“Education is learning what you didn’t even know you didn’t know.” By Daniel J Boorstin

Another school year is coming to an end and with that comes summer 2015. We as educators know how important it is for our students to continue to exercise their brain muscles. Here are my top FREE resources to send to parents this summer to help our students avoid the summer slide.

1. TenMarks – An adaptive math program that has students working on math concepts based on their needs. This program cost money for families but now it is FREE and educators get a toolkit to send home so the parents know how to use it.

2.  CK-12 Brain Flex – A self-paced online summer program that has students working on math and science. They bring the practice, students just need to bring their brain.

3. Camp GoNoodle – Go Noodle has made a virtual camp for students by offering a fun online program that has students learning through play and other various educational activities.

To learn great reading resources to avoid the summer slide, read my previous post on ‘No Summer Slide Using these Resources‘. If you are in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools two resources your students have all summer long are Dreambox and Compass Learning.

Originally posted on mccoyderek:

Edcamp LeadershipJuly 10, 2015 promises to be a historic day of learning and connecting for North Carolina educators!

Friday July 10th, we are hosting the first ever Edcamp for School Leaders! Edcamps are not new to North Carolina – for years, dedicated educators have been coordinating and hosting these ‘unconferences’ across our great state. These edcamps have brought in educators from different school districts to share, connect and ultimately help others improve the learning and teaching in all our schools. Talk to any participants in these edcamps and they will tell you that these experiences have been incredibly valuable and significant to their personal/professional development.

Edcamp Leadership NC [held Friday July 10 at the @FridayInstitue] is the first of its kind in NC and we have some great reasons to be excited:

This is a first NC unconference targeted for school leaders across the state. Make no mistake…

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“A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.” By Gandhi


Last week #21stedchat on Twitter was about creating Culturally Responsive Classrooms. Throughout the chat I could see many educators ‘favoriting’ a lot of the tweets/resources but were not participating with their own teacher voice. I soon realized it was because educators are still not comfortable talking about culture diversity in the classroom. In response to this I want to share all the resources from the chat to help educators start feeling more knowledgable around this topic because the more we discuss and share, the better we will get as an education system to become more culturally responsive.

What is a culturally responsive classroom? It is a classroom that purposefully acknowledges the presence of culturally diverse students and the need for relevant connections among them and the content being taught.


Five-Minute Film Festival: Culturally Responsive Teaching

Creating Culturally Responsive, Inclusive Classrooms

A Framework for Culturally Responsive Teaching from ASCD

Teaching Tolerance Website 

The Best Sites for Learning About the Word’s Different Cultures by Larry Ferlazzo

Relationship Building Through Culturally Responsive Classroom Management

Uncomfortable Conversations: Talking about Race in the Classroom

How Cultural Differences May Affect Student Performance

Culturally Relevant Teaching Resources

Cybrary Man’s Culture Resource Page

Culturally Responsive Lesson Plans


Cultural Proficiency: A Manual for School Leaders

Other People’s Children by Lisa Delpit

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria: And Other Conversations About Race by Tatum

Please share any resources you have in the comments to help educators have a more culturally responsive classroom.

“I look at Google and think they have a strong academic culture. Elegant solutions to complex problems.” By Mark Zuckerberg

Google Chrome is my favorite free web browser developed by Google. One of the reasons I love Google Chrome is because of the Google Chrome Extensions which are “small software programs that can modify and enhance the functionality of the Chrome browser.*” In simpler terms, they make my life easier but too many extensions can also slow your Chrome browser down. Here are my favorite Google Chrome Extensions in no particular order:

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  • Save to Drive: Save web content or screen capture directly to your Google Drive!
  • Goo.gl: Allows you to shorten the current website URL (goo.gl/) and also make it into a QR code in seconds.
  • Pocket: The best way to save articles when I don’t have time to read them (Can save videos too)
  • SnagIt: Is a screen capturing and recording tool. My students use it a lot in the classroom to show what they know. (See previous post
  • Google Dictionary:  Once installed double-click on a word on a webpage, and the definition instantly pops-up.
  • Tab Scissors and Tab Glue: These are two separate extensions that I use together. Tab Scissors divides your window into two which is helpful when you are going back and forth between two or more tabs, now you don’t. Tab glue puts the window tabs back together when you are finished.

My favorite paid extension (has a 30 day free version) is Read&Write for Google™  This extension offers support for Google Docs/web to students with learning difficulties, dyslexia or ELL/ESL but I think it helps all students. It has multiple functions such as read aloud, picture dictionaries, highlighters etc. (CMS educators you have it for free click on the chrome web store and go to recommended for CMS users)

I would love to know your favorite Google Chrome Extension, please add them to the comments.

Site*: “What are extensions? – Google Chrome.” 2012. 3 May. 2015 <https://developer.chrome.com/extensions>

“Perhaps the greatest threat facing all educators today is the relentless national criticism of America’s public schools. The national narrative that is driving the negative public perception of education is leading to a decrease in public confidence and calls for reduced financial support. Today, educators face intense scrutiny and criticism, while what is right in American education is largely ignored.” Bammy’s Creators

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It is hard to believe David Prindle and I started #21stedchat in August of 2012, almost three years ago!  We started the chat because we wanted educators to create a positive 21st century learning environment for students by sharing resources and ideas that has worked in our classrooms and educational experiences. We have been more than pleased with how well it has gone and it has truly made me a better educator.

To this day David and I  have never physically met. We come from different worlds, David is a high school Forensic Science and General Chemistry teacher in MI, while I have taught mostly elementary in NC, but that doesn’t matter because along with all our #21stedchat members we all care about doing what’s best for students. Each week we have a different themes to discuss and in case you haven’t joined us for #21stedchat, it takes place every Sunday from 8:00-9:00 PM EST on Twitter.

We are humbled and honored to be nominated in the best Twitter Chat Community category.  We were nominated by the academy and we couldn’t have done it without all of our #21stedchat members. We want to thank you and ask that you please take a few minutes to vote for us here:  

It Takes a Village to Educate a Child

The Bammy Awards is a cross-discipline award that identifies and acknowledges the good work being done all across the education village. The Bammy Awards was created in response to the tremendous national pressure on educators and education leaders to improve student outcomes, the impact of high-stakes accountability and the intense scrutiny that today’s educators face.

The awards aim to foster cross-discipline recognition of the collective contributions being made to educate children, encourage collaboration in and across the various domains, elevate education and education successes in the public eye, and raise the profile and voices of the many undervalued and unrecognized people who are making a difference in the field.

The Bammy Awards acknowledge that teachers can’t do it alone and don’t do it alone. The Awards aim to recognize the collaborative nature of education, to encourage respect in and across the various domains, to raise the profile and voices of the many undervalued and unrecognized people who are making a difference in the field and to elevate educators, education and the value of life-long learning in the public eye.

“I love technology, and I love new gadgets. I can no longer figure out how to use ay of them, but I love them.” Jerry Zucker

New technology gadgets are always coming out; check out some of these creative play gadgets to add to your classroom.

1. Ozobot

2. Parrot MiniDrone Rolling Spider Blue*

3. Spheros*

* Bonus both the MiniDrone and Spheros can utilize Tickle App to teach programing.

4. LittleBits

5. Fascinations First Time Clock Puzzle

6. Rubik’s Slide

7. Osmo

8. Roominate

9. Cublets

10. Moss

Be on the lookout for Bloxels which is coming soon! Please share any gadgets that you are utilizing in your classroom in the comments section.

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” By George Bernard Shaw

Over the years, I have heard a lot of what I call “Yeah but’s”….these are the excuses/arguments educators make that usually have a fixed mindset verse a growth mindset. As a leader (you don’t need to be in a leadership position, to be a leader) you need to be able to navigate around the yeah but’s; here are a few I have heard with some possible solutions.

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1. “Yeah But…I don’t have the time to integrate ________ (fill in the blank technology, PBL’s, data analysis etc.)” Solution: Try to find a way to make it so they are saving time, see the value in it and how it connects to the curriculum. For example: start slow by offering to create a Project or Problem Based Learning (PBL) for them that matches the curriculum (which is modeling in a different form) and then scaffold by doing one together etc.

2. “Yeah But…My students don’t have internet at home.” Solution: This is becoming a myth because often time educators don’t take the time to survey their class to see if they have internet and just assume they don’t. More and more homes are getting internet over cable! I have worked with several Title 1 schools and once we ask ‘do you have internet?’ they realized it was maybe only one student and often times the whole class did. (I do suggest a survey that is anonymous as you don’t want anyone to feel bad they don’t have internet). Another solution that has helped was creating a list of free wi-fi around the city/town. I often found that parents don’t realize they could get free internet at McDonald’s or the Public Library etc.

3. “Yeah But…I don’t want to have 1:1 devices in my classroom because students might cheat and I can’t control what they are doing on the device.” Solution: Sometimes explaining this is true but it is also true for paper and pencil classrooms helps educators to see more solutions verse seeing it as a problem. Empower the educators by asking what they would do if a student was not doing what they were suppose to be doing on the task given. This shows them the same classroom management that they have been using can still apply. You can also offer tips and tricks in classroom management that can help combat this. For example: Rearrange the classroom so that when the teacher is working with a small group, the students screens are facing them. (You want to be looking at the back of the students heads) This way they can see if they are on task by looking at their screens and feel more in control. There are also solutions like Nearpod that control the screens of devices; I am not a big fan of this as we need to build student ownership but it is a way to sometimes help educators that are reluctant.

4. “Yeah But…Google Apps for Education (GAFE) is too difficult and too much to keep up with in the classroom.” Solution: Again, like I said in the solution for how to integrate, try to find a way to make it so they are saving time, they see the value in it and how it connects to the curriculum. Model using something like Google Forms to create an assessment and then adding in Flubaroo so they can see how it can save them time from grading the assessment.

5. “Yeah But…Parents do their homework when I give them homework online.” Solution: Try explaining how giving any type of homework, parents can do their work for them. The key is to give quality homework that kids want to do and at their level so then they don’t need their parents help. Try creating a choice menu board for homework where students choose what they want to do.

6. “Yeah But…I only have a few computers in my room.” Solution: There are several ways to combat this one. Try creating a schedule to rotate the computers so the teacher can ‘see’ the management of it. Also show how in a true blended learning model you only need a few computers and offer some tips and tricks.

7. “Yeah But…My students aren’t motivated.” Solution: This is a hard one as usually it is not because the student isn’t motivated but because the lessons aren’t engaging. If the lessons aren’t engaging you can offer to model some lessons that are engaging or show how adding student choice is a huge motivation booster for students, even when it is only between two options. If it is the student, there are a few tips and tricks that you can offer that educator to help them with students motivation such as getting to better know their students’ interests and passions.

8. “Yeah But…rigor is overrated and just a catch-phrase.” Solution: I agree that the word is over used but I remind teachers the true essence of rigor a best practice. “Rigor is creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at a high level, and each is supported so he or she can learn at a high level, and each student demonstrates learning at a high level.”  (Blackburn, 2008) A great resource to offer is Rigor is Not a Four-Letter Word by Barbara Blackburn.

9. “Yeah But…I need to prepare my students for _____ (fill in blank with middle, high school or college) so the desks need to be in rows and I need to lecture.” Solution: It depend on which level you are working with. For those educators that say because they are going to middle school, have them tour a middle school to show how that is not what middle school is looking like any more, especially with more blended learning happening. For high school and college yes they haven’t changed as much but they are starting to. I try to explain that we need to do whats best for students and show the research behind best practices. For example the mini-lesson verse lecture. I use Salman Khan as my example and why he only does 10 minutes or less videos on Khan Academy. For the classroom design I use brain based research tips along with explaining how the workforce has changed.

10. Turning any “Yeah Buts” you hear into goals is another great way to combat the negative and turn it into a positive solution.

I would love to hear any yeah buts you have heard and a possible solution to add to my toolkit.


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