaviors and students build important skills across all of their classes and grade levels. ClassDojo, the popular behavior and skills development app used by millions of teachers around the world, recently released a new set of features aimed at teachers eager to work together on the application. Teachers across 180 countries already use ClassDojo daily to give feedback to students for important behaviors and skills like curiosity, participation, and grit. 

Until now, teachers could only encourage students in their own classes. With this new set of collaboration features, teachers within a school can safely connect with each other, give feedback within each other’s classes or for specific students, and even review student reports from other classes. Students will benefit greatly, too, as it becomes possible to track and reflect on their development across all classes, and even grade levels. 

Image Source: classdojo
With the release, ClassDojo takes one step towards realizing its mission of helping students build character strengths in schools and homes everywhere. Over the course of 2014, ClassDojo has launched multiple features which strengthen relationships between teachers, parents and students. As research shows, students learn important behaviors and skills faster when there is strong alignment and encouragement from all their teachers, peers and parents. Just as ClassDojo Messaging strengthens the parent-teacher relationship, Shared Classes and Shared Students creates stronger teacherteacher networks within schools: 

  • Shared Classes lets multiple educators teach the same class. This feature is especially useful for elementary school teachers, teaching assistants, and any situation where an entire class is taught by multiple teachers. 
  • Shared Students enables teachers in the same school to share students across different classes and view their student reports. Individual students can now move between different teachers and classes, but still build on their progress over time. This makes ClassDojo much more feasible for older grades, allowing teachers to better understand how their students are performing in other classes very quickly. Indeed, the company says this has been middle school and high school teachers’ greatest request. 
These two features have been beta-tested for some time ahead of this latest widespread release. As they are already well-received by early testers, the company expects to roll out many enhancements in the coming months, ultimately leading to easier sharing and collaboration between teachers in the same school. 
“The launch of Shared Classes and Shared Students is a huge moment for our teachers,” said Sam Chaudhary, CEO and cofounder of ClassDojo. “So far, millions of teachers have enjoyed using ClassDojo individually within their classrooms, and though it’s been effective, we believe teachers working together can unleash greater power from the platform. With today’s launch, for the first time, teachers are able to easily use ClassDojo together across their whole school or grade level. Teachers have a simple, nohassle, schoolwide system they can use to help students build skills and behaviors, students get more consistency across the school day, and parents finally get a unified view of what’s happening at school.” 

Shared Classes and Shared Students are available now, and teachers can access them by signing up for a free account at


As a ClassDojo Thought Partner, I receive information, updates, and pre-release information so that I may (at my own choosing) share on my own blog. There is no compensation from ClassDojo for anything I post here on

As a ClassDojo Thought Partner, I do write original content for ClassDojo to post to their site. For those posts, I do receive a monetary honorarium. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

ISTE2014, LeVar Burton, and Common Sense Media

Common Sense Media Hosts Speaker Spotlight at ISTE 2014 Featuring LeVar Burton -- Actor and Co-Founder of Reading Rainbow -- on Kids and Reading in the Digital Age

Burton's "Inspiring Learning with Technology & Storytelling" presentation is part of Common Sense Media's focus on helping teachers discover the best tech tools for K-12 during the annual edtech conference starting this week in Atlanta.

On June 29, Common Sense Media, the national nonprofit dedicated to helping kids, parents, and educators thrive with media and technology, welcomes Emmy Award-winning actor and children's literacy advocate LeVar Burton to speak at ISTE 2014. Burton will address a capacity crowd at the Common Sense Media spotlight session about inspiring today's tech-savvy students to develop a lifelong love of reading.

"LeVar's message is timely and the audience at ISTE ideal for a discussion about technology's potential to engage and advance learning," said Mike Lorion, General Manager of Education at Common Sense Media. "Research suggests that adolescents are reading less for enjoyment, and that a significant reading achievement gap persists between white and minority students. How might technology inspire kids to read more or become enthusiastic about any subject and skill?"

Burton has dedicated himself to inspiring millions of children to read both through his beloved long-standing PBS children's series, Reading Rainbow, and more recently through the Reading Rainbow digital library, currently available on the iPad and Kindle Fire. Some 184,000 books are read each week through these platforms, which were launched in 2011.

"What we know is that reading is as important--if not more so--as it has ever been and our kids are falling behind,” said LeVar Burton. “But we also know that it is possible to use technology to foster a passion for reading that lasts a lifetime."

Burton will present his spotlight presentation at 4:30 p.m

From 2-2:30 p.m., Burton will join Shira Lee Katz, Senior Director of Education Content at Common Sense Media, and Dr. Kris Mitzner, Principal of Diane Winborn Elementary School in Katy, Texas in a 30-minute panel conversation on "Engaging Learners with Digital Content." The discussion will focus on the qualities of digital learning media that make it effective in the K-12 classroom. Press questions are welcome. Please contact Crista Sumanik at to reserve a space in the pressroom.

Throughout the conference from June 29 through July 1, Common Sense Media will conduct workshops and demonstrations of various digital educator resources that have received our highest rating for learning potential:
  • At booth #1526 on the convention floor, Common Sense Media will present the latest updates and features of Graphite, the trusted site to help educators source and use the best educational technology for K-12 classrooms. Developers of the industry's hottest educational technologies -- and winners of Common Sense Media ON for Learning Awards, including iCivics, Dreambox Learning, BrainPop, Khan Academy, MinecraftEdu, and more -- will demonstrate their popular learning products.
  • In room B311, Common Sense Media experts and certified educators will lead sessions focused on the best technology tools to enhance student learning.
  • At the Ed Tech Start-Up Pitch Fest, Common Sense Media will judge both the hotly contested preliminary rounds on Sunday, June 29, as well as the final round on Monday, June 30.
Please find the full schedule of Common Sense Media events at ISTE here: 

About Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media is a leading independent nonprofit organization offering the largest, most trusted library of independent age-based and educational ratings and reviews for everything kids want to watch, play, read, and learn. We provide comprehensive, free resources for schools and trustworthy information for parents to ensure kids learn how to be safe, smart, and responsible digital citizens who thrive in a world of media and technology. 

For more information, go to:

About LeVar Burton and RRKidz
Best known for his distinguished TV roles, most notably Kunta Kinte on “Roots,” Geordi La Forge on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Reading Rainbow,” LeVar Burton is widely recognized for his lifelong advocacy of children’s literacy. In 2011 he formed RRKidz with his business partner Mark Wolfe and launched the award-winning Reading Rainbow’s unlimited library of books and video field trips. They hold the global rights to the Reading Rainbow brand through a partnership with series creator, WNED/Buffalo.

Press Contacts:
Crista Sumanik
W: 415.553.6780

Alexis Vanni
W: 415-553-6728

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Movers, Shakers, and Makers at ISTE14

Are you attending ISTE this week? You may feel overwhelmed with the vast program and sessions from which to choose. You've already
experienced most of the "Top 10 Ways to..." sessions, so you If you are looking to dig a little deeper and be a part of the Maker Movement (or at least understand what it's all about), read on.

This post comes to you from Sylvia Martinez. Co-author of Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom.

From Sylvia:

This week, President Obama hosted the first White House Maker Faire, proclaiming a National Day of Making and encouraging young people to be designers, engineers, and inventors -- not just consumers. And he called for more programs and activities to mentor and empower a new generation of Makers.

You might expect that the Maker Movement in education will be a hot topic at ISTE this year - and you are right!

This year there is a big focus on makerspaces and making in schools - which I'm glad to be a part of. Last year it felt pretty lonely to be one of the only speakers talking about it. But this year, there are numerous events and sessions about making, maker education, design, 3D printing, robotics, microcontrollers, e-textiles, programming, and more.

I've created a Maker Playlist of some of the top Maker-related ISTE conference sessions and events. Hope to see you there -

Friday, June 27

Hack Education
Friday, June 27, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
GWCC B303/304

Mobile Mega Share
Friday, June 27, 2:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Saturday, June 28

Invent To Learn@ISTE 2014 workshop - robots, programming, electronic papercraft and sewing, 3D printing, and much more (plus lunch), lead by Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager.

Sunday, June 29

Technology transforms pedagogy: Combining the tools and the vision
Sunday, June 29, 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
GWCC B303/304

Student tech leaders to support digital transformation
Sunday, June 29, 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
GWCC Murphy Ballroom Galleria, Table 5

Genius hour 20% time: Best practices inspire creativity not chaos
Vicki Davis, Erin Klein, Karen Lirenman, Angela Maiers, Sylvia Martinez, Don Wettrick
Sunday, June 29, 12:45 p.m. - 1:45 p.m.
GWCC Sidney Marcus Auditorium

Designing your makerspace
Sunday, June 29, 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
GWCC Murphy Ballroom Galleria, Table 9

Digital Harbor Foundation Tech Center: Inner-City Baltimore Youth Makerspace
Sunday, June 29, 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
GWCC Murphy Ballroom Galleria, Table 41

The Maker Movement: Interactive electronics without programming
Sunday, June 29, 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
GWCC Murphy Ballroom Galleria, Table 2

Invent to Learn: Making, tinkering and engineering in the classroom (Gary Stager)
Sunday, June 29, 2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

STEM in K-5: Beebots to WeDo!
Sunday, June 29, 2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Monday, June 30

Build your world: Mobile makerspace at the Mobile Learning Playground (I'll be here - speaking towards the end)
Monday, June 30, 9:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
GWCC Building B, Level 3 (near Room B313)

School 2.0: Where are we headed
Monday, June 30, 10:45 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.

Student engagement: Best practices for inquiry-driven, project-based strategies
Monday, June 30, 12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Making sense of maker education
Monday, June 30, 1:15 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.
GWCC Murphy Ballroom Galleria, Table 38

STEAM (science-tinkering-aesthetics-engineering-math): Creating a maker culture
Monday, June 30, 1:15 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.
GWCC Murphy Ballroom Galleria, Table 9

Creating a makerspace: Makey Makey and Scratch
Monday, June 30, 12:30 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Design your school's R&D
Monday, June 30, 4:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Merging mobile, makers, and science education
Monday, June 30, 5:15 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Exploring earth and space science: Hands-on littleBits STEAM activities
Monday, June 30, 5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
GWCC A311/312

Tuesday, July 1

Maker's Playground and agile learning environments
Tuesday, July 1, 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
GWCC Building A, Level 3 (near Room A313)

Top 10 classroom tools of the maker movement (Sylvia Martinez)
Tuesday, July 1, 10:15 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.
GWCC Murphy Ballroom 3/4

Enriching elementary geometry curriculum with 3D printing
Tuesday, July 1, 11:45 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.

ISTE Mobile Learning Network: Merging mobile with the maker movement
Tuesday, July 1, 11:45 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.
GWCC Murphy Ballroom 1/2

Educational technology and makerspaces
Tuesday, July 1, 1:15 p.m. - 2:15 p.m.

Learn How to Use a 3D Printer - Right Now!
Tuesday, July 1, 1:15 p.m. - 2:15 p.m.

GWCC Tech Infrastructure Pavilion (booth 2448)

"The Maker Movement in schools now has a bible." - Larry Magid, Technology Columnist, Huffington Post, CBS News.