Thursday, July 24, 2014



As part of my courses I always provide an opportunity for students to evaluate and review the course. 
One of the questions on my Summer Biology Hybrid Course, was "How was your process of learning affected by the use of the  SOPHIA website.

As a proponent of the "Flipped Classroom" and having used SOPHIA for several semesters now, I can't tell you how excited I was when I read this commentary from a student from my class. This answer basically looks like she read the manual for teaching in the flipped classroom as she hit most of the key points that "Flippers" claim as the benefits of the "Flipped Classroom".

Monday, July 21, 2014


8 Themes from the Documentary ESCAPE FIRE

In his Last Lecture, Randy Pausch tells of being floored when he saw the first projects created by the students of his Virtual Worlds Course at Carnegie Mellon.  He approached his mentor and asked, "What do I do? They surpassed all expectations."  His mentor suggested,  "Tell the students, that they did a fine job, but I think you can do better."

This is great advice and I am at that same point with my Summer Health students as they have simply floored me with the Infographics that they created in response to the issues shared in the documentary "Escape Fire".  In a previous blog, "The Value of Information - Infographics in the Classroom" I described the assignment and the process of preparing the students for this project.  Today students shared their Infographics with the class and I was just BLOWN AWAY.  While the Infographics are not perfect, and there could be some tweaks here and there, these son to be Sophomores amazed me with their research, data and the infographics each group created.  WOW!!!

Friday, July 18, 2014


Why I Keep Teaching

I am not an Edutainer, my job is not to entertain the students in order to get them to learn. 

My job is to make them think and learn the skills that will help them make this world a better place for my retirement. So when I can find anything that helps to capture their imaginations, then I am going to put it into play in my classroom.

In my Summer Health course we watched a documentary on SuperBugs.  We used Padlet for class feedback, each table used iPads to post their discussion points on the Padlet Wall to create further discussion. 

Here are a few images from the class.  

SMART Board Padlet Wall Begins

Students Use iPads to post to wall from group discussion.

Students respond to Padlet Wall
Padlet Wall Grows

Don't tell anyone the students had FUN!!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014



In a time of mindless escape I found myself watching an episode of "The Middle"  the other night and had deja vu moments as Mike Heck sat at the school athletic banquet and questions, "Does everyone get a trophy?"  And then he cringed as his daughter received her X-Country MVP trophy "Most Valuable in Punctuality".  

I have referred to this in the past as the "AYSO Syndrome". 
The idea that everyone plays, everyone wins and everyone gets a trophy.  The reality of dealing with defeat or realizing that you may not always be the best has diluted our ability to evaluate ourselves and assess our own abilities or lack thereof.  

As an educator and a former coach I still cringe, a la Mike Heck, at parents who proudly proclaim, "my child is an All Star".  When the real proclamation should come from the parents who can claim "my child was not an All Star".  Between,  area all-stars, regional all-stars, sectional all-stars and district all-star teams, it is a wonder that there are enough players in each league to fill the 
"All Stars".

Do we as educators spend enough time helping our students to authentically assess their talents, abilities and the work they produce?  

Fortunately, I came across a set of reflection questions on Edutopia to guide students through both introspection and reflection as a means to self-assess the work they produce in class. Primarily in the area of Project Based Learning (PBL).

The question set is organized in four categories: 

  • Backward-Looking  Where did they start?
  • Inward-Looking       What did they learn?
  • Outward-Looking    How do they compare?
  • Forward-Looking    Where can they go? - Link to PDF from Edutopia

The 40 Reflection Questions


1. How much did you know about the subject before we started?
2. What process did you go through to produce this piece?
3. Have you done a similar kind of work in the past (earlier in the year or in a previous grade; in school or out of school)?
4. In what ways have you gotten better at this kind of work?
5. In what ways do you think you need to improve?
6. What problems did you encounter while you were working on this piece? How did you solve them?
7. What resources did you use while working on this piece? Which ones were especially helpful? Which ones would you use again?
8. Does this work tell a story?


9. How do you feel about this piece of work? What parts of it do you particularly like? Dislike? Why? What did/do you enjoy about this piece or work?
10. What was especially satisfying to you about either the process or the finished product?
11. What did/do you find frustrating about it?
12. What were your standards for this piece of work?
13. Did you meet your standards?
14. What were your goals for meeting this piece of work? Did your goals change as you worked on it? Did you meet your goals?
15. What does this piece reveal about you as a learner?
16. What did you learn about yourself as you worked on this piece?
17. Have you changed any ideas you used to have on this subject?
18. Find another piece of work that you did at the beginning of the year to compare and contrast with this what changes can you see?
19. How did those changes come about?
20. What does that tell you about yourself and how you learn?


21. Did you do your work the way other people did theirs?
22. In what ways did you do it differently?
23. In what ways was your work or process similar?
24. If you were the teacher, what comments would you make about this piece?
25. What grade would you give it? Why?
26. What the one thing you particularly want people to notice when they look at your work?
27. What do your classmates particularly notice about your piece when they look at it?
28. In what ways did your work meet the standards for this assignment?
29. In what ways did it not meet those standards?
30. If someone else were looking at the piece, what might they learn about who you are?


31. One thing I would like to improve upon is ...
32. What would you change if you had a chance to do this piece over again?
33. What will you change in the next revision of this piece?
34. What's the one thing that you have seen in your classmates' work or process that you would like to try in your next piece?
35. As you look at this piece, what's one thing that you would like to try to improve upon?
36. What's one goal you would like to set for yourself for next time?
37. What would you like to spend more time on in school?
38. What might you want next year's teacher to know about you (what things you're good at)?
39. What things you might want more help with?

40. What work would you show her to help her understand those things?

Thursday, July 10, 2014



In today's world of mass media and technology, students are exposed to more information in a week than an adolescent would see in a lifetime in Shakespeare's time. 

The ability to absorb, interpret, filter, store, categorize, evaluate and share this information seems to be an overwhelming task but the digital natives of this generation seem to be well adjusted to the glut of information broadcasted to their world. 

One mean of collating information that has become quite prevalent in today's world digital communication is the "infographic". 

The definition from Wikipedia states,  Information graphics or infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly. 

This summer in my sophomore Health course we have used info graphics in a variety of ways.  

First the students viewed the documentary "Escape Fire" to gain perspective on the Health and Wellness Care System in United States. Utilizing infographics provided on the movie website ( students evaluated and correlated information from the documentary.   

Next students used infographics to gather and analyze information concerning prescription and OTC drugs.  I provided them with variety of infographics about various topics concerning the pharmaceutical industry and health care. Students worked in groups to break down and evaluate the information on the infographics and then present the most valuable information to the class. 

Students also evaluated the effectiveness of the infographic as a means of conveying information.  Students analyzed and presented the  organization, presentation, color schemes, chart and data choice for each infographic.       

Finally students worked in groups to create their own infographics concerning one of the six issues raised in the documentary regarding our health care industry. Each infographic had to contain 8 to 12 data based sets of information presented in chart form with accompanying text. 
Students posted and shared their infographics online.  

For me this project provided the perfect means to incorporate the Six C's of Education.  Students add to Think Critically to analyze and evaluate data, gather information and format the infographic. Students worked in Collaborative Teams in student to student and online collaboration. Students Communicated in a variety of means throughout the project whether working in groups or presenting online or in the classroom. The design and production of the infographic provided an avenue to develop their Creativity. Analyzing data and looking at the effects on society of our health and wellness infrastructure forced students to evaluate the Culture they are living in. Lastly, students Utilized smartphones, iPads, and computers to Connect the dots and produce their infographics.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Padlet - Include an Online Graffiti Wall for Your Classroom

Padlet - Include an Online Graffiti Wall for Your Flipped Classroom  

Padlet is a online web based "Graffiti Wall" for real time collaboration and a vehicle for the sharing of information, creating discussions and visualizing possibilities.

Uses for the Padlet

  • to brainstorm ideas 
  • to problem solve
  • to share understanding
  • to survey groups
  • to test student knowledge
  • to gather website links
  • to share information in a presentation
  • to organize data
  • to communicate online
  • to initiate discussions 
  • to create wish wall
  • to provide peer assessment
  • to expand your imagination
Padlet is very user friendly.  Once you have registered for your free account, which you can do through your Google account, it is very easy to create and name your wall.  

The layout menu located on the right side of the workspace allows for the options for your wallpaper, organization, privacy and notification settings.  

Padlet layoutLayout options include freeform as in the example above or in a streaming style.  

Sharing addressPadlet can assign a url for your wall or you can personalize the url for your needs. 

Padlet visibility options
There are options to share the Padlet wall in a variety of ways. You can make the wall public, or you can share with specified groups.  Users can view, view and share content, and view, share and edit content. 
The Padlet wall can be password protected. 

    Padlet sharing options
Padlet walls can be shared as a learning activity, saved PDF, uploaded to Dropbox, shared as a link, embedded in a webpage or shared through a QR code.