Showing posts from July, 2012

Imagine Making Work "Hard Fun"

Late last night, I finished reading my second "fun read" for the summer. It was "Ready Player One" - a science-fiction thriller based on a futuristic society where everyone lives in a 1980's science fiction/game-based virtual reality. Tons of fun! Earlier this summer, I read "Man-made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity." It's a hilarious book about the author's quest for what it takes to "be a man" in light of the upcoming birth of his first son.

After finishing these two rather "light" reads, I decided it was time to read something a little more serious  - something I could use in the workplace. Then I remembered I'd been eyeing a book called "Imagine: How Creativity Works" for quite some time. The book description from author Jonah Lehrer's website states ....
"["Imagine" is] a sparkling and revelatory look at the new science of creativity. Shattering the myth of muses, higher powers, even cr…

Create Fake Text Messages for Free!

We all know how our students like to text. My own children text more than they talk on their iPhones. Texting is not without its own merits. In fact, I recently saw an infographic on the Benefits of Texting.

So, why not tap into this interest and let our students get creative in the process? At, users can create screen shots of fake text interactions. You simply type in a name to appear at the top of the text message screen, then use two names with a colon after each to create your text. (You really don't even need to type full names since they don't appear in the screen shot).  For example, for the sample shown above I used:
R: Hey Juliet! Saw you at the party last night.
J: Yeah. I saw you too.
R: How about a date?
J: Not a good idea. In case u haven't noticed, our families don't get along! LOL!
R: Come on! One date won't kill you!
J: Oh, OK. You have a way with words!
R: Sweet! After typing your message into the editing box, you click create screen…

Need Help Engaging Community on District's Social Media Pages

One of my responsibilities in my role in the district is the maintenance of our district and campus websites and our social media pages. I love the task and see it as more "fun" than "work."

Our social media pages on Facebook and Twitter have been active for about a year and we have a decent following for a school our size. But, I'd like to really take advantage of the interactive aspect of Facebook much more this year.

I want to actively engage our parents and community members by soliciting their feedback. Bear in mind, I don't want to open any of Pandora's boxes or incite a heated online debate. I want to engage our community in fun and engaging ways.

I did a little of this last year. I ran a little weekly contest last fall during football season. I'd post a Cole High School trivia question and give away a free ticket to the football game for the first correct response. It was well received and the community learned a little about our schools.


Create Infographics Easily with!

If you've never heard the term "infographic" chances are you've at least seen one. They're popping up all over the place on a variety of topics. An infographic is a visual representation of data and information in an easy to understand format, usually rich in color and full of great graphics and clipart. I remember when USA Today first came out years ago, their "USA TODAY Snapshots" were the first I ever saw of these types of visual graphics.

Now, we see infographics on everything from health insurance, to The Beatles, to Easter candy. If you want see some more great examples of infographics, just check out the Daily Infographics blog.

Well, as I always look for ways to integrate the latest and greatest crazes into the classroom, I started looking for tools to create infographics that teachers could use. Sure, you could use PhotoShop to create stunning graphics, but not all students and teachers have access to it, nor do they have the experience of work…

Are We in Prison or in a Learning Organization?

My friend, Miguel Guhlin, has recently started reading Phil Schlechty's book "Leading for Learning" and has been doing a remarkable job posting his notes on his "Around the Corner" blog. Last night he finished chapter four, in which Phil touches on his metaphor of schools.

My district has been deeply entrenched in Schlechty's work for going on six years now and we've looked at this metaphor of schools many, many times. In short, Phil proposes that schools exist either as "prisons" at one end of the spectrum or as "learning organizations" at the other end.
Along the continuum, schools can be viewed as warehouses, factories, or professional service delivery organizations. In his matrix, Schlechty describes what contributions (or limitations) different members of the school system contribute at each of these levels. For example, in a prison-like model, parents are viewed as distrusted visitors while the teachers are guards. At the other…

Arcademics! Cool FREE Online Educational Games.

I finally got around to trying out  a great suite of FREE online educational games at Arcademics ( I saw them at this year's ISTE and had a few minutes to play with the site today. I must say I was really impressed!

The site contains a multitude of single and multi-player games categorized into a variety of topics like addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, algebra, fractions, money, time, and more! To start a game, users select a game, enter a username, and then either join an existing game or create a new one. If you create a new game you can select whether the game is "public" or "private." If it's private then players will need the password you create to join your game. To join, classmates simply go the site and select the same game. After entering a username they search for the game you started and enter the password. Then, you're all off the races!

My student interns and I tried several games. Most had a racing theme,…