Trials and tribulations of 21st century educator

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This quarter I am planning on using Quizlet for my government classes.  I’m hoping that it will add an interactive element to studying to vocabulary for specific units.

I’m still investigating ways in which I can use it in class and monitor the progress of the students.  My reservations are that the students won’t stay on task and that the activities will not be challenging enough to generate learning the material.

I will give an update on its use in my next entry.

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This is more of an inquiry about the Districts movement towards eTextbooks:

The use of eTexts, especially at the high school level, seems to be a tech-based way to save money in the long run.  Not more lost books, or the need for rebinds.  I know that readers / iPads would be expensive to give to students… but you could have multiple books on ONE device.  If you figure each textbook costs $70 and each student has 5 of those books.  The student could carry $350 worth of textbooks on one device.    Now the starting rate for an iPad is $400, so it may not be in range economically yet.

It seems to me that electronic texts is the trend even outside of education.  EBooks have put places like Borders out of business…  I really hope Lindbergh takes eTexts into serious consideration!


I came across a great app over the holidays that could have some relevancy in the classroom.  The app is Flipboard and is a combination of Pinterest and news.  It’s similar to a interactive/electronic magazine.  

Flipboard provides the reader with electronic articles that are based around their interests.  You can click on a category (such as news, politics, or sports) and get 10s of current articles that are updated every hour.  It can also be linked to your twitter feed or facebook timeline.

It’s similar to Pinterest because it is very visual.  In addition to headlines, its format utilizes the main picture to grab the reader.  

The aesthetics of the app are also interesting.  You can “flip” through the articles by dragging your finger vertically across the screen.  

Flipboard my be used in the classroom for a research or organizing information.  Have the kids organize information according to categories and put all relevant documents/research within those categories.  It could be used at the end of a semester so kids have to categorize all of their notes according to visual units.


I’ve had mixed reviews with BYOD.  I do allow kids to bring in their laptops to take notes; I believe a lot of kids can type faster than they write.  And there are (obviously) a lot of benefits to using technology in the classroom.  Unfortunately, I’ve experienced a few draw-backs; not only in the management of behavior when kids uses their own electronics, but also in the philosophy of BYOD in the public school setting.

I hope that we can eventually provide students with the technology that properly engages them in learning, and prepares them for careers of the future.


I’ve been using my twitter account a lot more recently.  I now use it more for news than social interests.  I’m still trying to think of a good way to use it in the classroom, versus personally or for a sports team.  I’ve been following the boys basketball team for Lindbergh.  Jason Wolfard does a great job at tweeting.  He does just enough so you keep following but aren’t overwhelmed by inspirational quotes.

I also had a colleague (Pfeiffer!) show me a lesson where the student had to create a twitter feed for important people during that era in time.  The students had to reference specific events and feelings of the Age of Absolutism.  It turned out really well and I hope to use it in the future.

Props to Pfeif 🙂


I really enjoy using my ActiveInspire software and the flipcharts.  I’ve only had time to plan one lesson, that I will use later this week.  I will use a Jeopardy template to help my kids review for the US Constitution test.

Keith just fixed my pens so I can finally mess around with it more.  Now I can have more than one person at the board, which will be more engaging.


How to learn? from mistakes

I really enjoyed the video from Diana Laufenberg because it touches on an aspect of education that is so basic and yet often forgotten.  Learning from one’s mistakes is a lesson that is often understood organically and from a very young age.  I don’t ever remember a teacher forcing me to remember this rule, but it was a lesson instilled in me when I was a kid.

Face it: you’re going to mess up, all humans do.  But, it’s what you do with your failures that makes you successful and achieve more goals.  Do you give-up and keep repeating the same mistake over and over? Or do you take that failure, learn from it, and try new methods until you achieve your goal?

This directly relates to my first years teaching.  Yeah, I’ve messed up (quite a bit, one may say).  But, I am constantly learning from mistakes in order to be a better teacher: tweaking lessons, editing tests, re-wording directions.  All with the goal of becoming a more effective teacher on the next go-round.

Now, this video also applies to students as well.  I think the concept of failure is viewed differently depending on the type of student.  For example, “accepting failure” for a student who is currently failing 4 out of 5 classes because they refuse to turn in work, won’t have the same impact as a kid that has all honors classes and a 3.5 GPA.  I personally never want to have that conversation with an honors parent: “oh, it’s ok that they completely bombed this project, they’ll learn from this experience and do better next time”.  Some parents have high (and often unrealistic) expectations for their kids, I don’t feel comfortable explaining to them that failure is ok.

I believe the concept of accepting and learning from mistakes is a great tool for education, and one that is often looked over.  However, it definitely depends on the student…