Archives For Assignments

mobile-handKids today live in an extremely connected world and they crave the instant gratification that can come with that level of connectivity.  They think so differently than generations of children before them.  They shift gears and thoughts before any adult can even blink an eye.  And this can lead to carelessness.  They post without thinking and that could come back to haunt them later.

Lisa Nielson suggests one reason to allow smartphones because we should be educating students with the tools they will use when they get to their professional life.  The idea of allowing cell phones in class on the premise that kids will be using smartphones in real life doesn’t work for me.  It’s one thing to argue on the basis of connectivity, collaboration, access to Blackboard, etc., but to suggest that we have an obligation to help students become proficient in their smartphone use is just silly in my honest opinion. Continue Reading…


Flipped learning is awesome, especially when there are awesome tools like PowToon available.  I really loved it and could go on, but you should check out my review on

In the meantime, enjoy some math!

one sizeDigital native?  Digital immigrant?  Are these things even real?  Depends on who you ask.  I do think some people take to technology more quickly than others.  If they didn’t, why would marketers have coined the term early adopters?  But are these labels enough to understand the ever-evolving world of tech, and more importantly, how can they, if at all, help us understand how this rollercoaster of buttons and apps applies, or should apply to education?

Speak Up is this great initiative to gain insight into student brains by Project Tomorrow, a non-profit that is “dedicated to the empowerment of student voices in education.”   Their annual report is full of facts and figures related to when, how, why, and where kids are using, or want to be using, technology in their learning.  So how does Speak Up get into these students’ thoughts?  Wait for it…THEY ASK THEM!  Such a novel idea, really.  They outline their findings in The New Digital Learning Playbook:  Understanding the Spectrum of Students’ Activities and Aspirations. Continue Reading…

Patience is a Virtue

June 28, 2014 — 2 Comments

mathI have long known math needed a makeover.  I knew this as a teenager when I tutored my classmates through algebra 2.  I knew it again in college when I had to put forth a ton of effort to find a calculus 2 or 3 class that did NOT require a graphing calculator (because I didn’t know how to use the darn things!).  I knew this, and it is what drove me (eventually) to the field of education.  Now, many years have passed – remember, not your typical grad student here – and I still think this. Continue Reading…

I love the concept of flipped learning.  I am so hopeful that I will be able to implement this in my classroom at some point.  But as cool as I think the idea of flipped learning is, I have a lot of concerns related to the digital divide.  What if I am in a school where financial situations prevent access for many children?  What if my school doesn’t have the resources available to allow for this on a full-class scale? Continue Reading…

So Much Fun!!!!!

June 18, 2014 — 2 Comments

OMG!  Digital storytelling is a BLAST!  Especially when you have an awesome group to work with and minions are involved!

My group retold the story of The King’s Commissioners by Aileen Friedman.  This is a great picture book showing different ways of counting.  BUT…we didn’t have a king or commissioners.  What we did have was even better, and way funnier.  We told the story using Grü and his minions.  Dr. Nefario even makes a cameo (though sans fart gun).

So take a look and have a laugh.  It’s great fun!

Too Many Minions from Evan McGrew on Vimeo.


June 14, 2014 — Leave a comment

I am totally one of those people who loves motivational posters.  They don’t have to be big.  They don’t have to be well known.  And I totally plan to wallpaper my classroom with motivators that will hopefully encourage my students to learn and be kind to each other and be kind to themselves.  I went to Big Huge Labs, and there is lots of stuff you can do there.  You can make trading cards, jigsaw puzzles, billboards, mosaics, the list is pretty long.  So here is a motivational poster I made using on Big Huge Labs.

motivation posted

The end result is a lot more promising that giving a mouse a cookie, as Laura Numeroff did.  Just look at the kids Scott McLeod talks about in his presentation, Extracurricular empowerment, at TEDxDesMoines.

I was fascinated by Martha’s story.  Maybe it was because McLeod spent so much time talking about Martha.  Maybe it’s because I have a connection to all things British with my husband and his family all being from Britain.  Maybe it was because she was using her social media skills to exact social change and provide charity.

Before writing today, I thought on watching again, especially the beginning, to learn more about some of the other kids he mentioned:  one with Pokemon videos earning a six figure salary, one who created an online magazine with a friend.  I can’t even remember their names. Continue Reading…

yellow brick roadParents expend so much time and energy worrying about screen addiction and whether or not the relationships kids form online will have the same value we as adults place on our person to person interactions that they may be missing the here and now with their own kids.  We have already had the conversation regarding technology and its permanence in our lives, let’s not waste another minute missing out on what our kids are doing.

Douglas Rushkoff makes a wonderful point in the FRONTLINE episode, Generation Like.    “We are asking the wrong questions” (when it comes to digital and social media).  He worries, “ What are companies doing to our kids through technology?”  And this really is the bigger question, the more important question we need to be asking. Continue Reading…

Sign Me Up!

May 25, 2014 — 5 Comments

So is technology bad for kids?  Are video games evil?  Do these things deter from kids’ abilities to learn?  No way!  According to Dr. John Gee, video games are just a set of problems you have to solve to move on.  Isn’t that the basis for learning in general?  We learn one thing, we build on it, and then we are able to move on to the next thing.  Gee thinks learning in the gaming environment is very complex.  He used his own gaming experiences as example.  I believe him.  I play video games with my kids.  Not overly complicated ones – I don’t have the patience to learn all the complexities involved with those.  (But give me a Lego video game and we are on!)

Just as in a video game, if you don’t learn/complete one section you don’t go on to the next level, learning systems are the same.  A well-designed, successful learning system cannot be completed without guaranteed learning.  You don’t move forward without learning.

So many parents get wound up about video games and the amount of time kids are playing them.  We hear concerns about kids being overly competitive.  We hear about fears of gaming addiction.  Dr. Henry Jenkins, Provost Professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication addresses the use of the term addiction in relation to gaming.  He considers it a cultural policing term and we need to be careful when we use it.   He offers the question, “Why is it when a kid stays up all night to finish a book he is driven, but the kid who stays up all night to beat a video game is an addict?”  It would seem that this term is sort of a double standard in that adults use it in reference to something they don’t like, or is not a priority to them, without taking into account what value kids place on gaming. Continue Reading…