I Want to Be the Kind of Teacher

I have failed as a teacher many times, mostly in small ways, but there have been epic ones as well.  I think so many of us have had them.  Yet, what we do with our failures is also what defines us and today, after two weeks of rotations that simply were not working, I was reminded again of what kind of teacher I want to be.

I want to be the kind of teacher that doesn’t give up.  The kind that finds a new solution even when it seems like I could just stay on a path because it would be so much easier.  That knows when to hold them, when to fold them, and yes, even when to walk away.

I want to be the kind of teacher that keeps the students in mind at every moment and with every decision I make, even the ones where my own…

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25 Teaching Tools to Organize, Innovate and Manage your Classroom


25 Teaching Tools For The Digital Classroom: Tools To Organize, Innovate, & Manage What You Do

by Mike Acedo

Over the years, many of us have personally experienced the growth of technology in today’s classrooms. Instead of taking notes, students are now occupied by surfing the Internet, scrolling through Facebook, and messaging their friends on their smart phones, tablets, and laptops. Instead of focusing on the instruction, teachers are constantly required to interrupt class in order to remind those students again and again, that class time is for learning, not texting. However, as today’s students are using more technological devices, it is imperative that teachers have access to the resources to keep pace with the growing tech culture.

The use of smart phones, tablets, and other tech items in the classroom do not necessarily have to have a negative impact on student achievement. On the contrary, the increasing accessibility and growth of technology presents teachers with the unique opportunity to take advantage of those once distracting gadgets, and use them to facilitate academic achievement in new and innovative ways. In this capacity, teachers do not need to be constantly fighting for student attention, but can freely accept it, by introducing a new educational environment that will automatically encourage student participation.

Below are some resources that teachers may find useful when attempting to implement technology into their classrooms, separated by 5 common areas that are increasingly important for teachers, and for an effective learning environment—Organization, Project Based Learning, Class Management, Presentations, and Assessment.



This innovative platform provides teachers with an all-in-one grade book that offers attendance charts, grade books, calendars, seating charts, behavior tracking, and more. It also gives teachers access to 3rd party lesson content, the ability to create custom tests aligned with common core standards, and a way to track individual student progress.


On this site, teachers can find multiple resources that will help them stay organized in their classrooms. Once registered to the site, teachers have access to lesson plan templates, to-do lists, sub plans, project ideas, and much more.


My Big Campus gives teachers, students, parents, and administrators unprecedented access to an endless amount of useful resources to raise student achievement. Through an interactive platform that can be accessed though mobile devices and tablets, My Big Campus makes it easy to engage with students, develop lessons, track student improvement, as well as connect with parents and other members of the learning community.


My School Binder gives teachers the opportunity to easily add, edit and organize assignments on their class page. Students in turn, can submit completed assignments, ask questions, and receive instant feedback from their teachers. Additionally, students and teachers can view events and assignments on the Schoolbinder Calendar, and be reminded of upcoming due dates with custom notifications. Teachers also have access to teacher forums where they can receive feedback and tips for lessons and projects directly from other educators.


Learn Boost helps teachers record, organize and sort individual student progress. It also allows teachers to develop and organize lesson plans, share student progress with parents and students, and can also be integrated with Google Apps, making it a convenient time saver.

Project-Based Learning

Glogster EDU

Glogster EDU is a global education platform that empowers students and educators to create interactive online posters that include text, photos, videos, graphics, sounds, and much more. Glogster encourages students to take control of their own learning in a fun way by promoting independent thought, creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving. Glogster also provides teachers with strategies to implement curriculum into projects, promote skill mastery, facilitate digital literacy, and encourage innovation and collaboration.


Mindmeister is a great mind-mapping tool that can help students develop and organize project ideas. This free app encourages collaborative brainstorming, where students can wok together to plan and analyze potential projects.


SonicPics is a great app that allows students to combine pictures with recorded narration into a threaded story. There are multiple uses for this app, as students can share personal narratives, review curriculum, or create custom presentations for class.


Through Dipity, students can combine images, photos, text and other media into a visually stimulating, interactive timeline. This is a great tool for students to creatively map out past or current events, add desired media or effects, and present them in a seamless, fun slideshow.


MyHistro allows students to create interactive timelines by combining blogging, media, and Google maps to tell personal stories. Students can create personalized maps that tell about ones family, ancestors, special memories, or other aspects of their history and future. This can be presented in a slideshow and can be a great way to get students to creatively tell their own life stories or focus on historical events.

Classroom Management


This is a great tool for supporting teacher’s in-class instruction or helping their flipped classrooms be successful. This free online platform allows teachers to quickly launch a personalized learning site that addresses student concerns outside of the classroom, leaving students more prepared for in-class activities. Collaborize Classroom encourages students to help each other through problems with the guidance of their instructors, and provides teachers with instant access to lesson plans and project ideas to implement into the classroom. Additionally, this platform gives teachers the ability to better identify and accommodate different learning styles by incorporating visual and audio into their lessons, and grouping students according to learning habits.


This social, Facebook-styled platform, allows teachers to continue classroom discussions outside of the classroom, check for student understanding, and get students excited about coming to class to learn. Teachers can connect students to resources and tools that will help them better understand classroom material, personally measure student progress, and enhance learning though integrating apps that amplify their lesson plans.


Socrative is a great way for teachers to engage their students inside and outside of the classroom, as they can send out quizzes or other educational exercises that can be used to measure student understanding. Teachers can also take advantage of Socrative’s “Exit Tickets” which require students to answer a quick question before they leave the class that focuses on how comfortable they are in understanding the day’s material. This gauges student understanding of subject matter and informs teachers on what is working and what needs to be focused on.


Remind101 is a simple, safe, and secure way for teachers to send mass text messages to students and parents without invading their privacy. Teachers can use this to send reminders and notification to students concerning upcoming tests, homework assignments, due dates, and events which students and parents will receive through text message or email. Teachers can schedule messages to be sent in advanced, which keeps students up to date with schoolwork and helps prevent forgetfulness.


ClassDojo is a tool for teachers to quickly and easily improve classroom behavior. Teachers are able to reward points to students for good behavior, which they receive in real-time on their smart phones or laptops. This engages students in a new way, and incentivizes good student behavior. Additionally, ClassDojo can track student behavior, producing analytical reports, which can be shared with parents and administrators.



Brickflow is an app where teachers and students can create presentations using content collected from social media. By searching the web through hashtags, teachers and students have the opportunity create a visual summary of a topic, building stories with content from Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, etc. This can be a fun and innovative way to spruce up classroom presentations and keep students up to date with current events.


Empressr is an easy to use presentation generator that allows users to easily incorporate flash and other media into their presentations. This is a free online application that can be used to help teachers and students create visually rich presentations.


Present.me is a great tool for teachers and students that allow them to record presentations, lectures, or projects, and accompany them with visual content. This is a useful tool for teachers who wish to flip their classroom, and a fun way to encourage students to get involved in their own learning by creating their own visually rich presentations.


Projeqt gives students and teachers the opportunity to express creativity and learning through a simple, intuitive presentation platform. Students and teachers may combine information they find online with content they have created themselves, creating a dynamic presentation that can include live blog feeds, tweets, interactive maps, quizzes and much more. Users can access presentations from anywhere at anytime, and receive instant feedback from peers or teachers. This is a great tool for creating a social, interactive learning environment in the classroom.


Prezi is a fantastic tool for changing the way teachers and students present, moving away from the standard slide-by-slide model, and using a visually stimulating canvas that moves from point to point. Prezi is simple to use, visually stunning, and includes all the standard components of a normal presentation. The variations of presentations are endless, encouraging students and teachers to creatively customize each presentation to enhance how the audience members receive the information.



This is a great tool for creating custom polls, surveys, and quizzes that can be instantly shared through social media, or posted to teacher websites or blogs.


Through ClassMaker, teachers can create secure online quizzes and exams that feature multiple question types, such as multiple choice, short answer, and essay. Tests are automatically graded and are perfect for classrooms, online courses, E-learning, and study groups.


This free test generator offers multiple question types, automatic grading, detailed reports, and a simple design. Additionally, tests are pass code protected, but it does not require students to register to take the tests.


Mentimeter enables teachers to send out questions to students and allow them to instantly vote on them or send feedback though mobile phones or tablets. This is a great way to democratize the classroom by voting on topics or activities, and a very effective tool for issuing pop quizzes.


Teachers can create and share tests with not only students, but with other teachers as well. This gives teachers multiple test resources and also promotes student understanding, as it randomizes test questions and answers, allowing students to take tests multiple times without making the material stagnant.

Retrieved from: http://www.teachthought.com/technology/25-teaching-tools-to-organize-innovate-manage-your-classroom/

Powerful Letter to Teachers

Newtown Commemorates One Month Anniversary Of Elementary School MassacreAs educators, it’s our sworn obligation to comfort, educate, and protect young minds. As the new school year began, we never forget the awful tragedy that happened in Sandy Hook Elementary school.

This mother wrote a powerful letter addressing all teachers. Her letter, which was posted on the Education Week website is powerful, and gut-wrenching, and encouraging all in one. Read it after the jump.

As another school year begins and old routines settle back into place, I wanted to share my story in honor of the teachers everywhere who care for our children.

I lost my 6-year-old daughter Ana Grace on Dec. 14, 2012, in the rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School. My son, who was in the building and heard the shooting, survived.Newtown Commemorates One Month Anniversary Of Elementary School Massacre

While waiting in the firehouse that day to hear the official news that our daughter was dead, my husband and I made promises to ourselves, to each other, and to our son. We promised to face the future with courage, faith, and love.

As teachers and school employees begin this new year, my wish for you is that same courage, faith, and love.

It takes guts to be a teacher. Six brave women gave their lives trying to protect their students at Sandy Hook. Other teachers were forced to run from the building, stepping over the bodies of their friends and colleagues, and they came right back to work.

When I asked my son’s teacher why she returned, she responded, “Because they are my kids. And my students need me now more than ever.” She sent daily updates on my son’s progress, from his behavior to what he’d eaten for lunch. And four months later, when my son finally smiled one day after school, I asked him about it. His response? “Mom. My teacher is so funny. I had an epic day.”

While I pray you will never find yourself in the position of the teachers at Sandy Hook, your courage will support students like my son, who have lived through traumas no child should have to.

Your courage will support students who are left out and overlooked, like the isolated young man who killed my daughter. At some point he was a young, impressionable student, often sitting all alone at school. You will have kids facing long odds for whom your smile, your encouraging word, and your willingness to go the extra mile will provide the comfort and security they need to try again tomorrow.

When you Google “hero,” there should be a picture of a principal, a school lunch worker, a custodian, a reading specialist, a teacher, or a bus monitor. Real heroes don’t wear capes. They work in America’s schools.

Being courageous requires faith. It took faith to go back to work at Sandy Hook after the shooting. Nobody had the answers or knew what would come tomorrow, but they just kept going. Every opportunity you have to create welcoming environments in our schools where parents and students feel connected counts.

Have faith that your hard work is having a profound impact on your students. Of the 15,000 personal letters I received after the shooting, only one stays at my bedside. It’s from my high school English teacher, Robert Buckley.

But you can’t be courageous or step out on faith without a deep love for what you do.

Parents are sending their precious children to you this fall. Some will come fully prepared, and others not. They will come fed and with empty bellies. They will come from intact homes and fractured ones. Love them all.

When my son returned to school in January, I thought I was going to lose my mind. Imagine the difficulty in sending your surviving child into a classroom when you lost your baby in a school shooting. We sent him because we didn’t want him to be afraid.

 We sent him because we wanted him to understand that while our lives would never be the same, our lives still needed to move forward.

According to the 2011-12 National Survey of Children’s Health, nearly half of America’s children will have suffered at least one childhood trauma before the age of 18. They need your love.

A few weeks before the shooting, Ana Grace and I shared a special morning. Lunches were packed and clothes were picked out the night before, so we had extra time to snuggle. And while I lay in bed with my beautiful caramel princess, she sensed that I was distracted and asked, “What’s the matter, Mom?” I remember saying to her, “Nothing, baby. It’s just work.” She looked at me for a very long time with a thoughtful stare, then she told me, “Don’t let them suck your fun circuits dry, Mom.”

As you begin this school year, remember Ana Grace. Walk with courage, with faith, and with love. And don’t let them suck your fun circuits dry.


Having fun Outside – in the Dark

15-Ways--DarkWhen we were younger, we loved playing outside! In today’s society, we should still love to play outside even if the sun did go down! Here are 15 ways in which you have a thrilling time at night!
  1. Flashlights are fun! Give the kids flashlights and take a look around. Much fun can be had by simply exploring with a flashlight. What looks different at night?
  2. Flashlight tag. Tag players using the beam of light, or simply play tag with flashlights to guide the way.
  3. Flashlight limbo. How low can you go? Two people, holding flashlights, face each other and make a steady beam of light for others to limbo under.
  4. Catch the light. Shine the light around and allow your child / children to “chase” the light as it shines on an object or surface. As they’re about to “catch it” simply move it again!
  5. Catching shadows. You can have a lot of fun just by simply chasing your shadow. If you have a porch light that shines out towards your backyard, you’re set for chasing your shadow!
  6. Shadow puppets. Shine a light onto the side of your house or fence to set the stage for an evening of puppet shows.
  7. Catch lightening bugs.
  8. Put a spin on some classic games. How much fun is “Red Light, Green Light” or “Duck, Duck, Goose” in the dark? Lots, actually.
  9. Glow in the dark dancing. Put on shows for one another, or simply rock out with glow sticks.
  10. Hide and seek with glow sticks. One person hides a glow stick and then all of the others try to find it. The person that finds it first gets to hide it again.
  11. Hunt for glow sticks. Hide a bunch of glow sticks all throughout the yard and let the kids hunt for them.
  12. Flashlight hunt. One player hides an object, like a rubber duck, and the others try to find it using their flashlights.
  13. Build a campfire. Listen to music. Play cards. Cuddle. Make s’mores.
  14. Tell spooky stories. But maybe not too spooky.
  15. Tell stories with constellations. Show your children a few constellations and then ask them if they can find any pictures in the stars. Ask them to tell you more about the object they see. Can they make up a story about it? Can you?

Thanks for these awesome tips Joyce from Childhood Beckons!


Competition: Microsoft vs. Apple

Comparing iPad to Surface RT and Surface Pro

Surface vs IpadWhich tablet is better for me?


While researching, I came across this video… Microsoft commercial – it’s really quite funny.  I currently now own both Surface RT and an iPad 2 (Second generation). I decided to do some research amongst the two tablets but since my iPad is only the second generation well… I thought it’d be better to do a comparison for the iPad 4th Gen instead.

I know there are many other tablets out there, but I’ll keep this post as Microsoft vs. Apple tablets. Below is a comparison of basic models of the iPad 32 GB 4th gen to the Surface RT 32 GB and Surface Pro 64 GB models. All entries in orange are common tech specs that can be found anywhere.  All entries in green are ones that are productivity related and not mentioned as often but are probably the most important aspects from a practical usability standpoint:

  Surface RT Surface Pro iPad
Purpose Tablet Laptop in tablet form Tablet
Operating System Windows 8 RT Windows 8 iOS 6
CPU Quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 3rd Gen Intel® dual-core TM i5 (2.6 GHz)  A6X chip, dual-core (1.4GHz)
Weight (in lbs) 1.5 2.0 1.44
Battery Life 8 hours 5 hours 10 hours
Display size 10.6” 10.6” 9.7”
Storage 32GB, 64B – expandable 64GB, 128GB – expandable 16, 32, 64, 128GB
USB Port Yes – 2.0 Yes – 3.0 No
HD Video-Out Port Yes – microHDMI Yes – mini Display No
MicroSD Yes Yes No
Free Cloud Storage 7 GB 7GB 5 GB
Printing Yes – most printers Yes – all printers Yes – only AirPrint printers
MS Office Yes – pre-installed with Office RT Yes – Full No
Multi accounts Yes Yes No
Run two apps at once Yes Yes No
Number of Apps in Store 160,000 Almost any Windows app made in the past 10 years, probably millions. 350,000
Keyboard Attached or Bluetooth at an extra cost Attached or Bluetooth at an extra cost Bluetooth only at an extra cost
Camera Two 720p HD LifeCams Two 720p HD LifeCams two: 1080p  & 720p cameras
Adapters Only cables are needed Only cables are needed Everything must be connected via lightning adapters.
Price $304 for students and $349 for everyone else  $899 $599

The very simple answer that I can give to help you distinguish between the two tablets and which one is better suited for you: “it depends on what you want to use it for”.

For sheer availability of apps, surfing the web, and picture taking, I would say the iPad is the right device for you.

For school work, web surfing, MS Office applications, Xbox games, I would say go with a Surface RT. If for no other reason than for the price break Microsoft is offering students and schools. In addition, the inclusion of Office RT allows many students the ability to open and edit class materials given to them electronically. On the iPad you have to use programs that might cause compatibility issues and on the Surface Pro, you need to purchase Microsoft Office as an extra expense.

And if you need a device that looks and feels like a tablet but does everything a Windows laptop can do, then Surface Pro is the device for you.