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…

Fun with Pixlr!

June 3, 2014 — Leave a comment

Alien at Stonehenge

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…

Just a quick post…I was reading one of my new favorite blogs (te@chthought) just now and came across this awesome post full of tips for teaching with apps.  Aptly named 25 Tips for Teaching With Apps, this post has some great advice for responsibly and appropriately incorporating apps and their associated lessons into the learning space.

All really sound advice, but that wasn’t the coolest part.  There was this link in the post to this site called Edshelf.  Edshelf is like this clearing house (they call themselves a discovery engine) for all these really potentially cool apps and websites for education. This is TOTALLY the sort of thing us new teachers-to-be need to help us sift through what is good stuff and what isn’t.  I mean, check this out:


It works a little like Pinterest.  You can make collections by dragging and dropping icons into little boards.  You can make notes.  You can comment/rate apps.  You can see what other educators have had to say about apps.  I’m totally geeking out here!  Anyway, if you haven’t found this already – definitely check it out.  It’s free to create an account.  Edshelf.  It’s kinda awesome.

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…

PBS is awesome.  This is a truth I have known my entire life.  I grew up watching fabulous programming like Sesame Street, Electric Company, and 3-2-1 Contact.  Later, when I deigned to hang out with my parents, it was brilliant British comedies like Are You Being Served, Keeping Up Appearances, and Waiting for God.  And now I am a parent myself, and when my kids were little tykes, guess what they watched?  Yep.  PBS.  Sesame Street is still around, surround by more great content (except Caillou – Caillou is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me).  So the idea that Digital Media* New Learners of the 21st Century was amazing was not really a surprise.

The assignment here was to share my reaction to one of the programs highlighted in this video, and I will get to that eventually.  But what I really found more interesting and useful was the wonderful insight from experts that was interspersed in the vignettes. So much so that I was inclined to go view each of the in-depth interviews with those people to hear more of what they had to say.  And THAT is really where the awesome content in this video is.

The other day I was scanning Facebook and came across this:

tech bikes

It’s totally how it worked for me.  Yes, we had phones – landlines, mind you – but we didn’t really use them.  We went out and banged on doors to see if our friends were home.  Clearly I lived in a different world than today’s kids. Continue Reading…