21 Things 21st Century Teachers Should Do

If you aren’t following Ben Rimes on Twitter or his blog page you are really missing out. Ben is a K-12 Educational Technology Coordinator in Mattawan Consolidated School District, Michigan. I discovered this brilliant educator through Twitter and playing around with ds106, a Digital Storytelling open online course through Mary Washington University created by Jim Groom. If you haven’t checked it out, that’s another place I suggest you lose yourself. There are a lot of great ideas that seem geared toward higher education, but I was able to find some fun ideas like the 4-Icon Challenge that I did with my 3rd graders years ago.

Now that I am finished with my plugs and tangents here’s an awesome infographic that Ben Rimes created. Some of these aren’t even overly tech related and would be extremely fun things to do in your class! Go for it!

Egg Drop Experiment

Today I was able to hang out with our 5th grade classes today and help re-teach and review the Scientific Process. This by far is one of my favorite experiments to do with students. Mainly, because my version allows me to get on the roof of the school and drop things over the side! Ha! We had a blast recording our hypothesis, observations, and conclusions. I can’t wait to get back into the classes again and get our hands dirty again! If you’d like to use the sheet we used for recording our information feel free to download it below!

Scientific Investigation Experiment

Teamwork and Reflection Abound!

IMG_2887This week Mrs. Menon’s 3rd grade and Mrs. Kraegel’s 4th grade classes took on the Marble Challenge! It was awesome watching these students have to figure out how to work as a whole class to complete the challenge. The students found out real fast how hard the task would be if they rushed along by themselves and didn’t help the others.  There was obviously a lot of cross shouting communication across the room on who should be doing what during the process.

IMG_2895Participating in the challenge was extremely fun and rewarding for the students, but the most important part was our class meeting and debrief afterwards.  We talked about what made things difficult, why what they were doing at times didn’t work, and how we could make the challenge easier if we were to complete it again.  It was the perfect segue into how the same difficulties in the challenge mirror the difficulties that can arise in the classroom. It was (and always will be) exciting seeing the light bulbs of the students’ minds light up with understanding.  I can’t wait to see the continued team building occurring throughout the school over the next few weeks and making this year one the students will never forget!

No Photo Booth? No worries!

1005976_757531400940519_323775625_nDay 2 in the books, and boy has it been crazy–CRAZY FUN! Yes, the first days of school are always the most crazy and hectic, but they will always be right at the top of my favorite days of teaching. Everything is new, and building those brand new relationships with students is such a critical and impactful time. All of those “About Me” projects in classrooms pop up, and many teachers use the Photobooth App to have the students take pictures of themselves for their project.  With the switch of our new platform to Dell, our teachers have lost Photobooth. Oh no! What do we do?

In steps Pixect! Pixect, is an online, easy to use Webcam that allows you to take pictures and easily save to your computer. I mentioned using this website in my Back to School Selfie Project post, but I figured it needed it’s own glory since taking student pictures is such a big thing students and teachers love to do for projects. Some of the Pixect’s features include:

  • Online photo booth for taking photos with webcam
  • Add amazing cool webcam effects
  • Photo editing is easy and fun
  • Adjust pictures brightness, contrast, hue and saturation
  • Edit photos online with cool effects
  • Multi-Frame capture mode

Here are some quick steps to get started:

  1. Click the “Get Started Now!” button.
  2. Click the Green “Allow” button to allow Pixect to use your webcam.
  3. Click the Grey “Allow” button at the top of the web browser on the next screen
  4. Boom! Your smiling shining face should show up!
  5. Click the big camera button to take a picture.
  6. It will automatically give you options for sharing. Students can click the Save button, and then save it to their computer for later use.


saveAs stated earlier, there are many different options and extras that Pixect can accomplish. Try it out, find your favorite feature, and let your students create!

Place Value Partners

I’m going to start off and apologize to whomever I got this picture from. I am constantly on Twitter and Blogs finding fun ideas, and I saved this picture and totally forgot where I got this from. If its yours, THANK YOU!

BvmNHtcIgAITTgZThis is such a quick and easy Math Center to make for your students! I’m sure we all have extra boxes laying around somewhere. Simply cut them into rectangles, tape two blank laminated place value charts facing opposite ways, tape a random top from something to catch the dice, and write these questions down as a reminder for the students of what to ask each other:


On one side:
1. What’s the smallest number we can make?
2. What’s in the _________ place?
3. What’s the value of the __________ ?

On the other side:
1. What’s in the ________ place?
2. What’s the value of the __________ ?
3. What’s the largest number we can make?

If you want to write other questions, go for it! Anything getting the students collaborating and working together will be great!

How Can I Help You This Year?

10574420_10152299955251860_8832908599883805638_nAll too often we are drowning in data, data, and more data to help figure out and form the best action plans we can to help our students. Now, while this is a absolutely necessary to help our students make growth over the year, all too often, what the student feels they need help with is often overlooked.  During these first weeks of school, pull out some post-it notes and have your students tell you how you can help them succeed. What is their weakest area? What are their goals for the year? Do they just need someone to be there for them? Yes, some answers may be way off in what your trying to accomplish academically with them, but you will also find some very transparent answers from students who will greatly benefit from you being in their corner.  In the long run you’re building those powerful relationships and your students are going to know that you are looking out for their best interest. Start building those relationships from Day 1, and get your students to start working for not only you but also themselves!

This is THE Year – Let’s Do This!

10590509_10153069656464692_6900172841460164328_nToday I had a blast with my faculty having them work together to complete The Marble Challenge! I borrowed the materials from my man, Ryan Stein, so I had to give them back. I’ve already had a couple requests from my teachers wanting to borrow the materials to use with their students, so I ran out to Home Depot tonight to cut my own PVC pipes.  While wandering up and down the aisles like I was grocery shopping, it hit me right in the face!  Bright orange stacks of buckets with the quote, “Let’s Do This.”

A couple weeks ago, our county changed a lot of their header images on the Henrico County Website.  I was pretty pumped when I saw them and had to tweet about it.

I knew right then and there at Home Depot this evening this is going to be THE year.  The year to make a change. The year to do something outside the box. The year to motivate. The year to engage. The year to collaborate. The year to innovate. The year to improve your craft. The year to make a difference. The year for more fun! The first day of school is right around the corner! Let’s Do This!

The Marble Challenge!

This morning the Fair Oaks Faculty completed The Marble Challenge Team Building activity! What an awesome way to kick off the year working together and knowing we’ll all be there for each other!

This can also be an awesome way to start off the new year with your students! It can be a perfect way to work on team building with your students on the first day of class. It will also be a great way for you to see how each student responds in a group wide activity and see who your natural leaders, followers, introverts, and extroverts in the classroom will be as well! Check out the PDF below, so you can use this in your class:

The Marble Challenge

Bad Math Photos!

Great critical thinking lesson idea!  Use photos from the Bad Maths Flickr Group Page. The The Bad Math Flickr Group defines itself as “a place to store all those images of crazy special offers and examples of things that just don’t add up. The aim is to be able to use these in math lessons.”  I’ll have to admit there are some pretty amazing ones there.  The clock below is my favorite!  **Note, many of the pictures in the Flickr Group use the sign for “pounds” instead of “dollars,” so you might have to have the conversation about these signs.**

Be on the look out to take some pictures of your own Bad Math out in the real world.  Better yet, challenge your students to take their own pictures and bring them in to class. Using these images would be a great way to get conversations and critical thinking skills going in the classroom. It could be a great way to start off every class to get those minds working! Why are these pictures showing bad math? Would this be a deal that you would want to take? Why or why not? What a great way to bring math to life, and show your students real life examples of why math is important.  Here are a couple pictures I ran across that I thought were intriguing:

penny.patterson on Flickr

curlywick_cavies on Flickr

PowToon Free Accounts!

powtoonPowToon Education
is giving away free accounts!  Say What?!  That’s right they are giving away FREE accounts!  To celebrate the 5 million PowToons that have been created, PowToon is giving away 5 MILLION dollars worth of classroom accounts for teachers!  Actually is is 50,000 accounts at $96/year, so it is actually $4.8 million, BUT WHO CARES?!  It is a FREE account!  How do I go about getting this free account?  Simply Click this “ToonUp” Link, and click the “Get Yours FREE now” button.  Don’t forget to use the Promo Code: ToonUp5M! It is case sensitive, so make sure you enter it exactly that way…

What is PowToon? PowToon defines themselves as a tool designed to allow education professionals (and students) to create content that is visually engaging, captivating and fun to make.

Check out these tutorials to help you learn how to create awesome PowToons!