Friday, May 25, 2012

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

15 Critical Facts Everyone Should Know About Summer Learning Loss

Cross posted from
Summer vacation is a long entrenched tradition for American schoolchildren and their families, but new research is showing that this practice may not be the best when it comes to helping kids get the most out of their educational experience. In fact, for some kids, a few months off in the summer can lead to major setbacks in school, including loss of knowledge and lowered test scores. Many schools, aware of the growing body of evidence that points to the educational problems summer vacations pose, are switching to year-round schedules, but there are many more around the nation that are finding it hard to make the switch due to resistance from teachers, students, and parents alike. Here, we share some facts that can help make understanding why extended summer vacations should be a thing of the past for modern students, especially those who are in high-risk communities where every moment in the classroom counts.
  1. Students score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do at the beginning of summer vacation

    While having a few months off for rest and relaxation might seem beneficial to students, it can actually have some serious consequences. The traditional long summer vacation often results in serious learning loss, something researchers have known for more than 100 years now. A century of study has shown that students routinely score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they did just a few months earlier, with low-income and at-risk students seeing the biggest drops, the exact groups so many schools are trying so hard to push to have better test scores.
  2. Students will lose about two months of math computational skills over the summer

    When it comes to summer learning loss, math takes one of the biggest hits. On average, students lose about 2.6 months worth of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills during their summer break. With many schools struggling to meet state and federal standards in math, these kinds of losses aren't doing anything to help matters.
  3. Reading and spelling abilities are also affected

    Math isn't the only subject that takes a knock over summer vacation. Losses in reading and spelling abilities may also occur, though income may play a significant role in how severe these losses are, or whether or not they occur at all. While middle-income students usually see a rise in reading performance during the summer months, lower-income students may lose two or more months worth of reading achievement. Students at all income levels, however, were likely to lose a month or more of spelling learning skills, the second highest loss in any area.
  4. Students with the biggest losses over the summer are in already higher-risk low income groups

    Sadly, the students who see the biggest drops in test scores and educational achievement are those who are in lower-income groups. Income plays a major role in determining just how much learning loss will occur over the summer, with students from middle- or upper-class families undergoing much lower levels of learning loss than their poorer counterparts.
  5. Summer learning loss can follow students through high school, college, and beyond

    Summer learning loss isn't a temporary phenomenon. Losses can accumulate over years, eventually resulting in students who perform below their grade level. Low-income students, those who lose the most from time away from school, see the biggest impact, not only reporting lower test scores but higher drop-out rates and lower numbers of students who head to college.
  6. Only 9.2% of America's 48 million students attend summer school

    Today, just under 10% of students nationwide participate in summer school or attend schools with non-traditional calendars. That means that more than 90% of students in America will be at risk for potentially damaging summer learning loss.
  7. Parents play a key role in filling in the gaps over the summer

    When it comes to helping stanch summer learning loss, parents have a key role to play. Learning loss is much less pronounced, if there at all, in families that enrolled children in classes, took trips to local libraries, participated in reading programs, or took advantage of other, often free, learning opportunities. Numerous studies have shown that children have much better reading outcomes when parents are involved in learning about and helping their children with literacy.
  8. The current 9-month school calendar was established to suit demands that no longer exist

    Having a nice, long summer vacation may be an American tradition, but it isn't one that really reflects the needs and demands of the modern world. The traditional academic calendar used in most schools was developed when most families worked in agriculture and air conditioning systems had yet to be invented. Since neither of these are realities in much of America these days, many have argued that long summer breaks simply aren't necessary anymore, especially because they take such a hefty toll on test scores and academic performance.
  9. Much of the achievement gap between disadvantaged youths and their peers can be explained by summer learning loss in elementary school

    Because students who are from low-income families have unequal access to summer learning opportunities, many fall behind in their studies and cannot keep up with their wealthier peers. While it might not seem that the summer months would have a big impact on students, it's estimated that as much as two-thirds of the achievement gap is the result of summer learning loss. As a result of these early losses, low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or to enter college.
  10. Many parents and students want to engage in summer learning programs but do not have access to them

    A 2010 report by the Afterschool Alliance found that, while only 25% of students were currently participating in summer learning programs, many more would like the opportunity to do so. A full 83% of parents supported spending public funds on summer learning programs and 67% of low-income parents said their children would enroll in a summer program if they could.
  11. What students lose in knowledge, they often gain in weight

    Students get more than book learning from time spent at school; they also learn to eat a healthy diet. Many depend on the nutritious meals given to them by their school to be able to maintain a healthy diet. When these federally subsidized meals are no longer available to them, students often make poorer food choices, especially when left unsupervised by working parents. Currently, only one in five of the 15.3 million children who participate in the free or reduced lunch program get federally sponsored lunches over the summer. A 2007 study found that most children, especially those already at risk of obesity, gain weight more rapidly over summer break.
  12. Research shows that teachers typically spend between four to six weeks re-teaching material that students have forgotten over the summer

    Summer learning loss isn't just bad for students, it also makes things more difficult for educators. In order to come back from losses caused by an extended time away from school, teachers must spend a month or more re-teaching or reviewing material students have already been taught. It goes without saying that this is a huge waste of valuable classroom time that could be better spent teaching students new material.
  13. More than 11% of children between the ages of 6 and 12 care for themselves over the summer months

    This means that they are unsupervised, a situation that is not only dangerous but that often leads to greater summer learning losses, as children are not being guided through learning opportunities like trips to the library, museums, or educational vacations. Low-income children are much more likely to be left unsupervised (likely due to the high costs of childcare), a fact that is reflected in greater levels of learning loss.
  14. Out-of-school time can be dangerous for unsupervised children and teens

    Students who are alone for most of the day over summer vacation aren't just losing important educational information, they're also being put at a higher risk for dropping out altogether. Unsupervised children and teens are more likely to use alcohol, drugs, and tobacco; engage in criminal and other high-risk behaviors; receive poor grades; and drop out of school than those who are supervised and engaged by adults over the summer months and after school during the school year.
  15. Most summer learning programs are remedial

    Sadly, students today have few options for federally- and state-sponsored summer school programs. Summer school has a negative connotation which can make students reluctant to take classes and parents unwilling to enroll them. Why? More than 90% of summer school programs are remedial, targeting only students who are not performing at grade level. While these kinds of programs can be positive for students, studies have shown that year-round education programs and extended school years are far more effective methods of stemming the summer learning loss phenomenon.

History Pin

Historypin is a way for millions of people to come together to share glimpses of the past and build up the story of human history. It allows anyone with the Google account to explore the images, You can either add images or can explore the imagery added by others.

View the video below to learn more about Historypin.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

50 Inspiring Gap Year Ideas for High School Students

cross posted from

Gap years have long been a common occurrence for students in Europe and Australia but are just now catching on in the U.S. Some students use them as a chance to gain work experience, some want to see the world, and others just want to feel a little more ready to head to college. Whatever the reason behind choosing a gap year, there are numerous possibilities for customizing the experience to your own unique needs and interests. Here, we share just a few inspiring ideas for trips and experiences that you're sure to remember for years to come.


If you'd like to gain valuable work experience during your gap year, consider these ideas.

1.Teach in South America. Want to mix an adventure in the wilds of South America with some teaching experience? Head to Ecuador to help young children learn English and gain academic skills while enjoying some jungle treks, mountain biking, and white-water rafting.

2.WWOOF your way around the world. If you need a way to fund your gap year, consider WWOOFing it. Not sure what that it is? It's a group called World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms that can help young high school grads work as they travel by offering work on farms around the world.

3.Take on an internship in another country. There are numerous programs that can help you find internships abroad, letting you gain experience while living and working in a new and exciting location.

4.Help people with small tasks. Another way to help fund a gap is by taking on jobs found through HelpX, a site that matches up those who need help with smaller tasks like building, farming, and even sailing with those who need free accommodation and food.

5.Help out with the family business. If you think you might want to go into the family business, take a gap year to work, getting to know the ropes. You might find a major that will suit your career in the business, or learn that it's just not for you.

6.Work on a farm or ranch. City types can expand their horizons during a gap year by heading out to the country to get experience working on a farm or ranch. Get a bit more adventurous by heading to a farm overseas.

7.Start your own business. Always dreamed of being an entrepreneur? Use your gap year to pull together a business plan, inspired by your travels, internships, or great ideas you've always wanted to try.

8.Teach English somewhere far-flung. Head to Asia, South America, or the Middle East to see what life is like on the other side of the world and gain some valuable work experience in the process.

9.Become an au pair. Being an au pair can be a truly wonderful way to experience a bit of the world while working. You'll get to live with a local family, learn the language, and taste all aspects of the culture.

10.Work on an oil rig. While it might not be for everyone, working in an extreme situation, like on an oil rig, can be an amazing life experience that will more than prepare you for the challenges of college.


Many people want to spend their gap years traveling as much as possible. These are just a few ideas for some seriously amazing trips.

11.Take a train ride though Europe. Europe is perhaps one of the easiest places to get around by train. Buy a Eurorail pass and you can travel to 23 different countries.

12.Backpack through Asia. Find a friend, grab a backpack, and trek through the beautiful mountains, coasts, and cities of Southeast Asia. If you don't find backpacking fun, you can always take a more traditional trip as well.

13.Take a safari. Love wildlife? A safari is a great way to get up close and personal with many animals you've only seen in zoos.

14.Hop on the Trans-Siberian Railway. An overland trip, like one offered by the Trans-Siberian Railway, is a great way to see a country. The thousands of miles of this railroad stretch through China, Mongolia, Manchuria, Russia, and North Korea.

15.Take an extended road trip. America is a big, big country and chances are pretty good that even if you're well-traveled you haven't seen even a fraction of what it has to offer. A long road trip (in a reliable car) with some friends can help you to see some of the sights you've been missing.

16.Become a global foodie. If you've ever seen the show No Reservations then you know that half the fun of visiting new places can be tasting the local cuisine. If you're a lover of fine foods, why not make that a focus of your travels?

17.See great works of art. No matter where you travel in the world, there are bound to be museums and monuments where you can see some of the most iconic and beautiful works ever created, a real education for any budding art historian or artist.

18.Visit all the national parks. There are 58 national parks in the United States, making it possible for the determined traveler to hit nearly all of them in a year.

19.Drive a camper through Australia. The Australian outback, as barren and open as it is, has a mysterious sort of appeal. Rent a camper to explore this huge country down under, outback, cities, and coasts alike, during your gap year.


Give your gap year a deeper meaning by helping others. Find some great ideas for a variety of volunteering trips here.

20.Help wildlife in Borneo. Borneo is a popular place to volunteer, largely because of the wildlife. You can work at centers that help rehabilitate orangutans, monkeys, and even some unique species of birds.

21.Volunteer in your community. While it can be exciting to volunteer abroad, it's likely that there are plenty of organizations closer to home that could use your help as well. If you're not sure where to start, consider an online network like VolunteerMatch.

22.Help rebuild America. The National Civilian Community Corps or AmeriCorps is a great place to learn leadership skills while helping communities in need.

23.Volunteer for community projects in Africa. Whether you teach school, help bring water to villages, build homes, or something else entirely, a trip to Africa can help you see the world while helping others.

24.Work to save an endangered species. Both within the U.S. and in a variety of places around the globe people are working tirelessly to help rebuild and protect populations of seriously endangered species. You can help the effort by volunteering your time.

25.Become part of a conservation effort. Check out opportunities offered by the Student Conservation Association to use your time off to help save trees, national parks, and American wildlife.

26.Join City Year. Give a year of your life to this organization, focused on helping keep kids interested, engaged, and excelling in school.


Give yourself the experience of a lifetime with these gap year ideas.

27.Go on an expedition to Antarctica. If you're the adventurous type (and don't mind some chilly temps) a trip to the bottom of the world could be a pretty cool (pun intended) way to spend a few months out of your gap year.

28.Walk the Appalachian Trail. Stretching from Maine to Georgia, this popular and well-worn trail will test your mettle as you navigate your way through the mountains, valleys, and forests of the eastern United States.

29.See the Seven Wonders of the World. While you'll only be able to see one of the ancient wonders, you can still take in the modern wonders, or embrace the natural wonders, all of which can be equally awe-inspiring.

30.Become a sailor on a tall ship. Becoming a sailor on a tall ship is one way to embrace your love of the sea, while seeing ports in the U.S. and around the world to boot.

31.Run away with the circus. As silly as it might sound, if you have a skill or talent that might be valuable to a circus, traveling from town to town with one really could be a life-changing experience.


Get an education while you see the world when you try out these ideas.

32.Learn a language in a foreign country. These days, knowing another language can be a huge asset to your career and there's no better way to do it than with complete immersion. Head to France to learn French or China to learn Chinese for an incredibly valuable and educational gap year.

33.Learn how to do something new. Just because you're not in college doesn't mean you can't take classes. Use your gap year, wherever you choose to spend it, taking classes in art, cooking, dance, or whatever else interests you but isn't applicable to your future career.

34.Explore the ruins of an ancient culture. One of the most awe-inspiring experiences you can have learning about history is by seeing the ruins left behind by an ancient culture. Head to Peru, Egypt, Greece, China, or dozens of other history-filled destinations for a thoroughly educational and inspiring experience.

35.Take an extended sailing trip. There are a number of different companies that offer classes on a ship, so you can learn while sailing to and exploring the world's most amazing port cities.

36.Make a documentary. If the idea of making a documentary during your gap year excites you, consider signing up for the Brown Ledge program that trains students on documentary technologies and works to explore different cities in the U.S. using them.

37.Study a foreign culture. Don't be an armchair anthropologist! Get out there and do research in the real world, studying people, places, and cultures around the world while you're taking time off from school. You may eventually be able to adapt your research into a stellar final thesis. If you can't afford to go away, you can also study people in your hometown.

38.Research in the Galapagos. For many, spending six months to a year in the Galapagos doing research and working with conservationists sounds like a dream come true. If it appeals to you, contact the Darwin Foundation and you could just be spending your gap year in these amazing isles.


Athletic types will love these ideas for amazing gap years.

39.Train for an athletic event. If you've always dreamed of taking part in an Ironman or maybe even heading to the Olympics, a gap year can be the perfect time to train and get in the best shape of your life. Even better, you can earn money while training others in the sport of your choice.

40.Bike through a country. Travel can also be a serious workout if you explore by bike. Pack up your wheels and head abroad to see the world by your own power.

41.Surf the world's best beaches. Aquatic types can spend their gap year catching waves at some of the world's best surf spots.

42.Pick up a new sport and practice like crazy. Always wanted to be a skater? Feel the need to be able to shoot a bow? Your gap year offers ample time to build these skills.

43.Ski your way through your gap year. There is plentiful skiing the world over, and for dedicated skiers, a gap year may be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to hit the slopes in places like Canada, Switzerland, Chile, and even China. You can even get training to become a ski or snowboard instructor, a skill that you can use to earn money while in college, too.


Use these ideas to make your gap year a deeply spiritual and moving experience you'll never forget.

44.Go on a pilgrimage. One of the most famous pilgrimage routes is the Camino de Santiago, which thousands of pilgrims, some religious, some not, still walk or bike each year. You can follow this route or one of the dozens of other pilgrimage routes around the world for a purpose-driven and empowering way to spend your gap year.

45.Go on a yoga or meditation retreat. Whether you choose to stay close to home or travel halfway around the world, a retreat of this nature can help you build focus, find your purpose, and calm your mind.

46.Fulfill as many lifelong dreams as possible. You likely won't have a time in your life when you're as free, healthy, and fearless as you are during your gap year, so make the most of it by fulfilling some of your life dreams. Some may be big, like seeing the pyramids, and some may be small, like swimming at night, but whatever they are, go for them!

47.Head to a kibbutz. Learn to work in a communal setting by taking part in a kibbutz in rural Israel. Before you start, you may even have time to see some of the country's most holy sites.

48.Help promote peace. Get in touch with an organization like Volunteers for Peace to find out how you can spend your gap year helping to promote peace in locations around the world.

49.Take a spiritual journey through India. India has long been the destination for those in search of spiritual answers. Whether you find a guru or simply take in the sights and sounds of this diverse and fascinating country, you're bound to learn more about yourself in the process.

50.Visit the world's holy sites. No matter your faith, visiting some of the world's most famous holy sites is a deeply moving experience that may just help you find guidance and inspiration for your future

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

48 Great Ways Homeschoolers are Using Pinterest

Cross posted from
Pinterest has proven itself to be a valuable tool for so many people: photographers, designers, craft artists, wedding planners, moms, and more. It's a great place to discover interesting ideas, organize your thoughts, and pin down resources that otherwise might get lost in the shuffle. Homeschooling parents make up another group that benefits greatly from Pinterest, as they share unit studies, school room inspiration, and fun classroom project ideas. Read on to learn more about how homeschoolers are finding value in Pinterest, and some of the interesting ways they're putting the site to work in the home classroom.

Check my pinterest:


Whether you're connecting with a homeschool family at your church down the street or through Pinterest in another state, social interaction and sharing is a fun way to enrich homeschooling. These are a few of the ways Pinterest makes that easier.

Join homeschool groups
: Homeschool communities are coming together to create collaborative boards with writing activities, classroom ideas, books, things to order and more, all put on Pinterest to share with the group and anyone else who wants to follow along.
Laugh about homeschooling: Connect with other homeschoolers on Pinterest to find humorous pins that will keep you going with a smile on your face.
Get feedback: Share ideas and resources from your homeschool classroom, curriculum, and more to find out what other homeschoolers think about what you're doing, and maybe even find ways to improve it.
Connect with similar homeschoolers: Stay on Pinterest long enough, and you're bound to run into others with similar ideas for homeschooling that you can collaborate and connect with.
Swap lesson plans: Have a lesson plan you loved? Put it on Pinterest, and look for great lesson plans from others.
See what homeschool looks like at someone else's home: Satisfy your curiosity for finding out what kind of homeschool experience other families are enjoying.
Find encouragement: Search for homeschool resources on Pinterest, and you're certain to find small pieces of encouragement to remind you why your job as a homeschooler is so important.


Spend any amount of time on Pinterest and you're bound to be flabbergasted by the sheer amount of inspiration and valuable resources you can find on the site. These are great ways homeschoolers can gather resources through Pinterest.

School room decor inspiration: Pinterest is full of great ideas for decor, including kids' rooms and even classrooms.
Create digital news clippings: Find news clippings that are relevant for your kids to check out and pin them to a rotating board that they use to start their school day, learning about current events and issues that are relevant to their curriculum.
Find homeschool planners: Pinners love to share their homeschool plans, so you can use the site to check out what other families are doing that week.
Discover great books: Use Pinterest to find the best homeschooling books and great books you can put to work in lessons.
Find studying cheat sheets: Use Pinterest to discover great sheets of information on lots of different subjects.
Resource gathering for presentations: Kids can use Pinterest to find ideas and photos to use in presentations.
Discovering lessons: At some point, the question of what to teach can be a problem for homeschoolers, but Pinterest offers endless ideas for lessons that you can try with your kids.
Get your kids out of the house: Use Pinterest to find outdoor nature ideas to use on a nice day, and burn off some energy in the backyard or park.
Find educational videos: Check out Pinterest to easily locate great videos that you can use in your home classroom.
Find the best photos for your lessons: Quickly and easily locate high-quality and inspiring photos to use in homeschooling lessons through Pinterest.
Gather free resources: Find homeschool freebies, free learning resources, printables, and much more on Pinterest.
Track homeschool-friendly activities: Find out about your city's activities at the zoo, special events, find classes at the history and science museum, and more.
Create study boards: Pinterest is a great place to add activities that suit specific study units, and then go back and browse them with the kids.
Highlighting great art: Find and pin fine art to study as part of a unit, or pin great photos and art ideas that you can try out yourself.
Develop hands-on learning: Check out Pinterest to find great ideas for hands-on learning projects, especially seasonal crafts.
Locating printables: Printable games, work projects, and more are coming out in droves on Pinterest, and you can quickly find and organize them with the site.
Discover experiments: Find great ideas for science experiments you can try at home on Pinterest, and bring your science lessons to life.
Kitchen chemistry inspiration: Pinterest is full of mouth-watering and fun recipes to try out, usually with plenty of photos and easy-to-follow steps that make them perfect for trying out with kids for a regular lesson in kitchen chemistry.
Finding homeschool blogs: Homeschool blogs are a great place to find ideas, and the selections you can find on Pinterest are just the tip of the iceberg. Using Pinterest to find great ideas can also help you find excellent homeschool blogs with even more great ideas.


As a visual bookmarking site, Pinterest is an organizer's dream. Here are just a few of the ways homeschoolers can get organized with Pinterest.

Create a wishlist: Build a wishlist and shopping list to keep track of all of the items you'd like to have for your classroom.
Taming the magazine pile: If you have homeschool and craft magazines clogging up your classroom, you can photograph and pin your favorite ideas to save and organize them, and then dispose of the magazines without guilt or anxiety.
Avoiding distraction: Distracted mama brain can leave you paralyzed, but with Pinterest, you can just pin resources that you come across and check it out later.
Save holiday activities for the future: If you're months away from Christmas, but found some really great ornament crafts to try out in the classroom, you can pin them to a holiday-specific board, and they'll be right there waiting for you when the holiday comes around again.
Organized resources: The Internet is full of worksheets, craft ideas, educational games, and more, and with Pinterest, you can keep them all in neat and highly visual organized bookmarks.
Inventory your books: Save your library to Pinterest, and your kids can visually browse all of the books you have whether they're near the bookcase or not. They can even add comments to the pin and repin them to boards for units or favorite novels.
Easy access to bookmarks: Homeschooling parents who once had thousands upon thousands of text bookmarks can now use Pinterest instead, browsing them in a fun and visual way.
Streamlining weekly lesson planning: Planning lessons can take a lot of time each week, but homeschool parents who have used Pinterest to pin to theme boards have been able to cut out hours of planning time.
Find new ways to make your classroom more organized: Pinterest has seemingly endless ideas for organizing spaces, and you can find great resources for corralling the mess of papers and projects that your classroom accumulates through Pinterest.
Remember your favorite lessons: If you loved it, remember it, and save it in a special board to revisit later with younger children or share with homeschool friends.
Create seasonal boards: Highlight ideas for winter, spring, summer, or fall, and go back to reference them when the time is right.
Create themed weeks: Follow and share calendars on Pinterest to create and participate in themed weeks with other homeschoolers.


Pinterest isn't just a great tool for teaching parents; it's perfect for students as well. See how students can take on Pinterest assignments.

Showcase outstanding work: If your child has done some particularly impressive schoolwork, pin it to a special board to let them know you really appreciate their effort and hard work.
Create collages: As a kid, you probably made collages from magazine pages and mod podged them to a poster board, but your kids can create collages on Pinterest instead.
Lapbooks: Kids can create lapbooks on Pinterest, collecting great resources on a single subject to supplement their curriculum.
A lesson in pinning: Have students use Pinterest to collect and pin items that all have certain criteria in common.
Create photo journals from family vacations: Enjoy your vacation, and when you get back, give the kids an assignment to pin photos that best tell the story of your adventure.
Create a virtual field trip: Even if you can't travel to the Smithsonian, you can go to their website and pin your favorite exhibits and collections as a virtual field trip.
Put together creative writing vision boards: For kids who are working on creative writing assignments, they can put together themes and vision boards on Pinterest.
Family challenges: Lots of Pinterest users gather, gather, and gather some more, but never actually put all of the great ideas they've found to work. You can make it a homeschool challenge for each child (and you) to take on at least one great idea from Pinterest each week.
Save your sanity on a rainy day: If you can't make it outside, but the natives are getting restless, turn to your pins for fun and educational ideas, or quickly browse to find new ideas to put to work right away.
Turn kids into curators: Pinterest is so easy, even younger kids can use it. Help students create Pinterest boards for their favorite things, like animals or even paper dolls.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

World Class Education

A World-Class Education: Learning from International Models of Excellence and Innovation

Monday, February 6, 2012

37 Ways Teachers Should Use Pinterest

Check my Pinterest ~ Click here to view.

(Cross posted from

There are a lot of great technology tools out there for teachers that can make it easier to connect with other educators, get ideas for classroom activities, and find inspiration. One of the newest and best of these online tools is Pinterest, which has quickly become a favorite among educators. Using online “pinboards” teachers can save everything from photos to blog posts in one easily accessible and usable place.

Educators who are curious about Pinterest should sign up for an invitation today (it’s still invite only, but it doesn’t take long to get an invitation) and start creating their own amazing collections of pins. Not sure where to start? Check out some of these great ideas on how teachers can use Pinterest.

Pinterest is ideal for getting inspired on a wide range of topics.
Get inspiration for decorating your classroom. Looking to liven up your classroom? There are tons of photos of great classroom setups, from kindergartens to high school that you can use for inspiration.
Organize your ideas. Do you find yourself jotting down ideas or bookmarking websites and then forgetting about them? Pinterest can help you keep these ideas organized and easy-to-find when you need them.
Get ideas for an inspired bulletin board. A great bulletin board display can make kids excited to learn and proud to see their accomplishments on the wall. You’ll find some amazing ideas for creating your own when you browse Pinterest.
Follow interesting boards. Found a treasure trove of resources? Follow that board! That way anytime things are posted to it you’ll see it immediately in your own feed.
Get fun ideas for new projects. Whether you’re looking for holiday fun for students or something to relate to your lessons, you’ll find some really amazing ideas when you look through educational pins on the site.
Learn how to get crafty. Pinterest is full of great craft ideas, both for you and the students. Pin a few to have fun with later on.
Look for ways to organize your classroom. Classroom lacking organization? Search through pins for some great, often very creative, ways to keep your class neat and tidy.

You’ll find a wealth of lessons and ideas on Pinterest to look through.
Swap lesson plans. Pinterest is full of lesson plans that you can use and adapt to your own needs. You can also show off your own great ideas by pinning photos and blog posts on your own.
Locate amazing images for your lessons. Pinterest is a very visual resource, which is what makes it such a great place to look when you’re trying to find images for a lesson or a lecture. There are tons of material that is historical, contemporary, art historical, or just plain interesting to look through.
Have students pin project ideas. Pinterest can also be a great place to get students working. Teachers could have students pin ideas on a board that relate to a particular project they’ll be working on.
Use pinning as part of a lesson. Of course, pinning itself could also be an educational experience. Students could have to pin items that fit a certain set of criteria as part of a lesson.
Collect ideas for virtual field trips. Let your kids travel the world through the web when you find creative online field trips on Pinterest, or build your own through great images.
Make group work visual. Whether you’re working with your colleagues or helping students to work on a group project, Pinterest can be a great place to collaborate. Share images for presentations or links to papers, resources, and research.
Have students photo journal on Pinterest. There are numerous ways students can use Pinterest to journal. How about a series of photos captioned in a foreign language? Or documenting a trip they took? The possibilities are endless.
Find loads of printables. If you’re in the market for some printable games and lessons for your students, you’ll find tons of great stuff on Pinterest.
Pump up your science lessons with amazing experiments. Search through the pins on the site for some ideas that can help bring science to life for your students.
Get ideas on how to make learning more hands-on. There are pages and pages worth of pins all about hands-on projects for students. Take advantage of some to make your lessons more interesting and memorable for your students.
Find great books to use in the classroom. It can be tough to choose books for young readers that are both fresh and age appropriate. Luckily, you’ll find some help on that when you look through Pinterest.
Look for grade-specific materials. Need to search by grade? You can do that, too! If you find boards you like, make sure to follow them.

Develop your teaching skills and connect with other professionals using these Pinterest ideas.
Collaborate with other teachers and educators. Through Pinterest, teachers can create collaborative boards. This makes it simple to work together on projects, build better lessons, or just connect over shared ideas.
Start a conversation. Inspired by a lesson plan or image posted by another educator? Tell them! You can comment on their pins, offering you a chance to learn more and connect.
Share what you’re doing in the classroom. While it’s great to sit back and take in all the images other people have shared, you shouldn’t be afraid to share your own as well. Pin your favorite classroom projects so that other teachers and students can make use of them as well.
Find out about great reads. Whether you’re looking to be inspired or find non-fiction reads about managing your classroom, look to pins from teachers on Pinterest for some recommendations.
Get links to great tech resources. Pinterest is a great place to find out about new tech resources for teachers, including places to print off materials, track your students, or get free educational videos, among other things!
Look for new and innovative teaching methods. Don’t get stuck in the past! Learn about new ways to connect with and manage your students from blog posts linked to on Pinterest.
Find out about awesome new educational products. You can pin pictures of the latest and greatest in educational products, though some may be dream purchases.
Promote your own work or blog. Show off your teaching skills and creativity on Pinterest. You can use it to promote your blog, photos, or anything else you think is worth sharing.
Learn how to help with behavior management. You can find pins and talk with other educators for new ideas on how to handle your students, from rewarding them for doing well to handling a disruptive kid.
Find amazing teaching blogs to read. If you’re looking for more reading material, you’ll find it on Pinterest. There are loads of teacher blogs and educational posts pinned that you can look through.
Develop as a teacher. You might not have thought about using Pinterest as a personal development tool, but it works for that as well. Find ideas that can help you push your teaching to the next level.
Find other teachers. Seek out other teachers on Pinterest so that you can share ideas. You can find your coworkers or strangers and start following each other.
Stay on top of trends. It can be hard to keep up with the latest trends in education and well, everything else. Check out the latest pins on Pinterest for an update.
Find tutorials. Not sure how to take on a project or tackle a new technology? You can use Pinterest to find helpful tutorials that’ll make it a snap.

Pinterest doesn’t have to be all business. There are fun ways to use it, too!
Find inspiration. Being a teacher can be pretty hard work and sometimes you might need a little pick-me-up. You’ll find tons of inspirational quotes and photos that will help you get through even the hardest day.
Create dream classrooms. There are some truly beautiful classrooms posted on Pinterest. Collect your favorite ideas and build a board that represents your ultimate dream classroom.
Laugh after a long day. One of the best ways you can use Pinterest for fun is to create a board dedicated to things that make you smile. Pin cute pictures, comic strips, and funny images for an instant pick-me-up.
Have fun! Pinterest is one of the most fun sites out there to just browse through and enjoy, so don’t just use it for work!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

20 Innovative Ways High Schools Are Using Twitter

(cross posted from

Plenty of colleges are getting tuned in to all of the great things you can do with Twitter, but unfortunately, many high schools are still held back by restrictive social media policies. However, the lucky few who are able to take advantage of Twitter are already doing amazing things. Chatting with students in Pakistan, reporting high school football on the fly, and supplementing classroom discussion are just a few of the great ways high schools have made use of Twitter. Read on, and we’ll explore 20 innovative ways high schools are making use of this great social media tool.

Vocabulary and grammar building

In foreign language classrooms (and beyond) students learn about verbs with the help of Twitter. Through the service, students tweet verbs, their definitions, morphology, and grammatical functions, and as the tweets come in, teachers and peers fix or give hints on incorrect entries. Teachers can see how and where students make mistakes, and have them immediately corrected, while students can understand how they’re making mistakes before getting too far, offering immediate formative assessment.

Parent communication
So many school districts are using both Twitter and Facebook to reach out to plugged-in parents without having to send home notes in kids’ backpacks. Lunch menus, school board meetings, and even discussions about school district decisions are being shared online. Proponents of school districts on Twitter support this move, pointing out that districts can get instant feedback, and parents can conveniently share their insights. In one Portland public school, after sending out information about swine flu and recommending that students wash their hands frequently, community members pointed out that there are unreliable faucets, and the school was able to respond with maintenance workers.

Back channel discussion tool

High school students can sometimes be quite introverted and shy in the classroom, but outspoken online. Additionally, some high school classes move through discussions quickly, and not all students find the opportunity to speak up in class. Both of these issues are addressed as high school classes encourage a Twitter backchannel discussion, in which quiet, shy, and unable-to-get-a-word-in-edgewise students are able to speak up in class without actually speaking up in class, sharing their comments, insights, and even relevant links through Twitter as the discussion goes on. Educators have found that Twitter backchannel discussions provide for more interaction not just in the classroom, but beyond, as students often enjoy further carrying on the conversation even after class time is over.

Professional development
Twitter makes the education world smaller, connecting principals, teachers, and other education professionals across the U.S. and even around the globe. Principal Sheninger at New Milford High School in New Jersey started using Twitter to keep in touch with parents, but found its real value in reaching out to other educators and collaborating with them. He is able to use the tool to find new ideas, new resources, and ideas for professional development.

Reaching out to political candidates
Wise politicians know that listening to the people is their most important job, and as such, so many have jumped on the Twitter bandwagon to connect with constituents and voters, particularly during campaign season. One 11th-grade social studies class in Canada is using a Twitter classroom to reach out to candidates in local elections, allowing students to become more informed and feel more involved in the political process. The students send out questions to the candidates, and often, get responses right back.

Creating imaginative dialogues
Illinois high school English teacher Tracee Orman uses Twitter to enrich the learning experience of Hunger Games, asking students to tweet as if they were a character from a chapter in the book. This is a fun way to engage students in the content that they’re studying, and a great practice in learning empathy and understanding of characters.

Review and understanding
At Iowa’s Valley High School, Sarah Bird’s DigiTools class uses Twitter as a tool for reviewing material. After each discussion Bird asks her students to twitter their MVP (Most Valuable Point) using their classroom hashtag. This quick exercise allows students to further digest and understand the material at hand, while at the same time creating a great resource for future review.

Upgrading under appreciated school newspapers
In some schools, high school newspapers just aren’t getting the attention they used to, as students are often glued to phones, tablets, and laptops much more regularly than anything representing real paper. Some school newspapers are now using Twitter as a way to aggregate news information, tweet stories as they happen, and interact with their audience through questions and polls. Freedom High student journalists in Pennsylvania’s Bethlehem Township often live-tweet updates about football games right from the stands, sharing news for those who can’t make it to the game

Worldwide connections
Adam Taylor’s class at Nashville’s Overton High School connects with students half a world away in Pakistan, and they’re quite enthusiastic about it. The two classes discuss student voices in school, cultural stereotypes, and more, learning what life is like outside of their own classroom and culture. Taylor’s idea has been quite popular, and is even such a great draw that students are willing to come in early to school for the discussions.

Volunteer opportunities
One nonprofit group, Jersey Cares, targets tweets to find volunteers to fill their recruitment needs, and has found that many high schoolers answer the call. High school groups use Twitter to locate projects in their area where they can help out, since so many nonprofits are speaking out and asking for help on the social media service.

Concise writing exercises
English teachers often need to teach the importance of brevity in writing, and Twitter is such a great tool for that, with its 140 character limit per tweet. Through the service, teachers assign tweets as a way to encourage understanding and efficient use of language.

Twitter quizzes
In California, Half Moon Bay High School history students can actually have fun with their quizzes, which take place on Twitter. Teacher Mike Putnam uses the social media service to ask fun questions that students answer, such as, “Who would you rather have dinner with? Adams, Jefferson, or Washington?”

Word tracking
As classrooms focus on a particular unit or subject, Twitter offers a great opportunity for staying up to date with learning beyond textbooks. Through Twitter, high school classrooms are tracking words, in which they subscribe to all tweets that include a particular words or phrase, like “Pearl Harbor,” or “woodworking,” returning results with insights, new developments, and more. This exercise is great for allowing students to follow current events and learn about resources they might not otherwise find.

Inspiration and thought provoking question
Minneapolis English teacher Candace Boerema doesn’t use Twitter for assignments, but she does keep up the educational chatter, and encourages her students to interact with Twitter. With questions like, “Who are you in Elizabethan England?” and “Is chivalry dead?,” Boerema sparks offline discussion and interaction among her students that’s reported to be inspiring and great for keeping students connected even when they’re not in class.

Whether it’s for sending the glee club off to regionals or shoes to South America, high schools always seem to have a need for fundraising, and they can use all the help they can get. Some schools have turned to Twitter and Facebook to get the word out, going social, and hopefully viral, in their efforts. Aided by online fundraising platforms and online payment tools, they’re able to do virtual fundraising to complement and even replace traditional car washes and bake sales.

Connecting with experts
Everyone is on Twitter these days, from celebrities to the President, and some high school classrooms are smart enough to take advantage of that. In Madison County, Ala., students use Twitter to interact with historians around the world. They put together questions to ask historians on Twitter, getting answers that may not be easy to find in their history books. This sort of interaction is great for learning from experts, and teaches students the value of research beyond traditional sources.

Planning careers
Another great way high school students are using Twitter connections is in preparing for their careers. Students can talk to professionals who are currently working in the paths they’re thinking about following in their future careers. Some teachers have set up assignments that have students create Twitter lists in which they can follow accounts that are relevant to their career goals.

Twitter scavenger hunts
Some teachers are helping students improve their research skills by assigning Internet scavenger hunts and only allowing students to use Twitter to find their sources. Students often find this a fun challenge, and a great way to research ideas and movements through Twitter searches.

Real-time source evaluation
Using Twitter, students are able to tweet sources and ask their teacher, fellow classmates, and others that they engage with on Twitter whether it seems to be a credible source or not. This is a great way to teach about the use of online resources and learning about which sources are reliable, and which shouldn’t be trusted.

Foreign language learning
Students in foreign language classes are able to use Twitter discussion around the world to learn about foreign languages. They create lists that allow them to follow foreign language news resources, key Twitter personalities, and more. Students are even able to follow foreign language Twitter pen pals that they can interact with.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

12 Education Tech Trends to Watch in 2012

12 Education Tech Trends to Watch in 2012
Cross-posted from
12 areas where we believe we’ll see significant adoption and innovation in the coming months.
MOBILE PHONES: Mobile learning is hardly a new trend, but we have now reached the point with near ubiquitous cellphone ownership among adults, and growing ownership among children. More than three-quarters of teens own a cellphone, and about 40% own a smartphone. As such, these mobile devices will help unlock some of the promise of “anytime, anywhere” learning opportunities.

BYOD (BRING YOUR OWN DEVICE): A related trend to mobile learning. More schools will grapple with their policies surrounding students bringing their own devices to school. They do so already, of course, although cellphones in particular are often required to be turned off or stowed in backpacks or lockers. It isn’t just cellphones that are brought from home now either. There are iPod Touches, tablets, laptops, e-readers, and netbooks, and schools will weigh whether or not students will be permitted or even encouraged to bring their own devices to school.

BANDWIDTH ISSUES: The FCC has made broadband access the focus of some of its efforts over the last few years, arguing for its importance to the U.S. economy and education. It’s pushing for better access across the board, but also recognizing the importance of high-speed Internet specifically at schools and libraries. Even those schools with broadband access may find their resources strained in coming months — with the increasing number of mobile devices brought to schools, tapping into the local network as well as with growing demands for streaming video content.

NATURAL USER INTERFACES: The last few year have brought about a number of important innovations in the ways in which we interact and interface with technology: motion-sensing as with the Microsoft Kinect, the touchscreen of the iPhone, the voice-activation of Siri. Just as the graphical user interface, the GUI, opened computer technologies to new populations (specifically non-programmers), these natural user interfaces will likely push those things further forward, increasing accessibility.

WEB APPS (HTML5): Despite the popularity of Apple devices — among consumers and in the classroom — an emphasis or reliance on native (iOS or Mac) apps excludes a lot of people. The demands for tools that can be used at home and at school, regardless of device, will lead to more Web-based education applications. Thanks to HTML5 technology, Flash, which is still used by a lot of educational content providers, will no longer be as ubiquitous.

DATA: “Data-driven” has been a buzz phrase in education for a number of years now, but much of the emphasis has been on standardized testing. With more “data exhaust” from our usage of technology and the Web, there’s a trove of information we aren’t really fully tracking when it comes to teaching and learning. 2012 will likely bring about a search for new analytical tools to account for just this (many sidestepping the question of whether or not teaching and learning can be quantified and analyzed this way).

ADAPTIVE LEARNING: Adaptive learning companies had an interesting year: Knewton and Grockit raised substantial investment, for example, while Carnegie Learning found itself critiqued in a New York Times story. With the promise of personalized learning — that is, instruction and quizzes aimed at a student’s specific needs and skills — adaptive learning is poised for widespread adoption, both at the K-12 and higher ed levels.

PRIVACY/SECURITY: There was an increasing realization in 2011 that many of the pieces of legislation that govern children and students’ online interactions are woefully out of date. As such, there will be increased scrutiny in 2012 to COPPA (the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act), CIPA (the Children’s Internet Protection Act), and FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act). Whether or not the government’s legislation and kids’ usage actually match up will be another thing entirely. Another major trend of the year, particularly in light of an increasing importance of data: user (student) control of their own educational data — that means both privacy protections and data portability.

OPEN LICENSING: “Open” may well be one of the big marketing terms we’ll hear in the coming months, and it’ll take some scrutiny to really evaluate what many companies mean when they adopt the label. That said, openly licensed content and openly licensed code is likely to be one of the most important trends in 2012: open source technology, open source textbooks, open educational resources, and open data.

PEER TO PEER: “Social learning” has gained a lot of attention in recent years as new technologies have offered ways for students to communicate and collaborate — whether they’re side-by-side in the classroom or thousands of miles away. The ability for learners to connect with one another will be one of the most important trends of the coming year. This isn’t just a matter of connecting learners with online resources or with online instruction. Rather, one of the big opportunities will be to create a space in which learners can help and teach each other.

THE MAKER MOVEMENT: The Maker Movement — encouraging people to make things by hand — may be one of the most important keys to improving STEM education in this country. That’s because it works outside the realm of standardized testing and all the associated hand-wringing. The movement, which includes efforts like Maker Faire and MAKE Magazine, may be the key to helping new demographics (or at the very least, “kids”) discover science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in an exciting and hands-on way. Building and tinkering and playing all offer powerful ways to learn and experiment. We need more of this — lots more.

GAMING: Game-based learning has been on the cusp of being “the next big thing” for a while now। Perhaps 2012 will be the year. With the flourishing of mobile technologies, with the promise of data and analytics, and with a realization that we can create new and engaging ways to move through lessons, we are likely to see an explosion of educational gaming apps this year. The big question, of course — with this as with every new ed-tech development: does this actually improve learning? When is a educational game fun? What makes it engaging? What makes it actually educational?
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