Relationships are the Revolution

I’m writing this post in response to another inspiring post from Ben Rimes and because of a quote I borrowed from Derek Muller‘s latest Educational Video: “This Will Revolutionize Education” While I do agree with many points that Derek makes, I don’t think technology is “the silver bullet.”  I do agree that if used correctly it can help steer students’ behaviors towards education, and I do think Derek was getting to the point of the teacher and student relationship.

Our relationships we build with our students will be “The Revolution.”  It’s not about the strategy, the shiny new technology, the best new research – It is all about the relationships we build with the students.  Everything we do has to focus on what is best for the students.  That is why we are here.  Our students need to be engaged and having fun in school.  Students will only fully achieve their potential when they want to do well. I made the following “Promises of Practice Ignite” for my Instructional Leadership Internship last week. Derek Muller‘s video definitely inspired parts of my Ignite, but without relationship building and students wanting to work for the teacher and themselves no technology will never revolutionize education.

AirScanner – Wireless Document Camera

AirScannerLeave it to Doug Saunders to find something awesome again!  AirScanner is FREE today (and has been for days – usually $4.99) for iOS. This app is amazing! Once you download and open the app, there is a “numbered website” that you enter into any web browser. Simply use that app that is access your camera and show whatever you content you want with your device.  No longer are you tied to your document camera or (yikes!) your overhead projector at the front of the classroom.  I will have to say is a tad laggy, so I wouldn’t suggest trying to who a lot of movement, but rather still images, manipulatives, or work from students at their desks would be an awesome use. I had fun playing with it for a second this afternoon making the never ending computer screen!  You’ll notice that the website you enter into any web browser is at the bottom of the screen.  What other fun uses do you see for this app?

This.Is.Target! . . . . . What about: This.Is.Education!

CRO_money_SS_retailer_reward_Target_logo_11-13Most of the time when I hear about people giving great motivational speeches I, as many probably do, think of sports movies, war movies, and the like. Some that come to mind are Any Given Sunday, Friday Night Lights, Rudy, Miracle, Braveheart, 300, Gladiator, Hoosiers, We are Marshall, Remember the Titans, and many more. Not only do we have these, but there are also great speakers like Eric Thomas and the amazing Educational TED Talks. We even have The Kid President making motivational pep talks.

This is the best thing about motivational speeches – They can come from anywhere! That being said, you still probably wouldn’t think of the retail store Target when it comes to motivational speeches. In steps an employee named Scott. Just prior to Target’s 2014 Black Friday Opening this guy jumps up on a checkout line and delivers an epic 55 second speech right before turning to the doors yelling, “Let them in!” Check it out:

Now this speech was a little 300-ish and had some silly moments, but what’s really awesome to me is that he had all of those other employees’ attention. That last push to get them pumped for what was about to happen is inspiring. I know if I was working that night at Target I would be fired up to work as a team and as a family to take on the opening that was about to come.

I find myself looking for more of this in education. We as educators should feel a sense of duty to want to motivate our students like this. More often than not, we simply expect our students to fall in line and just do the task laid before them, and then wonder, “Why are they so tired and bored?” We need to find ways to engage and inspire our students to take ownership of their learning. Just as Scott showed us, we all need a little motivating to complete the upcoming task at hand. We need to lead our students with a sense of contagious optimism and encourage a meaningful, common vision. This will lead to students becoming accountable for their learning and see it as a lifelong journey and not something to simply keep them busy. It will lead to them wanting to eagerly complete assignments. Students must be given the opportunity to maximize their potential, and they should be inspired to do so. We need to bring the excitement, the enthusiasm, and the fun back to the classroom, and if it takes a little “Checkout Stand Motivation,” I am all about it!

Planet Research Selfies

Our 4th grade students are going to be researching planets for their upcoming science unit. Once they are finished with their research, they are going to take the information they have learned and complete a non-fiction expository writing assignment about their planet. They will then pair their writing with an Instagram Planet Selfie Picture of themselves with their planet! Here’s a quick preview of what the students are going to be creating!  If you’d like to make your own planet or space selfie, you can download the Activinspire Template and the Astronaut Helmet Pic and get to work!


50 Embeddable Games for your Blog!

icon_galgjeGynzy is a website that prides itself on helping teachers get the most out of their interactive white boards. They have all kinds of posts and activities that you can skim through to gather new ideas to use in the classroom. You can even subscribe to get a weekly email with interactive white board tips and tricks. If you aren’t into subscriptions, then you need to at least check out their page with the 50 most popular interactive activities. The best thing is that these math, language arts, science, and social studies activities are free, and they provide a code that you can use to embed the games directly onto your website or blog! Check it out! I’ve embedded the Count with Money example below, so you can see what it looks like!

Lollipop Leadership

lollipop_pinWe often find ourselves in situations where leadership is needed and we ignore them because they seem too challenging or trivial. Leadership shouldn’t be just a top down notion. As leaders, we preach systematic problem solving; analyzing and breaking a problem into small pieces until it is solved. Why is it that our view of leadership does not follow that same thought process Small acts of leadership, lollipop leadership, occur more often and have just as profound, if not, more profound, effects as the idea of leadership we are used to. Making an impact in a students’ or coworkers’ life can be as small as handing them a lollipop, giving them a hug, or telling them they matter. Be that change to fundamentally make a difference and make someone’s life better!


icon175x175I just ran across an amazing app that could be extremely helpful in the classroom! PhotoMath is an app that will solve math problems simply by using your camera on your phone. Being obsessed with Augmented Reality, and this app having an AR feel, I was quickly hooked! Now, I can see teachers saying, “Why would I want an app that gives my students the answers?” My favorite feature:  The How-To Steps. After answering the question, the app allows you to flip through the steps on how to solve the problem. This would be an awesome way to help students walk through order of operation problems. Now, this app just became available a couple weeks ago, so there still are some higher level problems that the app cannot handle, but the company is working to update the app!

Below is an example I did off my computer screen.  The first picture is a problem I scanned off my computer, and you will notice the red box with the “12” as the answer.  I then clicked through each screen on the app to go through the steps of how to solve the problem.  Check it out!


Math Busters TV preview!


As you might have seen from our guest blogger, Jim Covais, on Friday, October 31st – HALLOWEEN – Our Kindergarten Team partnered up with Trevvett Elementary school and had 6 ITRTs come to both of our schools to become Math Busters! Our six ITRTs led whole group lessons and then broke out into six math stations and led our students in some amazing and engaging activities! In doing these centers and lessons, it also gave our teachers six brand new, hands-on applications they can add to their tool box to use in the classroom. HCPS-TV also came out to film the entire event, so here’s a quick preview to our kindergartners’ television debut coming soon

Kindergarten Math Busters!

Guest Blog Post from Jim Covais:

Last Friday I had the pleasure of participating in a ITRT meetup. ITRT meetups are a lot like a food truck meetup. The only difference is less food and more technology. (We don’t have a catchy name for our group, so if you have one please tell us!) We traveled to two wonderful schools, Fair Oaks Elementary and Trevvett Elementary where we worked with Kindergarten. We had a blast highlighting different technologies Kindergarten teachers can use everyday in their classroom.

We started the day off reviewing kindergarten concepts using the learner response system called Kahoot. Kahoot allows students to respond to multiple choice questions using any web enabled device. The students had a blast using Kahoot to review.

We broke the grade level into small groups where each group got to use a new technology tool. Check out what each ITRT did in their small group. If you have any questions contact any of us and we’ll get you all set up.

Matt Caratachea
Matt used Padlet and had a small group of kindergartners make different combinations of 5. Students showed many examples such as 3+2 and 4+1. The coolest part is when a child posts to a Padlet wall, all the other students can see the post as well. Padlet works on both iPads and laptop computers.

Click Here for Examples!


Julie Smith
Julie used Google Presentation in her small group. The kindergartners worked collaboratively to put the pumpkin life cycle in the correct order. Just as with Padlet, any change a student made to the presentation was visible to all students on their computers. It was so awesome to see these students working together.

Click Here for Examples!



Jim Covais
Jim used the iPad app Chatter Pix Kids. The students went on a shape hunt and took a picture of it using the app. They then used the app to make the shape talk. Students had their talking shape say the name of the shape and the number of sides.

Click Here for Examples!



Karen Hues and Sarah Green
Karen and Sarah cooked up a great graphing activity. Students tallied up different pictures of food that they pulled out of the mixing bowl. Most teachers would have stopped there and just asked which one has the most or which one as the least. Karen and Sarah took it to the next level and had the students take their results to the iPad app Easychart. The students then constructed a bar graph. This program is extremely user friendly for a kindergartner.

Click Here for Examples!


Jessica Robinson
Jessica had the students create different types of patterns using Halloween themed props. She then use the iPad app called Educreations to take the activity to the next level. The students were able to take a picture of their pattern and then explain what type of pattern it is and how they came up with the pattern. Such a useful tool to use in the classroom.

Click Here for Examples!


Tyler Hart and Ryan Stein
Tyler and Ryan played the game of Garbage using activinspire. Garbage is a game that most students play in their classroom in file folder game form. Students have to place numbers in order on a number line. If they pull a number that is already out, they place it in the garbage. Students used this familiar game to improve their number sense and to become more familiar with using activinspire. Many teachers don’t know that you can use flipcharts on a laptop as well as a Promethean board.

Click Here for Examples!