Posts tagged ‘21st Century Learning’

Ted Talks: Education Revolution Overview

“The great aim of education is not knowledge but action.” by Herbert Spencer

Ted Talks: Education Revolution recently aired on PBS with hosts Baratunde Thurston and Sara Ramirez that had a great line up of speakers. Below is an overview and highlights of the show and I encourage you to watch the show in full here on PBS (60 minutes) or if there is a specific clip you want to watch, they are below. I loved all the Ted Talks as I believe everything they discussed is what we need to do to improve our education system. You can also follow the conversation #TEDTalksPBS.

Sal Khan from Khan Academy

  • Believes there are two key leverage points for learning:
    • Mastery
    • Mindset
  • Believes we should allow students time to master skills based on their need verse a set pacing guide.
  • They need practice and authentic feedback
  • We need to do school differently – we are not in the industrial age but an information revolution age.

Greg Whiteley (no clip, if you want to view – you will need to watch the full video. If you watched – Most Likely to Succeed, Whiteley views are embedded as he was the director.)

  • Believes we need to not teach like we did in the industrial age but for today’s world. For example we should not lecture and have students regurgitate information but rather have student led discussions.
  • Believes teachers should work in teams and blend subjects and contents.
  • Believes students should work on projects verse rote skills.

Julie Lythcott-Haims Author of How to Raise an Adult

  • Believes we spend a lot of time on parents that aren’t involved enough in school and kids lives (and rightly so) that we forget about the other end of the spectrum of the parent that overprotective by micromanaging
  • Parents have the misconception that their student wont have a good future if they don’t (fill in the blank)  get good grades or get into a particular college or don’t get into the career.
  • We deprive our children learning about self efficacy when we do this
  •  Parents should be more concerned about building their skills and habits verse grades to help them become prepared for the real world.

Meshell NDegeocello musician who played in-between Ted Talks

Victor Rios Professor and Author of  Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys (New Perspectives in Crime, Deviance, and Law)

  • Grew up in poverty and incarcerated three times by age 15 but a teacher changed his life by caring and tapped into his soul.
  • He believes there are three strategies teachers can use to help students:
    1. Get rid of our deficit perspective in education
    2. Value the stories that young people bring to school
    3. Provide resources to all students
  • Believes we should have restorative justice course in every school

Heather Courtney and Anayansi Prado co-directed a documentary film called The Unafraid, which follows the lives of undocumented students and the underground movement they are building.

Anna Deavere Smith

  • Goes across the country studying about why so many poor kids can’t make it through school and very often end up in jail.
  • She shares two young people’s stories from Baltimore, Maryland. She does this in a unique way by interviewing them and then acting it out word for word for the audience.

Geeta Gandbhir and Perri Peltz shared a short film on how unconscious bias can sometimes sneak up on us.

Nadia Lopez, Principal and Ted Talk: Why open a school? To close a prison 

  • Her goal was to open a school, to close a prison in one of the toughest areas a Brooklyn, NY.
  • She was up against trying to find teachers that had empathy and want to teacher in this school that had lack of technology, low parental involvement and neighborhood gangs that recruit kids as early as 4th graders.
  • Her student population was 100% poverty, 86% below grade level in Math and Reading and 30% special needs.
  • If our students are not in the classrooms, how will they learn.

Sara Ramirez closed the show performing her song Rollercoaster.



Shake Things up with Breakout Edu

“A dream is your creative vision for your life in the future. You must break out of your current comfort zone and become comfortable with the unfamiliar and the unknown.” by Denis Waitley

In the fall I was introduced to Breakout Edu randomly at a conference when talking with a small group during a session on critical thinking. So I bought a kit to see what it was all about. Over the last few month I have been using it during professional developments to help other educators see how and why we should use them in schools and classrooms. Everyone that has participated has loved it! So imagine my surprise when I was combing through my blog posts and was shocked that I hadn’t written a post about Breakout Edu yet, so here it is!

Breakout Edu are timed challenge games where you have to solve puzzles to unlock a box with something hidden inside. It is similar to the escape rooms where you pay to get “locked in” a room and try to escape by solving puzzles and unlocking codes. Check out this introducing Breakout Edu video so learn more.

The below infographic (created by Sylvia Duckworth @sylviaduckworth) shows 10 reasons to play breakout edu. I have done breakouts with not only students but also adults, like I mentioned above, during Professional Development. When I recently did one for  Principals, many bought the kits to do for their opening staff meeting for the new school year. Kits are $99.00 and the site offers lots of games (k-12, common core aligned and/or skills based) that are already created and/or you can make your own.



I highly suggest reviewing and testing the games before implementation. I have had my husband do them to make sure it will run smoothly and it gives me time to work out any kinks. Recently Breakout Edu has come out with a companion app called Locks that you can use as well. For additional information, follow @BreakoutEDU along with co-founders James Sanders (@jamestsanders) and Mark Hammons (@mhammons) on Twitter. Also check out other Breakout Edu articles and resources below:

Low-tech ‘Breakout EDU’ looks to invigorate education one wooden box at a time

Breakout EDU – You Had Me At Breakout!

Adam Bellow Becomes CEO of Breakout EDU to Spread Gamified Learning


Puzzle and Clue Maker Symbaloo

Facebook Breakout Edu Public Group

I also frequently get asked the same few questions when doing this during PD’s that I have answered below in case you have the same questions:

  1. What happens if the students don’t finish in the time limit? I have yet to have this happen but if it did you can do a few different things. You can give them more time (especially if it is their first time trying a breakout) as it is a different way of thinking. You can also have them take a break and try later or if you had them in groups have them now work all together.
  2. What happens if not all the students collaborate? Just like any group project, this could happen and you can facilitate that problem as you see fit.
  3. I have a mixed ability class, what happens if the low students can’t do them or the high students take over etc? I have yet to see this happen as well. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses and this game allows everyone to take part in a different way. When you first introduce the game you can also make sure you set expectations that everyone needs to work together. I also used to use social skill cards to help remind students. (See previous blog post, Teaching Communication and Collaboration)

Give Breakout Edu a try in your classroom and school, I think you will love it as much as I have.

Using Memes in the Classroom

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” ~Vincent Van Gogh

Memes are images, videos, etc that has a message attached to it. Memes have been made popular on social media sites but they can also be popular in the classroom or in Professional Developments. Below are 5 ways you can use memes and how to make one.

  1. Create rules/procedures for your classroom, school or PD session using memes
  2. Have students create for a message they need to convey for any topic (Ex political or current event)
  3. Use them to teach digital citizenship. For example teaching students to recognize memes versus truths
  4. Have students create one for a character in a book they are reading
  5. Have students create motivational posters or create messages for PD sessions









I like using Make a Meme site because it’s free and simple. First decide what you are creating a meme for (what is your goal). Then follow these three easy steps”

  1. Create an account to login (FREE)
  2. Explore meme pictures or create your own based on your goal.
    • To make mine above I used an app called bitemoji  to make my avatar (that looks like me) and then uploaded it to the site.
  3. Add the text content and click create your meme
    • Note you can make the meme private or public. I made mine private so only I can use it and it can not be found in the gallery.

Some memes can be inappropriate for students, so a level of supervision is recommended. We must remember to always remind our students of our digital citizenships expectations and that students under 13 need permission to use web tools based on the COPPA Law . Other sites you can create meme’s with are Google drawings, Know Your Meme and Meme Creator.

As always I would love to hear your ideas and thoughts on using memes in the classroom.

Integrating Kid-Entrepreneurs into the Classroom

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” Walt Disney

We are hearing more and more about ‘Kid-Entrepreneurs’ from different sources such as the news to shark tank. Often teachers ask me, ‘how do you let the students know about these students?’ Below I give you three ways you can add it into your classroom, share my favorite 12 Kid-Entrepreneurs and a few sites that also can help you.

  1. Create a Kid-Entrepreneurs bulletin board in your classroom. On this board have the Kid-Entrepreneurs pictures and some information about what they invented. (Make it interactive and let the students add to it – you will be surprised how any go home and research it!)
  2. Use articles that are about Kid-Entrepreneurs in your classroom. For example have them do a close read.
  3. Add it into your morning meetings/class advisory time; once a week you can highlight a Kid-Entrepreneur.

Kid-Entrepreneurs to utilize in the Classroom:

  1. Adora Svitak, age 18  (started at 12)  Writer, speaker, advocate (if you haven’t watched her Ted Talks you are missing out, my favorite is ‘What adults can learn from kids’)
  2. Jake Andraka, age 17 (started at 15) – Jack Andraka
  3. Mikaila Ulmer, age 11 – Me and the Bees
  4. Alina Morse, age 10 – Zollipops
  5. Isabella Rose Taylor, age 15 – Isabella Rose Taylor Fashion
  6. Kid President, age 14, (started at 10) Kid President
  7. Rachel Zietz, age 15 – Gladiator Lacrosse
  8. Madison Robinson, ag2 18 (started at 12) – Fish Flops
  9. Mercer Henderson, age 13 – Audiots
  10. Thomas Suarez, age 17 (started at 12) CarrotCorp (His Ted Talk as an app developer)
  11. Hart Main, age 18 (started at 13) ManCans 
  12. E2D (a local Kid-Entrepreneurs from Charlotte)

Meet 15 Superkids Who Are Going to Change the World

9 Amazing (Very) Young Entrepreneurs 

Other Kid-Entrepreneurs Resources:

Kidpresneurs Site

Project Based Entrepreneurship (Biz World)

Biz Kids Site

The Start-Up Kids

Google Science Contest

Kids News (Entrepreneurs) 

Lesson Plans for Classroom Activities on Entrepreneurship 

Ted Talk  Related to Kid-Entrepreneurs 


You might even have some Kid-Entrepreneurs in your classroom!

#NCTIES16 Round Up

“Leadership provides the vehicle for others to generate ideas!” By @PrincipalKafele 

One of my favorite conferences every year is #NCTIES. Below I have done a round up of resources from the sessions I  attended in no particular order that you can now look at and utilize in your classroom.

Best of the Web 2016 by Richard Byrne

Mobile Apps in Common Core Aligned ELA & Social Studies Lessons by Richard Byrne

Teaching “Wired” Learners by  Kevin Honeycutt

  • Use a video as an opportunity to narrate a story
  • Student Created Products
  • Quotes from Honeycutt that are meaningful:
    • Stop finding reasons to fail
    • Help students understand the transformational power of tech
    • The only cavalry that will save you is you!
    • People protect and support what they are proud of – tell the stories of success
      • People won’t attack stories about student success
    • Your biggest weakness is your biggest strength, ready to be told well.
    • Emotion cements learning

Sketchnoting in Classroom by Kathy Schrock
Global Collaboration (To Fit Your Needs) by Pernille Ripp

S.T.E.A.M Powered PBL for K/1 by Jill Zsuppan and Heather Surgen

Other random things I picked up:

  • Create a “You Matter Wall” have your kiddos write thoughtful messages to other students, teachers, family members, etc

  • Your plan and reality are not always the same!

  • Use the square root of your staff to find the number of staff to find momentum to see change in the classroom, coaching is a must

  • “We don’t need consensus  – we need momentum”

  • “What is the evidence that I am the instructional leader of my school?”

  • Stop and review your game film.  Is what you are doing making a difference for our students?



Abbott and Castello Problem Solving Tasks

“We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them” By Albert Einstein

I love using the below Abbott and Castello videos in the classroom because they are a great way to link problem solving and digital literacy plus give them a little history! (Like how I rhymed there ;-))  Here is how I have utilized them as tasks for the students.

Who’s on First: I do a ‘close read’ style  lesson for this task. First, I have them listen to it once without the diagram, the second time they get a blank baseball diamond to fill out as best they can. The third time they listen to it as many times as they want until they feel like they have it. (This allows them to close read with digital literacy) Once they have it completed they partner up and discuss. I then have a solution station for them to check out how well they did. I also recently came across the book Who’s on First (Thank you Danielle) which I would add to the solution station.

Abbott & Costello 7 x 13 = 28: For this video I have the students help out Abbott & Costello by creating a video skit explaining why 7 x 13 is not 28 three different ways. I give them a story map to guide the students to make sure they have the content before they record the video.

Abbott & Costello Two Tens for a Five: For this video task I have the students help out Abbott & Costello by either writing a letter or creating a book explaining what is happening.

If you have any Abbott & Costello videos you have utilized in the classroom as a task for students, I would love to add it to my list! Please share in the comments.



Identity Day

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” By Walt Disney

I am always reading, looking at twitter and being a connected educator to learn from others. This week I learned about Identity Day from George Couros and I don’t know how I missed it but it is an awesome idea!

Identity Day is day dedicated to students/teachers interests that they want to share. The students (and teachers too) create a project on themselves but there is no criteria, no grade and no set topic. It is then set up like a ‘science fair’ or museum where people can go and read/talk to others.

Sound similar to Genius Hour? I thought so too but there is two distinct differences.

  1. Students/Teachers are doing a project on themselves and what they are interested in. For example: I might do a project on my favorite author because I like to read or on Yoga as that is a hobby I enjoy verse something on education because that is my passion.
  2. It is school wide and includes teachers. This builds community and culture within the school allowing students to learn about others and their teachers outside of the typical school day topics.

It was great reading on Twitter how so many teachers learned a lot of new things about their students that they wouldn’t of typically learned about in a regular school day. Here are some Identity Day resources to get it started at your school:

A Week by Week Guide to Creating a Successful Identity Day Livebinder

Their First 15 Minutes; Identity Day

Identity Day 2012

Identity Day Prezi

I would love to hear if you have implemented Identity Day and your thoughts on it! Please share in the comment section so we can all learn from each other.

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