Thing #21- Emerging Technologies

Moving at the Speed of Creativity!

I visited the blog page of Wes Fryer’s “Moving at the Speed of Creativity” (, and one of the postings was about Creating Multimedia eBooks.  The posting actually linked to an audio file of Wes presenting this idea in a Chicago conference, which was pretty cool.  I was able to attend an hour-long conference given in Chicago without leaving the comfort of my living room!  Fryer maintains that a student-created eBook will provide a unique opportunity for students to “show what they know” in a narrative that gives them someplace to make meaning of their education.

A student-created eBook in the math classroom might work differently than in English class.  This would be the perfect chance for students to “show what they know” using informational and technical writing rather than the narrative, creative writing they’ve become so familiar with.  They could create a book on How to Solve Exponential Equations or How to Use the Vertical Line Test…the possibilities are endless!  Using any number of the digital storytelling tools discussed in Thing #19, students could show what they know through something other than the typical paper-and-pencil test.

eBooks could be used as a form of assessment in the classroom, but the creation of the book fulfills a number of CITW best practices.  Through reinforcing effort and providing recognition, students will be published authors, and I’m not sure what gets much better than that as far as recognition.  Students are able to do summarizing and note-taking as they put together the information needed for their math eBooks, and they will certainly need some non-linguistic representations as storyboards and other organizational tools are used to put their story together.

The production of these student-created eBooks will modify and redefine the lesson through the SAMR Model.  A common task might ask students to write what they know about exponential equations or even complete 20-30 practice problems.  The collaboration and sharing of this book also redefines what was ever thought possible in this type of lesson.  Students can use technology to open up their math world from something mundane to something that engages and interests them.

Future Trends!

Wow!  I was simply blown away by the emerging technology tools that almost seem like something from the SciFy channel rather than something that could potentially be used in my classroom, realistically!  I was particularly fond of the 3D printer.  We explore volumes and surface areas of 3D objects often in 7th grade geometry lessons, and the 3d printer would allow students to construct their own 3d objects.  The programming tools are essential to our students because as they are strong consumers of technology, it is also important for them to  learn how it all works, as well. This would certainly lead to a potential career in programming and engineering.  However, the one item that was literally jaw-dropping was Google Glass.  My husband and I travel quite a bit, and to be able to bring my experiences back to my students, even LIVE, is something that you just can’t put a pricetag on…especially in the rural, low-income community in which I teach.  The students in my classroom typically haven’t ever left the state, let alone the country, and so something like Google Glass would give them an educational experience like no other.  I can envision the social studies teacher taking something like this on the 8th Grade Washington, DC trip (only about 1/3 of the class is ever able to afford to go).  Those students that stay behind could link up with their teacher an be right  there in DC with the rest of their classmates!  Amazing!  Truly amazing!  For math, I could take Google Glass along to show where math can be found in all corners of the world, or go into another math classroom in another country (we are visiting Jamaica next spring, and I already have plans to visit a middle-level classroom) and share with my students.  Wow!!  Watching the video of the advanced physics teacher nearly brought me to tears…. THIS is what teaching is all about!


I see the importance and the trend of BYOD in classrooms, but because or school policy for so long has included a strict enforcement and zero tolerance of “no cell phones or electronic devices in the classroom” rule…this is going to be a tough adjustment for me, only because I am so programmed that devices in the classroom are “bad”.

Pros…Students won’t have to rely on the iPads on the cart to be available to us for the hour or for a computer lab to be free…they will already have their device.  It would also give the students an opportunity to use their device for something other than the Facebook ranting and Twitter crawling in which they currently participate.   They can become more educated in how to use technology above and beyond the basics.

Cons…My biggest concern is that because the school policy has been so strict in the past, students will see a BYOD policy as a “free for all”.  I worry that they’ll have their devices out, texting, and they won’t get ANYTHING educational completed in class.  I worry that they will be taking pictures/videos of each other, and me, and the information will be posted out of context and in embarrassing circumstances for all parties involved.

My opinion….it’s certainly a trend that can be a great resource, provided the structure and consistent rules are put in place.  Our principal has already proposed a new cell phone policy that involves the colors discussed in the Thing #21 lesson.  The red, yellow, green status of the classroom should help to remind students of what should be going on with their devices at any given time.  The zero tolerance policy of our school board was creating a battle that the faculty just could not win.  Perhaps as we teach students the appropriate use of their devices in a public setting, they will be better prepared for their lives after school.

ISTE Standards

1a Promote, support, and model creative and innovative thinking and inventiveness – Applying something such as Google Glass into the classroom would certainly be an example of promoting, supporting, and modeling an innovative way of thinking.

2d Provide students with multiple and varied formative and summative assessments aligned with content and technology standards, and use resulting data to inform learning and teaching – As students create their own eBooks, as mentioned above, they would be producing an excellent example of what exactly the understand about the content discussed.  The information gathered from their books would certainly let the instructor know what needs to be adjusted and discussed next.

5b Exhibit leadership by demonstrating a vision of technology infusion, participating in shared decision making and community building, and developing the leadership and technology skills of others – As I was reading through the blog of Wes Fryer (, I noticed that there was a call for Google certified teachers and trainers.  This would be something that I would LOVE to do.  Over the summer, I have taken this whole Google world (which had been a completely confusing mystery to me), and turned it into something that I’m already using in my BLiC course and intend to use with my students.  As a Google educator, I would be able to share this with my colleagues and my community as well.

CITW – Best Practice

1 Cues, questions, advanced organizers – Taking all of the emerging ideas and tools in technology and putting them to use for students will take some dedication.  It’s difficult to make changes, especially when it is easier to just keep things the same as they were before.  Pushing students to ask questions about what type of tool or resource could be created to make a specific task easier, encouraging them to develop those ideas….that true learning!

Assigning homework and practice – Students could be asked to research or try out an emerging tool and report back to the class.  This would encourage them to try new things and to become critical consumers, determining what works best for them and their situation.


Thing #20 – Blended or Flipped Classrooms

You know, it’s sad to say that as I near the end of this 21 Things course, I’m wishing there were another 21 things to learn about.  I have so much to say, but I’m getting ahead of myself here.  There will be more time for that later!  Right now, I need to share my experiences with creating videos.  My Math Lab class was “blended” last year in that I had students work a lot with Khan Academy individually while I took the time to work with individuals and small groups.  I veered away from making my own videos because….well… seemed like it was going to be kind of hard, I wasn’t sure how to run any of the software (I had a Snagit license from the BLiC class that I had yet to even install, let alone figure out how it worked), and….well, it was just too much to wrap my head around.

And then Thing #20 comes along.  In today’s virtual meeting, I was hoping for some sort of  impossibly easy way to get around this assignment.  After about an hour of playing around with Jing AND my newly installed Snagit (sad, but I’m now looking at both icons at the top of my screen), I can’t imagine what I thought was so difficult this whole time!!  It’s just like teaching to my students in the classroom, only I can’t see them.  I wish someone would have made me do this sooner!!


I must say that I love, love, love Jing.  The majority of my evening was spent with it, and so that’s where I’m most comfortable right now.  I’m sure, given some time and experience with video captures, I’ll come to love Snagit and all of its editing features just as much.

I have not recorded a video for my junior high students just yet.  That’ll be later tonight after I get my thoughts down here.  What I did was create a short video on how to do an assignment for my BLiC class that just started Monday.  I had a couple of participants that had questions on the same assignment…I slowly put 2 and 2 together today as I was trying to figure out what I was going to do for the Thing #20 assignment.  Why not just create a video for my BLiC participants??  Here is a screen shot (courtesy of Snagit….which I am falling in love with, even as we speak) that shows my posting in the Course Questions forum of my BLiC class… only because you won’t be able to get in as a student.  I guess this would be my proof that it’s out there.



If you want to see the video for yourself, just follow the link.


The feedback from one particular BLiC participant came rolling in right away.  She was thrilled for the help…turns out she was mistaking what a “screenshot” really was, and so we were able to clear up that misconception right away.  It’s not my best work, to be sure, but I was so excited to get it posted (and even more excited to start making videos for my students), forgive the imperfection.


Strengths…I’m pretty proud of myself from avoiding a lot of “ummm….” and “ahhhh….” talk.  It’s one of my pet peeves, and I think strong preparation ahead of time really does avoid that path.  If you know exactly what you are going to talk about, you don’t feel the need for those types of time fillers.  I am also one to mumble a lot and I talk really fast, but I think I did a very nice job of speaking slowly and clearly in the video.

Weaknesses…I think my lack of experience with the technology of these tools may show.  It feels like I am spending a lot of time learning the technology right now, rather than the quality of what is being presented.  I suspect that will begin to clear up over time with practice.  My mind is also racing with all of the things I want to do with Jing and Snagit, and I tend to get overwhelmed when that happens.

The best strategy for making my next video recording even better is to do another one tonight.  It will build that confidence and give me more practice.  I think that will give my mind a chance to sort out how I want to use these videos in my classroom.  I definitely think that when I’m out for a conference, students will no longer have to wait for me to return to start something new.  I’ll be right there with them!  My next video will be better…I want to give Snagit a try, and actually use some of the writing and editing tools to show students how to solve some math problems.

ISTE Standards

Facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity – Creating videos for students to view in either a blended or flipped environment provides me with the time I need to work with students more closely.  I’m not bogged down by standing in front of the class all hour going on and on and on…telling the students in the back to be quiet or to get out their math binders.  Students will take more responsibility for their own education, leading to higher interest and participation.

2b Develop technology-enriched learning environments that enable all students to pursue their individual curiosities and become active participants in setting their own educational goals, managing their own learning, and assessing their progress – The blended and flipped environment do just this for students.  Students are no longer tied to what I want them to know, how I want the to learn, when I want them to learn….and so on.  They can discover and explore the content in new and different ways, learning as much as they like, however they choose.

3c Communicate relevant information and ideas effectively to students, parents, and peers using a variety of digital age media and formats – I now have the freedom to not only make educational videos for students, but I can make videos that shows parents how to check their child’s grades online, videos for my colleagues showing them how a new digital age tool might work in their classroom…the opportunities are endless!

4b Address the diverse needs of all learners by using learner-centered strategies providing equitable access to appropriate digital tools and resources – Students of all learning styles and capabilities will not only have more time with me in the classroom to help them directly, but they will also have access to videos that they can rewind and pause and watch as many times as necessary until they either “get it” or they are able to formulate a question that will lead to understanding.

CITW – Best Practices

Setting objectives and providing feedback – A video can clearly state right up front exactly what will be discussed in the content.  As in the case with my BLiC participants, I was able to quickly provide feedback in the form of a tutorial video that cleared up a misconception.

Cues, questions, and advanced organizers – If a hear a number of questions being repeated as I walk around to individual groups and partners, I can re-adjust my instruction and include a video that would address those questions.  Basically, the students and their level of understanding will drive the curriculum.

Summarizing and note-taking – The videos provide that “playback” feature that will encourage strong note-taking and summarizing skills for students.  I only hope they understand that not EVERY class will give them this unique characteristic.

Assigning homework and practice – I completely understand the theory behind giving the content of a lesson as the homework for students.  With videos, they have a chance to re-watch and pause as often as necessary.  That leaves their time with me as a chance for me to answer questions, iron out any misconceptions, and I get the chance to see how well they really do understand the material.

Thing #19 – Digital Storytelling

Digital Storytelling!

I was able to play around a bit with the Storybird tool ( and create a story problem for my students to solve.  In the spirit of Dan Meyers and his Three Act math problems, I created a problem that didn’t necessarily give every piece of information to students, but instead gave them the chance to explore a relatively real world situation and answer in a way that makes sense to the student.  I probably gave away too much information as it is, but it’s a start.  After going through and solving the problem that I have presented, students will be asked to create their own digital story problem.  Not only have I modeled digital storytelling, but I have redefined and modified my original lesson to make a richer, more meaningful experience for students.  I would say that creating their own story problems, sharing, and solving would be much more beneficial than completing a worksheet of story problems.  Every year, I have students that routinely skip the story problems in the homework assignments in the book because they say they are too confusing.  If they begin to create their own story problems, students will be looking at the problem from the other side, hopefully not nearly as intimidated by all of the words anymore!  Here is my Storybird, entitled “Karl Gets Lost”.

Karl Gets Lost


Reactions From Others!

Two of my colleagues looked at this, and they were both amazed.  One happens to be an English teacher, and she couldn’t wait to get her students working on one of these this fall.  The other was a math teacher, and I don’t think she’s stopped talking about it yet.  We have been struggling in the math department for years trying to get students to tackle these story problems.  Perhaps by putting the power of the students’ education into THEIR hands, they will have more of an investment and interest in moving forward.  As much as I loved Storybird, I felt a little limited by having to make my story match the pictures, and I would like to try another source the next time.  Using my own photos and videos to create real world problems might be easier.

Practice with SoundCloud!

I created an account in SoundCloud, and discussed the benefits of digital storytelling for students.  Students reach a different level of thinking as they go through the assignment, and they are provided with multiple means of expression, content, and technology standards.  The audio file is linked below.

SoundCloud Audio Clip on Digital Storytelling


ISTE Standards

1b – Engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources – Though the original intent of this thing was to create a story through digital means, I was able to turn this into a story problem for students.  Students can solve the problems and then create their own through the use of the digital storytelling resources.

2c Customize and personalize learning activities to address students’ diverse learning styles, working strategies, and abilities using digital tools and resources – Not every student thinks like I do, especially when it comes to math.  I am very linear and procedural, but more and more students crave that need for creativity, especially in this digital age.  With digital storytelling tools, students are able to access those types of learning styles that they maybe couldn’t before in the typical math classroom.

3d Model and facilitate effective use of current and emerging digital tools to locate, analyze, evaluate, and use information resources to support research and learning – The use of digital storytelling tools allows the instructor to model a different way to solve math problems, opening the door for student learning.

4a Advocate, model, and teach safe, legal, and ethical use of digital information and technology, including respect for copyright, intellectual property, and the appropriate documentation of sources – Though I have been guilty of  letting this idea slip in the past, through consistent modeling, students will learn the importance of protecting themselves, their creations, and their ideas.  I was sure to include the Creative Commons license on both my Storybird book and my audio recording.

5d Contribute to the effectiveness, vitality, and self-renewal of the teaching profession and of their school and community – The SoundCloud resource allowed me to easily share my thoughts and ideas about digital storytelling and its benefits.  Sharing these thoughts on my face of the classroom and the blog shows that I have made a contribution to the teaching profession.

CITW – Best Practices

Summarizing and note-taking – There were a number of storyboard organization sites that were shared in this thing that would allow students to take notes and include the elements of digital storytelling.

Non-linguistic representations – Using photographs, videos, and provided artwork is the essence of digital storytelling.  Students will be able to demonstrate their understanding of objectives without the use of the written word.

Setting objectives and providing feedback – A SoundCloud or Audacity audio recording would allow the instructor to upload and provide feedback to a student’s work directly.

Cues, questions, and advanced organizers – The digital story problem book that I created includes questions within the story.  Students are asked about halfway through the book as to what information would be necessary to complete the problem.  Also, there are elements of creating a storyboard for a student’s own story problem that help him/her to organize thoughts.

Identifying similarities and differences – As students work collaboratively and explore the work of others, they will quickly be able to compare the similarities and differences in their stories with that of their peers.  In my particular situation, it would be great if they could see that the stories that they are creating all result in linear functions!



Thing #18 – Dig the Data

Spreadsheets and Charts from School Data!

Using Google Sheets, I was able to take a closer look at my district’s data for the 7th Grade MEAP testing in math.  I looked over a 5 year time-frame, and I was able to investigate how the economically disadvantaged students compared to those without an economic disadvantage.  I sorted the Sheet in the year column, only because it made the most sense.  You can find the Sheet as well as a bar chart by following the link.


Perception and Process Data!

I had to change the questions a bit in my Perceptions and Process data from Thing #17 in order to get some data that I could actually analyze.  I ended up re-asking teachers how many hours they spent outside of the regular class time with students per week, on average, and then what they actually did with students.  From there, I asked teachers if they felt the school was safe and how many referral forms they handed out to students, on average, per week.  The results were quite interesting.  It looks like the more teachers were involved and willing to be advisors, coaches, and tutors outside of the regular class time, the more likely they were to view the school as safe and to give out less referral forms.  I was able to sort the data by first names only, which are fictitious to protect those that were willing to help me out again, and I calculated both sums and averages of the numeric columns.  The chart gives a clear picture of the information.  You can see that they higher the time spent with students, the lower the referrals.  Also, the less time spent with students, overall, the more referrals.  You can find this information in Google Sheets.

In the Classroom!

Online polling could be used in the classroom at the end of a unit exam or test.  I could quickly ask students how much time they spent studying for the assessment, total.  I could then ask them to reveal their letter grade.  I could take those two pieces of information and quickly create a quick and easy spreadsheet and chart that would allow students to see (hopefully) that they more time spent studying does pay off in the end.  This would be done anonymously, of course, to protect student grades.  We could also collect data about how much time students spend watching tv or browsing the internet and compare that to the current grade in the classroom.  I am pretty sure the results would not be surprising to educators or parents.

ISTE Standards

1a Promote, support, and model creative and innovative thinking and inventiveness – Collecting data and analyzing into some form of useful information certainly models that creative and innovative thinking.

2d Provide students with multiple and varied formative and summative assessments aligned with content and technology standards, and use resulting data to inform learning and teaching – Taking the information from a recent test or even an informal exit slip will give the instructor enough information to inform the direction of the curriculum.

3b Collaborate with students, peers, parents, and community members using digital tools and resources to support student success and innovation – The data that is collected and analyzed could be shared with students, parents, and even members of the community so show progress.  It’s difficult to just say the students are performing better in math, but when you can show them a tangible piece of evidence that supports that claim, the results are difficult to argue.

CITW – Best Practice

Setting objectives and providing feedback – With spreadsheets, it is easy to set a specific objective and track the results.  Perhaps an instructor collects data, ensuring that all students will perform at grade level by the end of the school year.  Through frequent assessments an analysis of data, an instructor can adjust the instruction methods to make every student successful.

Reinforcing effort and providing recognition – That same spreadsheet could be used to determine which students are still struggling and need some extra help.

Cues, questions, and advanced organizers – The very format of a spreadsheet and the chart itself lend themselves to belong in the advanced organizer category.  Encouraging students to look for and understand what the spreadsheet means can allow them to begin to clarify the information.

Non-linguistic representation – The quick and easy charts that can be created with the information provided in the spreadsheet can simply tell the story of the data.

Assigning homework and practice – Students could be assigned the task of creating a spreadsheet and chart, and then analyzing the information.

Identifying similarities and differences – Through some quick analysis of the information collected in the spreadsheet and the chart, the user will easily be able to find some comparisons.  For example, in the chart provided above in part 1, a pattern quickly develops, showing that the economically disadvantaged students are doing poorly both in our district and across the state.  Gaps in the data can be found.

Generating and testing hypothesis – The analysis of this data will allow students both to make a prediction of what the data will show, and to test that prediction.  Students can predict what will happen if they study more, and when the spreadsheet and chart are created, chances are that they will see that the more you study, the better your grade on the test.

Thing #16 – DI and UDL

Differentiated Learning!

In order to address differentiated learning, there are a number of things that I already use in instruction.  Here are just a few examples.

  • Align tasks and objectives to learning goals – Using the Common Core and district curriculum as my guidelines, I create lessons and activities that build student learning.  Each class is different, and so I find that I can’t just do the same thing year after year.  My curriculum guide is a living, breathing document that changes with each group of students.
  • Flexible grouping is consistently used – Depending on the specific lesson or activity, we rotate among whole class groups, small groups, and pairs to construct student knowledge.  I regularly re-assign groups based on the content of the activity, keeping in mind student strengths and capabilities.
  • Students are active and responsible explorers – I regularly check to make sure each group and partnership is appropriately challenged.  If a particular student is rushing through something that is too easy, warning flags go up for me.  I regularly reflect and readjust to ensure that each student is interested and eager to move forward.
  • Emphasize critical and creative thinking as a goal in lesson design – I always try to make sure that math isn’t a class where students take notes, and then do a bunch of problems.  I try to create an environment in which they make connections to the real world, seeing the importance of math in everyday life.  We go through problems that may not even have an exact answer, but rather we emphasize the problem solving process.

Diverse Learning!

I think the best tool that can be used in the math classroom to support a struggling learner would be a graphic organizer.  There are several types available, specifically discussed back in Thing #3, and if students could see the big picture of how certain math concepts are connected together, perhaps they would see the value behind the content that is being addressed.  These could be student- or teacher-created, and they could be started at the beginning of a unit and readjusted as new information is shared.  With color-coding, text-reading, and image capabilities, students would have a solid map of the unit.  Another graphic organizer could be a rubric, something that would set clear expectations for students early on in the unit or lesson.

Universal Design for Learning!

In the math classroom, I use math manipulatives every time I possibly can.  If students can feel it and touch it, it gives them one more way to help their brains remember the concepts.  When we go through a probability unit, I have students flip coins several times to see if that whole “50/50” thing is real.  If students flip the coin 20, 30, or even 50 times, they may not get the true sense of what it means for two outcomes to be equally likely.  However, if we use a virtual math manipulative that can flip the coin for them 100 or even 1000 times in seconds, they can see for themselves that the outcomes do theoretically balance out.  I have used the Shodor site frequently ( and the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives ( for my students.  I do have a classroom set of graphing calculators for students to quickly make comparisons in their graphs, but not all students have access to these calculators at home.  I see there is a Graphcalc resource ( that students could potentially use at home if they have been absent or would like to explore what we have learned in class a little more.  Each of these virtual manipulatives will certainly get math into the hands of ALL students.

Text-to-Audio Conversion!

I used the Natural Reader site ( to convert a paragraph of this posting into an audio recording.  I ended up downloading the free program onto my laptop.  I never realized how easy it was to use these text-to-audio programs, and as my “face” of the classroom becomes more of a place for students to access lessons and resources online, I would like to include this website for student use.  I often have students with low reading capabilities, and as my 7th grade curriculum consists of a number of real world problems and scenarios, this text-to-audio idea would be essential for these students.  They wouldn’t be bogged down by all of the reading, but rather, they would be able to focus on the math of the lesson.  However, as I include more student writing into my curriculum, these text-to-audio resources could also be used for students to double check the grammar and “feel” for what they have written.  My students are famous for writing something down, and then just submitting it without giving it a second thought.  If they ran what they had written through one of these text-to-audio programs, perhaps they would hear the ridiculousness of some of their writing.

Text to Audio Converter

ISTE Standards

1a Promote, support, and model creative and innovative thinking and inventiveness – Providing an environment in which every learner can be successful is my job as a teacher, and putting simple strategies in place to help each and every student only makes sense.  With tools such as the text-to-audio converters and online math manipulatives, all students will get their chance at math success.

2c Customize and personalize learning activities to address students’ diverse learning styles, working strategies, and abilities using digital tools and resources – Without actually going through and making three different versions of the same lesson to address students needs, using simple differentiated learning and UDL strategies will still reach the diversity of learners in the classroom.  Through flexible grouping and creating innovative and engaging lessons and activities for students, the instructor will be able to reach all student learning styles, working strategies, and abilities.

3a – Demonstrate fluency in technology systems and the transfer of current knowledge to new technologies and situations – Simply being aware of the elements of differentiated instruction, diverse learning, and UDL resources, the instructor will be able to transfer that knowledge through digital age tools.  Through continued use and practice of these elements, the instructor will then easily be able to move that knowledge to the newest and most updated technology tools and situations.

4b – Address the diverse needs of all learners by using learner-centered strategies providing equitable  access to appropriate digital tools and resources – Through the use of something like the text-to-audio converters, instructors will be providing all learners equitable access to the lessons and activities provided.  This would be true of the virtual math manipulatives that were discussed earlier as well.

CITW – Best Practices

Cues, questions, and advanced organizers – In order to make the curriculum accessible to each and every student, a graphic organizer could be used to outline the upcoming unit and to outline expectations.  Color-coding and images paired with text-to-audio conversions will provide a big picture of understanding for students.

Summarizing and note-taking – As students take notes or summarize particular portions of a lesson or activity, they could run it through a text-to-audio converter program to ensure that what they have written makes sense.  The students could also use the converter to read certain portions of the textbook or articles to them, allowing them to focus on what they would need to write down for notes or summaries.

Assigning homework and practice – The text-to-audio converter could easily be included in the “face” of my classroom, and the students that are working on homework and practice individually could use it to read the assignments to them, it could help them read the assigned text, and it could even read back their written responses.

Thing #13 – Digital Images


Have you noticed yet that there are exclamation points behind every one of my topics in these postings??  It’s only because each and every “thing” I encounter is better than the last, and I’m SUPER excited about sharing all of it in my classroom!  The newest, most exciting thing of all was found at Voki.  I was able to create my own ultra-cool avatar at, I included a background image of my favorite place in the world, Aruba, and I recorded a welcome message before posting it all to my Weebly site.  Take a look at that!


Voki Avatar


I plan on including the link to my Weebly site with the orientation letter that will go home to parents in mid-August, and I’m anxious to hear reactions from students when they encounter my Voki!



This is another site that I can imagine using frequently.  My Student Council representatives take a lot of pictures for the yearbook, and I have typically stored everything on my classroom computer.  This year, the switched out my computer halfway through the year, and I ended up having to download all of the pictures all over again.  With a photo-sharing site such as Snapfish, this would have been so much easier!  As I am looking at this site, I see that there are so many gift options and projects to create.  The possibilities are endless!  I uploaded a beach scene, taken from our last vacation.  The site below should take you to my saved Snapfish photo.


I have heard educators talking about Photopeach before, but I was never sure what all the fuss was about.  Wow!  Yet another amazing “thing” that has immediately sent my mind racing.  With students always wondering where in the world they will ever use math outside of the math classroom, I put together a few slides that will get students thinking about the fact that math is indeed everywhere!  This is a quick icebreaker that I would like to start students with on the first day of school, and perhaps they could even add their own photos to upload to me.  That would definitely make the Photopeach slide show even BETTER next year!  You can find the brief show by clicking here…

ISTE Standards

1a Promote, support, and model creative and innovative thinking and inventiveness – My Voki avatar that appears on my Weebly site will be the first indication to students and parents what kind of year it will be experienced.  My intention is for my students to be more engaged, opening up that innovative and inventive thinking.

2a Design or adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity – With the photo sharing and editing capabilities of the resources that were shared, student creativity has not limits.

3b Collaborate with students, peers, parents, and community members using digital tools and resources to support student success and innovation – Again, the photo sharing and editing resources will make for an excellent yearbook this year.  Academically, students can use their own photos to create unit projects that will speak volumes as to what they have learned.

4b Address the diverse needs of all learners by using learner-centered strategies providing equitable access to appropriate digital tools and resources – When students are allowed to edit and share their own photos, they quickly become aware that they are in charge of their own learning.

CITW – Best Practice

1 Non-linguistic representations – Working with photos, editing them, and even creating their own avatar, students will be working with the best practice of non-linguistic representations.  There are no words, but each pictures if worth a thousand of them.

Identifying similarities and differences – Students could take a look at two different pictures, determining what the similarities and differences are in each set of pictures.  Furthermore, they could create a Photopeach slide show that would highlight the similarities and differences in two different math concepts, such as linear and exponential functions.

Cues, questions, and advanced organizers – The instructor of a math classroom could have students create an advanced organizer that will show real world connections that can be made when discussing integers.  There is just SO much that can be done with this “thing”!

Thing #12 – Interactives

Google Earth!

I simply adore this interactive site, and have often been found looking up places here.  For a math class, I could have students locate the birthplaces of famous mathematicians as we explore the history of mathematics.  For our good friend Pythagoras, we need to locate Samos, Greece.  Nearby, there is Vathy, a natural harbor that is near the home of Pythagoras.  It doesn’t appear that Google Earth will allow me to put a placemark, and my desktop was not playing nice with Google Earth, but you can see from this screenshot that there has already been a point created at Vathy.




Vocabulary is something that I struggle with and promise myself that my students need to do more with EVERY year.  With Quizlet, I may actually have found a resource for my students to become more familiar with what vocabulary words we will be using in class.  I created a short set of flashcards with ratio vocabulary words at .  I plan to provide a set of flashcards at the beginning of each unit, encouraging students to practice the words with the promise of a quiz on those same words at the end of the unit.  In the SAMR model, I think this would be an example of the ‘substitution’ area simply because with a given list of vocabulary words, students will not be creating or analyzing anything, they will simply be defining, explaining, comparing, and so on.


Students LOVE games, regardless of what they may or may not be learning along the way.  With MangaHigh (, students can practice specific math content areas through high interest games.  Hovering over each game will give the user an idea of which types of skills will be addressed in the game.  This would be a great site for my Math Remediation class.  These are the students that already feel as though they aren’t very good at math, and the majority of the hour is spent building their confidence.  If students can be successful through a short, interactive game, they may slowly build the positives for math.

ISTE Standards

1 – Facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity – I think that any instructor that can provide the high-quality, interactive resources that were described in this “thing” will have students eager to take part in their own education.

2b Develop technology-enriched learning environments that enable all students to pursue their individual curiosities and become active participants in setting their own educational goals, managing their own learning, and assessing their own progress – The Quizlet site, in particular, will allow students to quickly see how well they know the given vocabulary.  They would be able to set individual goals (such as getting at least 80% of the vocabulary words correct) and through the site, the students will be certainly be able to see how well they have achieved these goals.

4b Address the diverse needs of all learners by using learner-centered strategies providing equitable access to appropriate digital tools and resources – With math interactive sites such as Illuminations and IXL, the instructor is able to provide a variety of lessons that are geared towards several different learning styles, meeting those diverse needs of students.

CITW – Best Practices

Cues, questions, and advanced organizers – Students can be asked to locate two cities in the United States that they would like to visit.  Using Google Earth or Google Maps, the students could calculate distances and develop a budget for a vacation that would include the two places.

Assigning homework and practice – The teacher could assign students to practice math vocabulary words through a Quizlet set or through VocabularySpellingCity.  This would provide strong and valuable practice for students.

Non-linguistic representations – The reality of the images provided by Google Earth will not leave anything to the imagination.  Students can look up an actual picture of the Eiffel Tower or the war-torn area of Israel rather than simply trying to visualize the places.  The street-view and ground-view features make the places come to life!

Thing #11 – Content Area

Audio and Video Resources!

AUDIO – I found the PBS Learning Media site to be very helpful for locating strong lessons paired with audio resources.  The site is incredibly user-friendly, and given that it’s a PBS site, it wouldn’t take much to determine that the high quality of the resources and lessons provided.  One particular lesson that fit with math content was a lesson called “Double Charged: The True Cost of Juvenile Delinquency”.  This is a Youth Radio special edition that focuses on the statistics and costs behind courtrooms and house arrests for juveniles and their families.  As more and more of my students find themselves in the world of courtrooms and probation (and oddly enough, they are proud of this status), this may be an eye-opening experience.

AUDIO – Another great site that could be used to locate audio resources would be the M.O.R.E. section of the Michigan eLibrary at  Simply typing in “audio” in the search box will give a list of audio files that could easily be used by English teachers.  I found a number of audio files that contained authors reading their own work, an invaluable experience for students.  This is another site that is very easy for teachers to use, and I plan to use it frequently!

VIDEO – I used the Khan Academy ( extensively last year as I stumbled across it over the summer.  This was the basis of my remediation math class for students.  I was able to do a quick diagnostic check on students early in the year, and then I assigned them specific skills to complete each week.  They could use hints to help them if they did not understand how to do particular problems, and there were numerous videos that would show them each and every step to find solutions.  This was a very easy site for students to access, and as a teacher, I was given weekly emails that highlighted student progress – we had much to celebrate at the end of each week!

VIDEO – The Teaching Channel ( is another resource that I found very easy to use, and I definitely would share this one with my colleagues.  While it is not directly geared toward student use, teachers can find a number of videos to enhance a variety of teaching aspects.  There are videos for new teachers, classroom management tips, divergent questioning techniques, team teaching strategies, etc.


The sheer number of audio/video resources located in the iTunes stores with their selection of podcasts is simply mind-boggling!  In the math content area alone, you can get tips on Mental Math, 2nd grade math, math history, math songs, Algebra 1 help, and so on.  One resource that I found particularly interesting was the Math Dude that gives a weekly podcast that gives quick tips to make math easier.  There are a variety of topics that you can quickly scan and locate, and will certainly share this resource with my students in the fall.  For now, I was able to share this information with the other math remediation teacher in our building, and she was thrilled!  She hasn’t taught math in awhile, and she was planning to use The Math Dude herself to help knock off the rust in her math mind.  For my students, this will be yet another provided tool that reminds them that math is not as scary as they can make it.

M.O.R.E., Michigan Learns Online, and TWICE!

There is a Bouncing Tennis Balls lesson that I was able to locate through the M.O.R.E. services.  It appears as though the NCTM Illuminations site that I was directed to has undergone some renovations, and I needed to do an additional search to find the lesson.  At any rate, the lesson itself is wonderful!  Students are asked to bounce tennis balls and collect the data from the height of each subsequent bounce.  This leads to graphs, regression lines, and further predictions.  This lesson does a much better job of giving students real world examples of exponential functions than what I have done in past years from the textbook.  I am so excited to try it out on students.  (

TWICE is another resource that I am excited to use this year.  Our 8th grade classes traditionally take a trip to Washington, DC, every April, and through the TWICE program, a teacher could set up a visit with a legislative staff member, either before or after the trip.  (  The cost of this “field trip” video conference is free, but the benefits to students would be priceless.  It looks like students can prepare questions before the video conference on current issues.  This is definitely something that I will be sharing with the social studies staff when we get back to class.

ISTE Standards

1a Promote, support, and model creative and innovative thinking and inventiveness – The instructor can open up an entirely new world of instruction to students through the use of audio and visual resources.

2a Design or adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity – A cooperative learning group of students could be asked to solve a real world math problem through text and video resources located at Khan Academy or any of the other numerous resources that were listed in this “thing”.

3a Model and facilitate effective use of current and emerging digital tools to locate, analyze, evaluate, and use information resources to support research and learning – As an instructor works with students as a facilitator of student learning, he/she can consequently provide students with the numerous content tools available to enhance their learning.

5c Evaluate and reflect on current research and professional practice on a regular basis to make effective use of existing and emerging digital tools and resources in support of student learning – The Michigan Learns Online as well as the Teacher Channel provides educators with articles, videos, and even online professional development designed to help them implement the most current digital tools in the classroom.

CITW – Best Practice

1 Cues, questions, advanced organizers – With every type of audio and video resource made available to students, it will be a simple question that the instructor can pose to the class, small groups, or even individual students.   From there, the students can use the resources to help them find solutions to the questions.

2 Generating and testing hypothesis – Given a topic or simple real world problem to solve, again, students can simply head to the seemingly infinite number of resources to develop a strong hypothesis and then find the resources to test that hypothesis.

Thing #10 – Search Strategies

MeL Educational Databases! I sincerely think this course name should be changed from “21 Things for Teachers” to “21 Things Teachers Will Immediately Fall in Love With”!  I am embarrassed to admit, although here it all is for the world to see, that I’ve heard of MeL, but never really considered it as something my students would use.  WHAT??  This is a resource that every Michigan student MUST be made aware of….as soon as school starts!!  At any rate, moving forward and never looking back at my ignorance, I took a look at two databases recommended for the middle/high school level.  I used SIRS Discoverer Deluxe and SIRS Renaissance to do a search on Pythagoras.  I typically ask my students to do a little of thinking and research on mathematicians that made significant contributions to the content we are studying, and Pythagoras comes up quite often.  SIRS Discoverer Deluxe brought up articles that were very brief and straightforward, and some of the articles even included a brief glossary of terms within the article.

SIRS Discoverer Deluxe Sample  “Pythagoras of Samos.” Mathematicians Are People Too (National Center for Education Statistics). Jan. 7 2002: n.p. SIRS Discoverer. Web. 25 Jul. 2014.

Discoverer Deluxe

SIRS Renaissance Sample  Williams, Michael R. “He Lived with Numbers.” World & I. May 2001: 140-147. SIRS Renaissance. Web. 25 Jul. 2014. Renaissance

The SIRS Renaissance search provided some longer articles that had more in-depth information, consistent with what a high school or even college student would find helpful for conducting research.  Overall, in the fields of appropriateness, usability, content, and credibility, SIRS Discoverer Deluxe is a perfect match for my 7th and 8th grade students while I would recommend the SIRS Renaissance database to my colleagues that teach at the high school level.  As for the Best Practice of generating and testing hypotheses, MeL has provided a wealth of resources that are appropriate, usable, related to content, and credible for students that is beyond the garbage that can be found with a regular Google search.  The handy citations at the bottom of each article make it incredibly easy for students to properly cite their work.

MeL Databases to Share With Students!

I have shared GeneralOne File with students on my website.  Rather than answering their incessant “When will we ever use this?” question, I would like to encourage students to look for current articles that have some type of relation to math.  This goes for InfoTrac Junior Edition as well.   The Learning Express Library would be a great place for students to see which types of jobs require a math background, and it even looks like there are some practice math tests provided.  Here is a quick shot of what my Math Resources page is starting to look like on my Weebly account.

Weebly Resources

Bogus Sites – BEWARE!

  • I checked out a couple of websites and used Joyce Valenza’s criteria  using the ADVANCED (Secondary – CARRDSS) level.  The first place I went was The Time Travel Fund site at  Clearly, as you will see, there is no WAY this is a legitimate website.  It fails every portion of Valenza’s test.

C – Credibility – The site looks sketchy from the start.  The picture on the homepage has a load of people gathered around a Christmas scene holding up some very amateur-looking certificates.

A – Accuracy – The site directly states that they “do not know” what they can do, but they can only make “reasonable guesses”.  Warning flags!

R – Reliability – In once spot, it says that international orders are not being taken, but then right below, it says that international orders take an extra dollar to process.

R – Relevance – The entire site is based on whether someone in the future would want to bring you to their place in time, and you have no choice as to where you go.  Why would anyone not want to have that choice?

D – Date – There is not a date located anywhere on the page.

S – Sources Behind the Text – There are no sources listed at all.

S – Scope and Purpose – There is no real purpose behind this site other than to collect $10 from you.   I’m a little worried about the PayPal certification, too!

C – Credibility – The PRNewswire logo at the top of the page looks pretty impressive, but there is nothing aside from the logo to indicate there is anything credible!

A – Accuracy – Redistributing the condiments 180 degrees so that the burger fits better for left-handers?  Just turn the burger around and you’ll get the same results!

R – Reliability – The burger is said to become available in the UK on April 1?  Perhaps the April Fools date will tip off some readers.

R – Relevance – It’s a round object, there is no reason to even consider how it would “fit better” into a left hand or right hand.

D – Date – There is no date located on the article or on the page itself aside from a 2013 copyright logo.

S – Sources Behind the Text – The source is list simply as “Burger King”.  Quite generic if you ask me!

S – Scope and Purpose – There is no distinct scope or purpose behind this article.

Consequently, after investigating the PRNewswire contact information, it appears that ANYONE can submit a story to this site.  Interesting! Having a few simple things to look for to evaluate the legitimacy of a website will go a long way towards making students more computer literate.

Citation Makers!

I have used these citation makers in both of my Masters programs, and I can’t imagine life without them!!  I had to write several papers, each requiring a number of various resources.  Creating the citations by hand early on was overwhelming and frustrating, but the moment I stumbled across a citation maker (I used the LandMark Citation Machine), life became much more pleasant.  Through Google Scholar, I went back and searched my good friend Pythagoras and located a couple of quality articles that would be great for student use.  For this assignment, I chose to use BibMe mostly because I’ve heard so many people talking about this one and wanted to check it out.  WOW!  This one is so much more user-friendly than what I was familiar with, and I was quickly able to locate two sources (a book and a website), and the citation was created with the click of a button.

  • Boyer, Carl B.. A history of mathematics. New York: Wiley, 1968. Print.
  • “Digital Commons @ Butler University.” – Undergraduate Research Conference: From Pythagoras to Johann Sebastian Bach: An Exploration in the Development of Temperament and Tuning. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 July 2014. <

ISTE Standards

1b Engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources – Through the exploration of real world problems and their solutions, students will be required to do research.  Using smart search strategies will help them to find reliable and accurate information for their solutions.

2a Design or adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity –  Honing in student searches to assignments that are relevant to them will certainly engage them and keep them on task.  If the cumbersome task of citing resources can be made less overwhelming through citation makers, students can continue to focus on solutions to real world problems.

3a Demonstrate fluency in technology systems and the transfer of current knowledge to new technologies and situations – Through the use of MeL and the databases, the instructor will be able to take the old-school library searches to something more current and accurate online.

4b Address the diverse needs of all learners by using learner-centered strategies providing equitable access to appropriate digital tools and resources – Again, the MeL databases are so diverse, there is certainly a resource and problem-solving opportunity available for each and every learning capability.

5c Evaluate and reflect on current research and professional practice on a regular basis to make effective use of existing and emerging digital tools and resources in support of student learning – I cannot stress enough how valuable the MeL databases can be.  There is a particular section just for teachers that has what seems to be an infinite number of lessons and topics to keep teachers apprised of the current pedagogy and research in the education field.  The MeL site should be visited regularly and frequently by EVERY teacher!


Generating and testing hypothesis – Having the MeL databases available to students as well as the citation generators will allow groups to formulate and research their real world problems.  If they are able to approach each resource with a critical eye for what is accurate and credible and what is complete garbage, they will become better users of internet resources rather than straightforward consumers!

Cues, questions, and advanced organizers – A teacher could pose a real world problem to students, allowing them to use internet sources and smart searches to discover potential solutions to those questions.

Assigning homework and practice – An instructor could assign students to look up the origin of the idea of quadratic functions, finding the history of this concept that they could be addressing in math class.  They could be required to write a short paragraph using credible sources that must be cited.

Identifying similarities and differences – A potential assignment for a collaborative group could be for them to research and locate the similarities and differences between how the Chinese and the Greeks contributed to mathematics and how their viewpoints on problem-solving compared.

Thing #9 – Be Legal and Fair

Copyright Quiz!

I was aware that there are copyright laws on the pieces of information that I share in class or that my students use for their projects and presentations.  After taking the quiz, I received a score of 16.  I think this demonstrates that awareness is pretty important.

Copyright Quiz

However, simply being aware is does not make me exempt from unknowingly breaking copyright laws.  This past year, I was short on textbooks from my Connected Math series.  These are very small textbooks, they look almost like workbooks, and for one of the units, I didn’t realize I was 3 books short until the day I passed out the new units.  I quickly went to make copies on my planning hour for students to use, and those students continued to use the copies for the entire unit (which typically last 4-6 weeks).  This copyright infringement may have affected the publisher of the textbooks, Pearson-Prentice Hall, because they did not receive the additional funds for those extra students because I copied the textbook rather than purchased new ones for the students.  Next time this happens, and I’m sure it will, I intend to perhaps use the photocopies in a pinch for a couple of days until I put in an order and get student copies for each of the students, rather than using the copies for the entire unit.  I would also collect and destroy the photocopies once students have their own books.  I could also have students pair up if I am short on books until the extra student copies arrive.

Creative Commons Licensing!

I was able to go to the Creative Commons site and create a license for my Weebly page.  I work very hard on the documents I share with my students, so I chose not to let anyone to make changes to or commercialize my work.

Weebly Creative Commons


Plagiarism Checkers!

Our English department has encouraged us to use for a couple of years now, and I could never really get used to it.  In math, I don’t have students do a LOT of writing, and this service just always seemed so cumbersome.  DupliChecker seems quick and easy to use.  I submitted my husband’s Human Anatomy and Physiology final research paper to see that he did a very nice job of using his own thoughts and ideas.  The only thing DupliChecker found were the direct quotes that he used and properly cited.  In my own classroom, I can definitely see using this as I assign quick homework writing assignments to my students.  I often ask them to pretend an alien has just arrived from outer space and does not have ANY idea how to subtract rational numbers, for example.  Students will then write a comprehensive explanation of exactly how the would explain this concept to our visitor.  These brief writings could easily be submitted to DupliChecker to make sure the students haven’t found too much “help” online.

ISTE Standards

4b Address the diverse needs of all learners by using learner-centered strategies providing equitable access to appropriate digital tools and resources – Making sure that students are not unknowingly infringing on copyright laws by encouraging them to search images, music, and other media using the Creative Commons website would ensure that they are gaining access to the appropriate digital tools and resources.


Summarizing and note-taking – If students are accurately and effectively summarizing what has been learned and taking notes on the information in their own words, plagiarism checkers such as DupliChecker and PlagTracker submissions should illustrate that the work is definitely not “cut and pasted”.

Assigning homework and practice – Instructors could assign research papers or other smaller writing assignments, making sure students are not copying the work of others.  Students could be directed to find illustrations through a Creative Commons search rather than a regular Google Images search, and they could also assign a Creative Commons license to their own work, making them more aware of the essential copyright laws.

Cues, questions, advanced organizers – Creating an organizer for a project involves students producing an original piece of work, the perfect occasion for a Creative Commons license!