Friday, December 23, 2011

December Reader on Gaming in Education

How Gaming Is Changing the Classroom [GOOD] - I've seen some of the ideas discussed here in action as my students have begun using Khan Academy to supplement what we're doing in the classroom.  It's powerful stuff.

If Only My Class Were a Video Game…Game Design for the Classroom [The 21st Century Principal] - Mr. Robinson reflects on Jane McGonigal's book Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World and more.

GOOD Video: Can Learning Be as Fun as Playing Video Games? - Education [GOOD] - An innovator talks about using game mechanics to inspire intrinsic motivation. We need more people who think like this.

Game Creation for Kids With Wario Ware DIY [Wired: GeekDad]

Motion Math: Helping Drive iPad and Education Research [Wired: GeekDad]

BONUS: I also wrote on this topic last year for Educational Games Research: read No Need to Reinvent the Wheel to Revolutionize Educational Video Games.

BONUS #2: Read  Your #Snowpocalypse Reader: Video Games & Education from last December for even more links on this topic!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

There's Never a Time When You Can't Start Over

Today is the last day of the semester for me, which makes this a good time to share some advice to help you reflect and plan for next semester.  Back in October I went to a TFA School Leadership Summit in Houston, and while I was there I was asked to record a brief audio for the organization's Corps Stories oral history project.

I decided to talk about the critical points in the year where everything seems to be going wrong, and some ways you can get things back on track.  I'm certainly thinking about my own advice going into next semester, and I hope you find it helpful as well.  Enjoy:

"There's never a time when you can't start over." | Corps Stories

Monday, December 19, 2011

Giveaway: Get a Copy of My Book To Help You Reflect on the Semester

I feel like this is the best time for teachers who might be struggling or stressed out to read my book Teaching is Not a Four Letter Word: How to Stop Worrying and Love the Job. The brief lessons I share are meant to help you reflect, adapt and survive as I have tried to do over the years.

On top of that, it's the holiday season and one of my main joys in life is to give gifts and give to good causes. Thus I'm giving away two hard copies of the book to any teacher who thinks they might need some help and hope.. If you're interested, simply send me an email saying so ( before Tuesday 12/20/11 at 11:59pm CST. I won't ask you to share your struggles, but if you'd like to, I'm certainly willing to listen.

Due to the timing of the giveaway, I don't think I can get it to you before Christmas, so expect it a few days afterward.  Sorry about that.  It's a short read that you should easily be able to get through before the new semester starts.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Parent Function Poster Idea

Last week we were reviewing parent functions in my math models class.  After introducing and taking notes on different families of functions (linear, quadratic, square root, cubic and absolute value), it was time to dust off an old favorite to help cement it in their minds.

Adjusting the mini-poster idea from Ten Cheap Lessons, I had my students illustrate three parent functions (linear, quadratic and their choice of one other).  Their posters included the graph, equation, domain and range as well as 2 examples of other functions from that family (labelled as "babies," "kids" or simply "examples").  I'm a strong believer in the power of having students illustrate key ideas while creating their own examples to supplement them, and this idea was no different.

Above you can see a completed example.  I sketched something similar for my classes so they could easily see what I was asking for.  Below are directions they were given.

Versions of this mini-poster idea have been invaluable over the years.  Just recently I had my Algebra I students compare and contrast solving equations and solving inequalities.  It's a project that requires a minimum of supplies and preparation on your part: you just need unlined paper (color if possible, but it's not necessary) and markers or colored pencils to draw with.  You can also assign it as homework without worrying too much about whether your students will have what they need to do it (you can always provide some materials to those that do).

This should take students no more than one 45-55 minute class period to complete.  I counted it as a minor assessment (aka quiz) grade, but of course you should do whatever makes sense for you.

Have you used any variation on this theme?  Share it in the comments.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

3 Areas Where Teachers Can Benefit From Advanced Training

There are many specialized degrees and certificates teachers can pursue to improve in the classroom and advance their careers. Organized information on programs helps a teacher choose one that is suitable both for the teacher and her classroom. Many of these courses can be integrated into a Master's Program in teaching or teaching certification programs. Applying continuing education classes toward a degree is a strategy that many students use.

Embrace Technology

student ipad 005 by flickingerbrad, on FlickrInstructional technology is becoming more important to teach students as they prepare for the evolving world outside of school. Many teachers already have integrated various tools in their classroom such as having students gather information through on-line resources. However, there is much to instructional technology beyond this basic use.

Instructional technology means to employ the use of a variety of teaching tools to improve student learning. Instructional technology can describe other things such as: CD players, PDAs, GPS devices, calculators, iPads, cameras, and more. Computers are becoming useful in every aspect of learning from math tutoring to presentation software. Students and teachers can use databases, spreadsheets, presentation, and word processing programs to help them be effective in creating professional-looking reports. These tools are ever evolving as we approach new technologies, so staying up to date on the most current ones is important. All teachers across every discipline and age can benefit from this kind of training. However, K-12 teachers will probably gain the most advantages. Teachers can take webinars, on-line training videos, and in person training sessions. These courses take about 60-90 minutes to complete.

Lesson Strategies and Teaching Methods

The summer months are a good time to brush up on lesson strategies or to try a few new teaching methods. It gives a teacher time to delve into something new and become comfortable with it before the school year begins again. All teachers from K-12 can benefit greatly from this. Learn new themes for the new school year and new topics such as fun and statistics lessons, health resources, baseball math and many more. There are many online courses and resources that teach effective strategies. The time of the courses vary greatly depending on the needs of the teacher and what he would like to learn could vary on the time commitment.

Leadership Training

Create the Future PD Qatar Academy by Julie Lindsay, on FlickrTeachers who want to learn how to become more effective leaders will benefit greatly from training in leadership. Training gives explanations of best practices to help them become better leaders within every aspect of their lives. Teachers are natural classroom leaders, however many teachers have never taken a rigorous leadership development course. Both classroom and e-learning modules are available in order to receive instruction. It is not a lecture format mainly, but is a highly interactive experience in learning the principles. The course takes about 15 hours of time to complete.

Trainings can be used for re-certification and professional development credits for teachers. They can also be customized and built for an individual school in both formats. Many different types of teachers can benefit such as special education, K-12, coaches, librarians and extracurricular activities supervisors. Teachers who take leadership training will be able to build and maintain discipline in the classroom, create more productive relationships with parents, be a mentor to other teachers, and improve time management and communication skills, to list just a sample.

When thinking about a master’s program in teaching or teaching certification programs it is important to weigh all the possibilities. Finding a specialized degree may provide higher job satisfaction or provide the readiness for advancement within a current career.

This is a guest post provided by U.S News University Directory, a leading resource for online teaching degrees; including, instructional technology masters degrees and accredited educational leadership programs from top colleges and universities.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Free Virtual STEM Competition For Your Students

I just heard about a U.S. Army-sponsored STEM competition for middle school students and want to help spread the word: 
Heading into its 10th year, eCYBERMISSION ( is a free, web-based Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics competition for students in grades six through nine. Your students can compete against other students in their graders for state, regional and national awards. Teams consisting of 3-4 students and a team advisor would work to solve problems in their community utilizing the scientific method, scientific inquiry or engineering design process and can win at the state, regional and national levels. To date, more than $8.5 million has been awarded to students throughout the country with more to be awarded in 2012.

Deadline to register: December 16, 2011
Some past winners include:
  • The 6th grade Hardheads team was recognized by judges for their experiments with materials used to support sports helmets. For their project, the students conducted experiments on multiple materials for possible use in sports helmets, with the hope of finding a material that decreases the prevalence of concussions and other head injuries.
  • The 8th grade Landroids team tested the elements necessary to create a device that could detect deer on roads.
  • The 9th grade Chocolate Addiction team investigated how makeup can cause damage to the skin when it has been exposed to certain independent variables, such as heat or water.
  • Other past winners can be found at:
Here's a video with more information about the competition:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Giveaway: The World Almanac And Book of Facts 2012

I have a brand new copy of the The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2012 to give away to a lucky reader! This is the type of comprehensive, well-organized and fun reference that should be in every classroom library. While much of this information is likely available online, it's simply quicker and easier to look a lot of important basic things in the book.

Besides being a great reference for your students, teachers could also use the data to create all sorts of lessons across multiple subjects or grade levels.  So for a chance to win the book, send an email to by Tuesday 11:59pm CST with a (brief) lesson idea using data from The World Almanac.  One lucky reader will receive the book.  Good luck!

Thanks to The Rosen Group for sending a free promotional copy for this contest.

UPDATE 12/10/11: The contest has ended.  The winning entry was from Karen Elofson, a teacher from Massachusetts, who has great plans for using the data in the book:
I think the World Almanac can provide some interesting real life statistics that can be applied to a math exercise in making scatterplots and using box and whisker or best line of fit type activities.  For example, your class could read about the number and nature of dust storms in the Great Plains and make a scatter plot of the number of dust storms that occurred  between the years 1930-present.  This could also be extended as a calculator exercise as well using TI Nspire, for example.
There were also many other great suggestions from the remaining entries:
We use the Time for Kids (TFK) as our weekly current events curriculum, and many times they mention things that students their age (grade 3) are doing.  This would be a great book for the students to make text to text connections, as well as text to self connections.
...this would be a great book to have in the classroom for those few minutes of "downtime" my 5th graders have between completing one assignment and starting on the next. It would be a great resource to have available to the kids to give them a "break" from their library book, or to offer as a "reward" for struggling students who are having a great morning/afternoon/day.
My kids love to read this type book when they finish their other work!

I would like to have them locate on a wall world map the location of the event they discovered. Geography is something they need to know much more about.
Thank you again to everyone who participated.  Stay tuned for more giveaways over the coming weeks!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Weekend Reader on Lego in Education

Students Combine STEM and Storytelling to Power Green LEGO City [GOOD] - Featuring adorable music video by the school's choir.

Our Adventures With Robotics: The Lego Mindstorm Kit [Wired: GeekMom]

Lego’s Life of George Takes Building to the Smartphone [Wired: GeekDad] - This awesome augmented reality app utilizes Legos and smartphones to challenge young kids to use their spatial reasoning skills (among others). Architecture Home - Lego has created a series of detailed, rich models of actual architecture. These sets will give block-loving children a real world connection to STEM (not to mention history).

The LEGO Ideas Book - Great book to inspire older students or those up to a challenge!

BONUS: For more on Legos (among other topics), read August's Weekend Reader on Robotics in Education. I also included Legos on my list of Toys & Games Every Kid Should Play With Growing Up.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Mind Mapping for Teachers, Part 4: Improving Research

This is the final part of a guest series on mind mapping by Hobie Swan, a professional writer from Boise, ID. Mr. Swan is interested in helping teachers find ways to incorporate this strategy into the classroom.

Article 4: Using mind mapping for research
If you have had a chance to read the other articles in this series, you will have noticed that there are a few things that are unique to mind mapping. These include:
  • The ability to easily combine many information types in one document
  • The natural proclivity toward information chunking
  • The ability to get a birds’ eye view of information—and to drill down to details.
Each of these qualities can be a big help when conducting research.

Combining information types
As I said before, mind maps make it easy to combine URLs, images, video, audio, and ideas in one document. The resulting “information object” truly reflects the state of information in the 21st century. For all the advances that have been made in technology, the average research still resembles something created in the middle of the 20th century: pages of type, maybe with an occasional image or graph, the obligatory footnotes, citations, etc. It’s kind of dry—especially for today’s students who live in a very rich media world.

But this isn’t simply a matter of form. The goal is to help students learn. I can remember as a kid having to do a “report” on Mexico. All it really involved was collecting what I recall as almost a foot-tall stack of pamphlets, articles, and tourist brochures. It wasn’t about interacting with the information. It was about seeing how much you could collect.

With mind maps, you can collect a staggering amount of information because you can quickly hide all but the small portion you want to deal with at any given moment. But what is different about mind mapping is that you can hide 99% of this information and concentrate on the 1% you need to focus on at any given moment. Furthermore, the visual nature of the mind map interface enables you to navigate effortlessly from one information point to another, inserting your comments adjacent to each “chunk” of information in the map.

Download the full example lesson via Google Docs.

Final note
I hope that this series of articles has got you thinking about providing your students—and yourself—with a tool that matches the way the human mind prefers to work. Unlike more linear tools, mind mapping allows users to cast their nets widely—to brainstorm and capture all of their thinking on a topic. By supporting the natural movement from divergent to convergent thinking, mind mapping keeps students from getting trapped at the start is overly narrow lines of investigation.

Mind mapping then provides users with a way to rapidly combine into one document many kinds of information—and to add to that pre-existing data their interpretations of and insights about that information. You and your students can build these fantastically complex and complete information objects. Then they can choose to restrict the information view and concentrate on one point at a time.

Finally (and this may seem trivial), mind mapping give students the ability to add creativity to the often tedious process of conducting research. By changing fonts, adding icons (like the lit bomb on the branch about ethnic cleansing), and inserting photos or clip art, students can in a way personalize their information gathering. This simple step of adding visual interest to a body of information adds a personal dimension to what is often a very impersonal process. And it can help student create visual cues that will draw their interest and attention immediately back to key information.

I said this before in this series, but I think it bears repeating: Today’s students swim in a multimedia world the likes of which few teaches experienced at such an early age. By providing students with a tool they can use to recapture some of the “polymorphous perversity” of the modern information landscape, teachers can enliven the education process, making learning more creative, thoughtful and, dare I say it… fun.

Hobart Swan is a professional writer who has worked with mind mapping tools and companies for the past 20 years. To see an example of a book Swan organized using mind mapping, visit Swan has worked for two leading mind mapping companies, CS Odessa, maker of ConceptDraw MINDMAP, and Mindjet, maker of MindManager.

Read the other entries in the series:
Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: The Chunking of Language
Part 3: Improving Student Writing

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mind Mapping for Teachers, Part 3: Improving Student Writing

This is the third part of a week-long series of guest posts on mind mapping by Hobie Swan, a professional writer from Boise, ID. Mr. Swan is interested in helping teachers find ways to incorporate this strategy into the classroom. This part focuses on improving student writing.

Students swim in media-rich waters
One of the keys to good writing is good preparation. But rare is the student who loves to dig into that most important of preparatory documents: the outline. I tend to think of it more as a “pre-writing document.” When most people think of outlines, they imagine line upon line of text. A pre-writing document is something more befitting the resources students have at their disposal these days.

Kids live in a media- and information-soaked culture. To require them to work in a landscape dominated by text may seem to some akin to carving their thoughts on the tusk of a whale. More appropriate--at least for the pre-writing phase--may be to give them the tools to create rich, multimedia aggregations of insights, images, and information. As I will explain, this may require no more than giving them access to a single mind-mapping application.

Start with divergent thinking
Creation of the standard outline may well be a prime cause of the dreaded blank page syndrome. Even the most seasoned writer can falter when faced with the gaping maw of a blank screen. What, the emptiness taunts, is that one very first thing you want to address. It’s too much pressure. Who know what they want to think of first, then second, then third.

A new mind map, while still nearly blank, offers one small, lifeboat-shaped haven. In the center is a small shape into which you can enter a word or two to describe the purpose of the map.

Let’s call this map: Memoir. For this writing assignment, you have asked your students to write something about a memorable event in their lives.

This might still seem intimidating until the student realizes that they don’t have to start a numbered list of their thoughts, with the first one on tope, followed by the second, third, etc.—proceeding in a relentlessly linear way until they reach The End.

Instead, your first suggestion to your students can be for them to think of some memorable event and just start brainstorming: jotting down ideas as they pop up in their brains:

Many students I’ve talked to say that the ability to add images helps make the assignment for fun, more engaging. Being able to just quickly jot down ideas makes the process more open and creative. And that can lead to new insights. See how in the next map the student has begun to interact with his or her idea.

Move on to convergent thinking
Mind mapping is a great way to get students’ minds thinking. By first being able to just think random thoughts, they can feel less constrained. They can let their minds wander as they please in and around the topic at hand.

Usually, this allows a main thesis to emerge—and for less important or unrelated ideas to depart. In this example, seeing all of the ideas on one screen has given the student insight into what exactly he or she is thinking about. In this case, the student seems most interested in the teacher, and how he or she made the year so memorable:
The student has dragged and dropped the branches from his first use of the map, added some new ideas and, in the process, and converged their thoughts on one main idea.

Mind mapping methodology allows room for this kind of divergent-to-convergent thinking that is often missing in student writing.

Now to form an organized whole
Once some ideas have been captured and perhaps an inkling of insight gained, it is time to leave the free thought behind and start creating a logical structure for the ideas and information that will make up the final writing. Some mind mapping products (and again, ConceptDraw is one such product) allow users to see or to export the map contents in more traditional outline form:

If the student so chooses, he or she can simply push a button to export the map as a traditional outline, and continue the writing process:
It is fair to say, though, that once your students (or you yourself) get used to working in this more concise, visual way, they may be more inclined to continue to flesh out their ideas right in the map:

… knowing that at any point they can export what they’ve written as a working outline:

One example among many
I’ve used a creative writing assignment as the topic. Regardless of the topic and hand, mind mapping’s ability to integrate multimedia and interactivity allow students to work much more quickly, intuitively and, I would argue, more creatively.

As I noted in the first article in this series, ConceptDraw MINDMAP enables users to embed hyperlinks, images, multimedia, and graphics into a pre-writing document. Students can browse the Internet, link to research resources, and then combine online information with information from other sources—including their own ideas—to enable them to do the kind of preparation that can lead to more reasoned arguments and less head-scratching on the part of teachers.

And again, mind mapping enables students to work in a very information-rich way, with access to all the many forms that information comes in these days. That includes everything from websites, to images and icons, to YouTube videos and information clipped from Facebook or Twitter. Most important of all, mind mapping is designed to help people collect all of this rich information—and then add to it their own insights, reactions, and observations of that information.

It is in delivering a true 21st century mixture of pre-existing information and new ideas that mind mapping shines.

Read the other entries in the series:
Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: The Chunking of Language
Part 4: Improving Research

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mind Mapping for Teachers, Part 2: Chunking of Language

This is the second part of a week-long series of guest posts on mind mapping by Hobie Swan, a professional writer from Boise, ID. Mr. Swan is interested in helping teachers find ways to incorporate this strategy into the classroom.

As I writer, I can easily bristle at the idea of our trading in the well-crafted sentence for a few well-considered words. If it wasn’t so handy, I’d be a lot more resistant to this practice. But because of the visual nature of a mind map, people tend to use words much more sparingly that they do when writing a document (such as the one you’re reading right now that may seem to be droning on and on). What might otherwise take a paragraph to communicate can be done using just a sentence or phrase--maybe even in one single word--when you mind map.
mind-mapping-for-students-full-5 by jean-louis zimmermann, on Flickr

This makes the information in the map:
  1. More easily understood: Children for whom English is not their native language, with dyslexia, or low literally levels often find it far easier to understand what is being communicated—and more able to interact with the information.
  2. Contexually powerful: Because of the spatial nature of a map, the viewer finds context by seeing where a concept is relative to its neighbors. Communicating without these visual cues means that all meaning must be expressed using words—and we are back to the multi-page document.
  3. Concise: Because the map is built with individual branches made up of a few words and maybe an image or icon, it’s possible to capture up to 10 or so pages of writing in one map. The ability to see all of the information in one view improves the ability to interact with that information. Note: Map branches can be “collapsed” so that the document isn’t cluttered with information you don’t need at any given moment.
  4. Quickly digested: You plow through a written report. You scan a map.
  5. Flexible: I’ll discuss this further in the article about writing. The main point is that by capturing information onto individual branches, the information can be quickly and easily dragged and dropped into similar groups, chronological order, or any other arrangement that best suites the current objective.
The one thing I don’t dare put on a list like this, for fear of trivializing mind mapping, is that the way of capturing, organizing and sharing information is much more fun and engaging than simple “writing a report.”

Today’s students live in a world filled with motion and images. For many of them, nothing could be more boring that having to reduce all of that excitement and action to “a page and a half” of writing. But turn them loose with a mind map, in which they can quickly capture and organize elements of the information sea in which they swim, and you may be surprised at what they come up with.

Read the other entries in the series:
Part 1: Introduction
Part 3: Improving Student Writing
Part 4: Improving Research

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mind Mapping for Teachers, Part 1

This is the first in a week-long series of guest posts on mind mapping by Hobie Swan, a professional writer from Boise, ID.  Mr. Swan is interested in helping teachers find ways to incorporate this strategy into the classroom.

Screen capture of an example "starter" mind map (ConceptDraw MINDMAP software)
In this multi-part series I will describe a few ways to use mind mapping in teaching. I will talk about how teachers can use mind mapping to make their work easier and clearer, and how students can use mind mapping to help them organize thoughts and information.

The three uses I will describe are:
  1. To create multimedia lesson plans.
  2. To help students organize their writing.
  3. To help students conduct research.
Throughout this series, I will be using ConceptDraw MINDMAP from CS Odessa Inc. to create the mind maps used in these articles (The functionality I describe is standard in MINDMAP and in some other products).

A note on the history and development of mind mapping
The “Tree of Love” by Porphyry of Tyros
(3rd Century AD, Greece)
Some say that the practice of mind mapping is as old as the hills. It is, indeed, possible to find quite old examples of what is often referred to as “visual thinking”—the theory behind mind mapping. There has been much evidence to support the main tenet of visual thinking that the mixture of text and images promotes thinking and learning. Much of the rationale for this theory comes from Robert Sperry’s Nobel Prize-winning experiments with people whose two brain hemispheres had become separated.  Sperry’s experiments revealed some of the specialization of the brain, and how by stimulating more than one functional part of the brain, we increase the creative and memory capabilities of the brain.

From these origins grew the highly sophisticated practice known today as mind mapping. This manner of capturing, organizing, and sharing mixtures of information, ideas and images is today used by everyone from English and German school children to 85 of the Global Fortune 100 companies.

Images and observations of early life by
Leonardo da Vinci (15th Century AD, Italy)
Its use in academics has yet to be fully taken advantage of. One barrier continues to be the ability of students and teachers to have unfettered access to computers, computer software, and the Internet. For the purposes of this series, I will assume that you and your students access to all three.

Creating Multi-Media Lesson Plans
A common thread you will see in all of the uses I discuss is a teacher’s ability to combine multiple information type in a single, easily constructed and navigated document. A mind-mapped lesson plan often includes:
  • A thesis statement and accompanying questions
  • Active internet links
  • Images and icons
  • Answers and notes

Download a full example with step-by-step instructions and screen captures via Google Docs.

A Symphony of Meaning
“But what,” you might ask, “are the advantages or creating a lesson plan this way? It seems like it would be easier to do this as a word document?”

One of the results of Sperry’s research was that each hemisphere of the human brain is better suited to particular forms of information. Traditionally, the left hemisphere has been thought of as the home of reason, logic, numbers, and language. While the right side excels in rhythm, color, images, and intuition. Provide information is a way that appealed to as many of these cross strengths as possible, it was believed, and the brain would be more able to learn, remember, synthesize, and create.

As this idea has gained popularity over the years, so has the idea that some people’s brains are better able to take in information captured in one of these way (i.e. some of us are “visual learners.” More recently, research suggests that we all think better when information is communicated using these different modalities. Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words. But a picture with a caption written in bold red type with an exclamation point is worth a lot more.

Read the other entries in the series:
Part 2: The Chunking of Language
Part 3: Improving Student Writing
Part 4: Improving Research

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving! Get 25% Off My Books

Recently I received an email with the subject line "Your book is phenomenal!"  Okay, I thought, I'm listening:
Dear Tom,

I just wanted to shoot you an email to tell you that I love your book. It has so many fantastic ideas that I already have  implemented  in my classroom. As a fellow teacher, our job can be a little overwhelming at times because we need to both really engage the students and also get them to learn the material. Many people can do one of the two things mentioned, but it takes a really hard-working teacher to do both simultaneously. Your book has really provided me with a lot of different ideas and I just wanted to say thank you. I really appreciate you publishing it and making it so easily accessible to anyone. I use your website/blog and I purchased your book on my iPhone so that it is always in my pocket. Thanks again!

Ryan Smith
Mathematics Teacher
Ryan is referring to my first book, Ten Cheap Lessons.  This is one of the best compliments I've ever received, and it came at a time when I was struggling at school and needed the boost.  In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'm excited to share a great deal on either of my books:

Get 25% off my books now through December 14th: Go to my Author Spotlight on, order a book (or two), and enter the code BUYMYBOOK305 at checkout.

Have a great holiday!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Equations vs. Inequalities Mini-Poster Project

The first chapter in my first book is entitled "The Mini-Poster," so it should be no surprise that it's a favorite that I constantly adapt to new topics.  This time around, I wanted to do a "six weeks" project to wrap up the grading period in Algebra I, where we've been working on solving equations and inequalities.

In this project, students make four mini-posters (one 8.5" by 11" page each) for four (technically seven) types of problems:
  1. One-step equations and inequalities
  2. Two-step equations and inequalities
  3. Multi-step equations and inequalities
  4. Special case for inequalities (when you have to flip the inequality sign)
Except for the last one, each poster is supposed to have what is essentially the same problem worked out the same way, but one is an equation and the other an inequality (with the sign of their choosing).  The difference is that the inequality has the particular sign and needs to be graphed on the number line.

By forcing them to do the mirror-image problems, the message is explicit: you solve both problems with the same steps.  Along with reviewing all of the problems, the purpose of this project is indeed to draw the clear connection between solving the two types of problems.  I told students to keep the title and "how to solve" sections the same as what's on the directions, but to change the examples (helpfully outlined in boxes) to their own

Regular readers will probably note that this isn't all that different from the Linear Equation Formula Book project I shared last week; indeed, one student that I have in both classes made the same connection fairly quickly.  That's because it's not really all that different.  But that's okay.

Download a PDF of the project directions here:

Here are some of my earlier mini-poster ideas for you to draw from:

Friday, November 4, 2011

Weekend Reader on Classroom Blogging & Writing

How to Start Blogging with Students [Educational Technology in ELT]

Using Blogs to Engage English Language Learners [Edutopia]

Talker's block [Seth Godin] - The prolific, best-selling writer reminds us that the best way to get better at writing is to practice every day, as much as possible.  He suggests setting up some kind of public blog, which is good advice.  If you were working with high school students on writing, this would be a good article for them to read.

Harness the Mental, Creative, and Emotional Benefits of Regular Writing [Lifehacker]

How to create a Digital Publishing Culture [Connect! via Twitter]

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Updated Linear Equation Project Idea

One of the lesson ideas I recently rediscovered was a project I dubbed the "Linear Equation Formula Book".  Student get to prove they can do the types of problems we've been focusing on throughout the unit in a way that doesn't seem like an assessment.

First, the kids create a "book" by folding two pieces of paper together (hamburger style).  On each page, they'll write a title, a formula/steps to follow, and include their own completed example.

On my guide I include completed examples of each page and type of problem we've been focusing on:
  1. Finding slope between two points
  2. Rewriting equations into slope-intercept form
  3. Finding an equation using point-slope form
  4. Graphing from slope-intercept form
  5. Finding x and y-intercepts
  6. Finding the slope of parallel and perpendicular lines
  7. Graphing linear inequalities
My students really had to just worry about using their own example--the title and formula/steps (explained in the way I usually break it down) could be the same.  While some students missed the point and just copied the whole thing verbatim, most did it right (or did so when it was returned to them to fix).

I like this as an effective review (or a fun alternative assessment in and of itself) because students have to demonstrate that they can successfully do each of these types of problem.  Either way, the book can stay with the students as a fun, accessible study guide for future state or end-of-year exams.

Download a PDF of my project directions below.  This is designed to take about two 45-55 minute class periods at most.

Linear Equation Formula Book (new fall 2011 version)

Here's are two alternate versions you can also draw ideas from:

Linear Equation Formula Book (2009 version)
Project Idea: Using Formulas to Find Area, Perimeter and Circumference

Monday, October 31, 2011

Singing About Domain and Range (Again)

Today I'm performing the Domain & Range Song for my math models students:

I'll let you know how it goes this time around with my kids, but feel free to show it (or perform it) for your own.  In the meantime, read the original post on how and why to use ideas like this in your classes.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Weekend Reader on What Needs to Change in Education

17 Signs Your Classroom is Behind the Times [SimpleK12]

Why Alternative Education Needs to Go Mainstream [GOOD]

Remediation Nation: Why College Students Say High School Needs Change [GOOD]

Top 10 Signs Your School Is Caught in a Time Warp: List for School Leaders [The 21st Century Principal]

Good Teaching Trumps Hi-Tech [The Quick & The Ed] - Let's remember that just purchasing technology or putting it in student's hands doesn't excuse us from good teaching that utilizes it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Updated Newspaper Math Activity

One of my favorite classroom tools is the newspaper, and I'm excited to reintroduce it to my classes this year.  I updated this 2007 newspaper activity focused on rates, ratios and proportions.  In the activity, students are directed to specific sections of our local newspaper where there's data like currency exchange rates, gas prices, and our team's football statistics and use those numbers to solve problems.

It's designed specifically for my local paper, but you should easily be able to adapt it to your own.  I purchased enough papers for groups to share to keep costs (and mess) low and also picked up a stack of (free) flyers from our local supermarket chain.  The latter was used for students to find examples of rates and unit rates.

Updated Newspaper Math Activity on rates, ratios and proportions 

Here's a collection of the newspaper math activities I've used over the years:

Using the Newspaper in Algebra I
More Ways to Use Newspapers in Algebra I
Even More Ways to Use the Newspaper in Algebra I

You can find more ideas for using newspapers in the classroom in my book Ten Cheap Lessons.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Four Classroom Ideas I've Recently Rediscovered

I've had to dive deep into my bag of tricks this year to help my struggling students improve.  Here are some of the lessons and ideas I've used since school started:

Math in the Real World Project
Project Idea: Independent vs. Dependent Variables
Getting student feedback: October 2008 edition
Linear Equations Formula Book

I hope you find some of them helpful!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Are College Students Really Underprepared?

ExamSome alarming studies have been published in the last decade which show many graduates of American high schools are not prepared for entry-level college coursework. The percentages given in the various studies differ widely, but one found approximately half of all students entering post-secondary institutions (40 percent of those entering four-year colleges and 60 percent of those entering two-year colleges) are required to take remedial courses in math, reading, or both before beginning entry-level college courses.

What makes a student ready for college? Obviously academic experience is key. Students who take more high school courses in English, math, and science have greater success in college and are more likely to complete a college degree. Students with higher ACT and SAT scores also tend to be more successful in college. However, other factors play a role, and more than just academic knowledge is necessary to make a smooth transition to college.

Some non-academic skills critical to scholarly success include time management, goal-setting, and enough self-esteem to believe one is able to do college-level work. Courses on conventional campuses and online college classes both require students to work much more independently, with less supervision and teacher assistance, than do high school courses. Higher-level critical thinking skills are also required.

Studies show fundamental differences in expectations between the standardized tests used in many states to qualify students for high school graduation, and those used by many universities to determine placement in remedial or entry-level coursework. High school graduation tests in math contain items more likely to be open-ended and set in realistic situations, while college admission and placement tests require logic, procedural knowledge, and problem-solving. High school tests also rarely include material beyond first-year algebra, but college tests routinely include material in second-year algebra and trigonometry. In tests of reading, high school tests measure comprehension using multiple choice questions, while college tests assess students' ability to draw inferences and conclusions.

There are also significant differences between coursework requirements for high school graduation and for college admission. In many states, students who have taken the courses required for high school graduation haven't met the minimum requirements for college admission.

Many studies have recommended closer collaboration between high school and university curriculum planners so that college-level thinking skills are developed much earlier. Some states are changing their high school graduation requirements to coincide with college entrance requirements, but much more work needs to be done to ensure that consistency nationwide. Efforts are also underway in many communities to encourage more academic rigor in middle school.

Unfortunately, the gap between high school graduation and college readiness isn't one that can be bridged overnight. It will take a concerted effort by educators, lawmakers, universities, and students themselves to make the necessary strides.

This is a guest post by Marina Salsbury.  Marina planned on becoming a teacher since high school, but found her way instead into online writing after college. She writes around the Web about everything from education to exercise.

Friday, October 21, 2011

5 More Seth Godin Ideas Every Educator Should Read

This past summer I shared 5 Seth Godin Ideas Every Educator Should Read, but I knew I'd have more of his wisdom to share in short order.  Here you go:

The warning signs of defending the status quo - You won't hear me arguing to change for the sake of change, but these are things to consider when there's uncomfortable changes on the horizon.

Back to (the wrong) school - Echoing Sir Ken Robinson, Godin points out that we're preparing students for an economy (and world) that no longer exists.

Confusing obedience with self-control - I'm having trouble thinking of examples of how we don't do this in most schools.

The facts - Applied to teaching: you need more than facts (you'll fail if you don't complete this, you'll get in trouble if you do that) to convince your students of anything.

Yelling and whispering -"Yelling... is a waste of time, regardless of how urgent the issue is."

Monday, October 17, 2011

Teaching Economics with Games and Activities

The field of Economics is at the cornerstone of our everyday existence. There is no aspect of our day to day functioning that it does not impact in some way, shape or form.

Whether we’re shopping at the local mall, dining out at a restaurant, toiling away at our jobs, or simply having our cars serviced, there’s no escaping its basic principles, practices and reach. That is exactly why today’s student benefits from understanding its relevance and how it defines and shapes the future.

Even though it’s a serious topic, class instruction doesn't have to be boring and strictly “by the book.” You’ll find that the class environment and experience will be much more enjoyable and enlightening through combining various teaching methods, including games and activities. Games and activities are great teaching tools to encourage interaction, comprehension and retention.

With this in mind, here are a few creative and fun ways to teach learners of varying ages and levels about economics.

1. Schoolhouse Rock Series - Have you heard of this clever product? For those that haven’t, Schoolhouse Rock was a series created by David McCall that made learning various subjects really cool and fun. Inspired back in the ’70s when his son was having difficulty remembering and mastering mathematical concepts, he came up with the idea of using rock music as a teaching tool, and produced a line of musical educational products that addressed an array of subjects---from math, to grammar, to the constitution, It originally aired as musical shorts on Saturdays, back in the ’70s on ABC, but all of the original videos are available on DVD. Its effectiveness existed in using key phrases, colorful language, alliteration and other devices to boost memory and to create lasting connections.

2. Monopoly Game - Monopoly is a board game originally created by Parker Bros that imparts important and useful concepts and vocabulary words for students of economics. Participants will use strategy to buy and sell property, learn about applicable taxes, and handle money transactions in the process. Hugely popular, the game is still enjoyed today by adults as well. Besides the fun factor, it’s a great way to incorporate aspects of monetary economics.

3. Add technology to your assignments. Online activities can also bring a new dimension to your efforts. There are many online resources that provide puzzles, worksheets, vocabulary lessons, and even interesting links to follow. How do you find them? Simply “Google” the key words in the search engine. For example, to find your subject, type in “economic games” and you’ll yield a listing of perhaps thousands of leads. The more specific your inquiry, the more successful the search. Try it.

4. Bring students current on current events. Bring a recent newspaper to class and find relevant headlines that can be discussed in the classroom. For example, President Obama’s job creation plan, or the rising price of gas. The want ads can be used to discuss career goals, entrepreneurship, and taxes. Sales ads can be the catalyst for a conversation of wants vs. needs. Get the picture?

Follow these four techniques and tools to make learning economics a fun and rewarding experience for your students. Also, keep in mind that we are living in a day and age (and video culture), where “entertainment value” is increasingly important, even in the classroom.

This is a guest post by Troy Edwards, who writes for the blog What is Economics? where you can learn about and study economics 101. He has been in education for 10 years as a teacher and administrator. Currently, Troy is a math and social studies teacher in a special settings school for disadvantaged students.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Student Self-Publishing, Solar Energy Lessons & More

Tikatok Across the Curriculum - This Barnes & Noble-owned website, which allows kids to publish their own books, will be releasing a free series of activities, projects and more for incorporating writing across the curriculum in grades K-8 over the next year.  There will be one new module released each month on their website.

U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon Curriculum - There was an exciting event going on recently on the National Mall: teams of college students from around the planet are showing off solar-powered houses that aim to maximize efficiency while keeping costs low (and designing something people might actually want to live in).  The DOE has created four lesson plans on solar energy for middle and high school students to supplement the event.

28 Creative Ideas for Teaching with Twitter [MindShift] - See my earlier posts Weekend Reader on Social Media in the Classroom - Sept 2011 and 5 Thoughts & Ideas for Embracing Social Media in Education.

A Non-Designer's Guide to Creating Awesome Diagrams for Slides [Lifehacker] - If you must make slides (please don't), here's some creative guidance.

Learning Anywhere, Anytime: MIT Bringing Education to Cell Phones [GOOD] - For more on using cell phones in education, read last month's Weekend Reader on Cell Phones in the Classroom.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Using Comic Books & Graphic Novels in the Classroom

This is a guest post by elementary teacher and frequent contributor Adrian Neibauer. You can reach him on

Graphic Novels
Photo courtesy: Enokson
WHY use comic books/graphic novels in the classroom?

The short answer: I teach by whatever means necessary…even comic books.

The long answer: I use comic books/graphic novels in my classroom because I intend to change the way teachers look at literacy instruction. I want to give teachers supplemental literacy instructional tools: comic books and graphic novels, in order to increase their male students’ level of intrinsic reading motivation. I want to prove to parents and educators that I can adequately teach students to use critical thinking skills and reading strategies with comic literature.

Here are some great resources for those just starting out:
Most local comic book stores have $1.00 comics. It is probably the cheapest reading material I can find, and it is great for buying multiple copies for a guided reading table. Just be sure to read/preview any/all comics you purchase.

Graphic novels are a bit longer and more expensive, but they make some great ones for potential novel studies…especially if you want to read a classic and compare it to the graphic novel version.

I created interactive SMART board lessons for each of the eight essential reading strategies I intended to teach: Inference, Questioning, Prediction, Summary, Connections, Visualizing, Determining Important Ideas, and Synthesis. I also included an introduction to reading comic literature so that every student enters each lesson with a basic schema regarding how to read a comic book/graphic novel. I intended for this curriculum to take about nine weeks to teach, with one week dedicated to each of the reading strategies and the introduction. However, I want to reiterate that this comic curriculum is only meant to supplement already best reading instructional practices taking place in the classroom; therefore, teachers can use these lessons as they see fit in their classroom.

Throughout this process, I encountered some challenges. Each interactive SMART board lesson took considerable time to create. At times, I struggled with embedding various comic examples from my newly purchased books within each lesson. I do not own a scanner, so I relied on the Internet and my document camera to display the graphic novel example(s). There is a growing popularity in digital comic literature, but as with any new technology, it is not free. In the future, I plan to pursue this option.

Marvel's Digital Comics is a great resource for grades 4-5 or for anyone with a projector. You can view free samples of tons of great comics. NOTE: Always preview any literature, even comic literature, before showing it to students.

Marvel Kids is geared for the younger grades (K-3).

Adventures in Graphica by Terry Thompson is by far the BEST book of teachers wanting to get some comics and start teaching. Terry has amazing lessons that are ready to use for any classroom!

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud. Great for anyone interesting in a more in-depth analysis of comic literature. It is written in comic format, which makes some of the heavier concepts easier to understand.

Basically, use what you have available. Teach student to read comics correctly, and then you can easily make the transition to regular text. DO NOT let anyone tell you that comics are easier reading than traditional literature. I own a copy of the graphic novel adaptation of the 9/11 Commission Report. It is a DIFFICULT book!

Finally, present comics as just another medium for traditional genres. There are comic mysteries, memoirs, short stories, poetry, you name it. Don’t feel like you need to be an expert. Kids love learning/exploring new and uncharted territory together with you. Just have fun reading!

Friday, October 7, 2011

5 Resources for Connecting Math to the Real World

Move Over, Sal Khan: Sixth-Graders Create Their Own Math Videos! [Mind/Shift] - Kids using screencasting software, tablet computers and the web to make math tutorial videos.

Flickr: Math in the Real World [via Twitter] - Looks like a class project idea to me! See also Flickr: MAA Found Math's Photostream.

Ideas to Make Math Exciting [via Twitter] - Aimed at helping early elementary and other younger kids.

How Do We Get More Students Interested in Math, Science & Tech Careers? [INFOGRAPHIC] [Mashable!]

When Will I Use This? Why Math Education Needs to Adapt to the Real World - Education - GOOD

Friday, September 30, 2011

Weekend Reader on Video Games in Education: Sept 2011

Three Qualities That Make Video Games Better Teachers Than Teachers - EdReach [via Twitter]

Game Design Engages Students in STEM - High School Notes [US News] - A few years ago I got to take part in a robotics workshop at UMass Lowell, and while I never got the chance to follow through, I had no doubts about how much it would engage and excite students. I think any kind of entry level programming, robotics or game design you can get kids involved in will have amazing results in the classroom and in their long term participation in STEM majors/careers.

8 other ways gaming is good for your kids [via Twitter]

Cosmic Log - Gamers solve molecular puzzle that baffled scientists - A couple of years ago I wrote about exposing my students to Foldit, the online game that tapped into human ingenuity for science.  Gamers have just made perhaps their biggest breakthrough through a puzzle that will help the fight against AIDS.

Million Moms March Challenge Launches Educational Alternative to FarmVille [Mashable] - I'm really excited that a group with a lot of visibility is pushing for the development of more educational social games.  In a perfect world, I'd like companies like Zynga to step up and help develop and market these themselves.  They know how to combine social connections with the right game mechanics to make addictive, fun games--why reinvent the wheel?  I wrote more on this idea for the Educational Games Research blog last year.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Review for a Test with a Fake Test

One idea that's mentioned but not fully explored in Ten Cheap Lessons is creating a fake test as a review tool.  Essentially you take a set of problems similar to what will be on your test and work them out   incorrectly, purposely making the kinds of mistakes you've seen your students making over and over again.  Your students basically become the teacher, finding the error(s) and the correct answer.

In previous years I've went overboard trying to make this "test" seem authentic, but this year I decided to just be honest and direct.  "All of these problems were solved incorrectly.  All of the answers are wrong," I told them.  "These are the mistakes I've been seeing too many of you continue to make, and I don't want you to make them again on the test."  If you've been reviewing something for what seems like forever, or you simplify have a stale routine, this is an easy way to shake things up.

In the example below (which my students worked on yesterday), you'll see the key mistakes circled along with the correct answer in red.  The student version had no such marks (there was another side to this page as well that I chose not to include).  

Share your versions of this kind of review assignment (along with any other creative ideas you have) in the comments.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Weekend Reader on Social Media in the Classroom - Sept 2011

Why Schools Should Learn To Use Online Services Like Facebook & YouTube Rather Than Banning Them [Techdirt]

50 Reasons to Invite Facebook Into Your Classroom [MindShift]

Tiny Bursts of Learning [Betchablog] - On Twitter as a powerful professional learning tool for teachers.

3 Tips for Teachers Using Social Media in the Classroom [Mashable!] - Written for college, but the 3 tips apply across the board.

Common Sense Social Media Policies in Schools: Working with It Instead of Banning It [The 21st Century Principal]

Monday, September 12, 2011

Make a Music Video, Win $170K in Tech for Your Classroom!

Last year I shared a $75K classroom tech makeover contest from eInstruction.  This year, the company will give away more than $170K in their 2011 Classroom Makeover Contest!

Entering the annual contest is straightforward: "Make a short, creative music video demonstrating how you and your students use technology to enhance learning in the classroom."  There will be winners for three categories: K-5, 6-8 and 9-12.

Here's the winning 9-12 video from 2010 (my favorite of the three).

Entries are due by October 25th.  Read the details and official rules on the official 2011 Classroom Makeover Contest website.  Send in links to your entries!

Friday, September 9, 2011

September Weekend Reader on Cell Phones in the Classroom

Are Schools on the Verge of a Mobile-Phone Revolution? [GOOD]

Cellphones in the Classroom [Cool Cat Teacher] - A slideshow by Vicki Davis (aka Cool Cat Teacher) on figuring out whether cell phones are the right fit for your classroom and how to best utilize them.

A 21st-Century Twist on Current Events Classroom Activities [The Next Generation of Educational Leadership] - Use smartphones, iPads or plain old laptops to make current events truly current.

Class, Turn On Your Cell Phones: It’s Time to Text [MindShift]

QR Codes in the Classroom [Learning Today] - With a smartphone, these codes become amazing interactive tools that any teacher (or student) can create and use.

Related: Read my recent post It's Time for Leaders to Embrace Cell Phones in the Classroom for more on this topic.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

OfficeMax Print Center Coupons for Teachers

OfficeMax recently shared some teacher-focused coupons for their ImPress Print Center that you can print out from this Google Doc.  The first deal has expired (I apologize for not sharing these sooner, but school has already started), but there are two coupons that run through September 24th:
  • $8.99 on 18”-by-24” posters (regular price is $17.98)
  • 50% off on lamination services 
Download the coupons here.  I hope you are looking to avoid too many out-of-pocket expenses, but these should help if you can't avoid it!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Make Everything a Whiteboard: IdeaPaint Classroom Makeover Contest

IdeaPaint, the dry erase whiteboard paint company, is running a 360° IdeaPaint Classroom Makeover contest.  Just post a video or photo gallery of the space you want to makeover along with a description of why you want to do so, and submit via their online form.

Two schools will have up to 500 square feet of their classrooms professionally painted with IdeaPaint!  Deadline for submissions is September 30thClick through to read all the details.

I'm curious to see your submissions, or any spaces you've already used whiteboard paint to engage your students. Share links and ideas in the comments.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Quick Back to School 2011 Weekend Reader

32 Interesting Ways to Get to Know Your Class This Year [via Twitter] - Creative Google Docs presentation with pictures & examples for a range of grade levels/ages.  You don't have to do this on the first day, either. 

Back to School: 42 Digital Resources for Students & Parents [Mashable]

How to Save on School Supplies Without Going Crazy [Wise Bread]

Lego Announces Back-to-School Contest for Educators [Wired: GeekDad]

How to Stop Working and Go Home At Night [Lifehacker]

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Education Buzz Blog Carnival: Back to School 2011 Edition!

It's time once again for the Education Buzz blog carnival!  I'm happy to be hosting for the first time in a long time, sharing great submissions and some great posts I've been eager to share.  Let's get to it:

Sensational Submissions!

Friend of the blog John Pearson celebrates the release of his new book in Learn Me Good: The day is here! posted on Learn Me Good.

Nancy Flanagan presents The Five Million Dollar Demonstration posted at Teacher in a Strange Land, noting "So what was that Save Our Schools March thing about, anyway?"

Michail Spiliopoulos presents How to memorize information more efficiently preparing for exams (Part 1) posted at Brain superiority...Boost your brain power!!!. Includes links to parts 2 & 3.

Darren presents Teacher Suspended For Blog Post Back On The Job posted at Right on the Left Coast: Views From a Conservative Teacher. Would you want your kid in this teacher's class? Would you want to be in it? Would you even want this person as your colleague? I'd have to say no to all three.

Jennifer Bardsley presents Afterschooling, a Definition posted at Teaching My Baby To Read.

Joep de Graaff presents Dumbing down posted at Dancing Crocodile, reflecting on our increasing reliance on technology to do our thinking for us.

siobhan curious presents Should We Bid Farewell to the Academic Paper? posted at Classroom as Microcosm, noting: "This post was featured on the front page of last week and got a whopping 167 comments - why not add yours to the conversation?"

The ringmaster of this carnival, Carol Richtsmeier presents Back-to-School, Top 5 Dream Killers & Educational Polyjuice posted at Bellringers.

Danette Schott presents Asperger Syndrome: What Teachers Need to Know :: Help! S-O-S for Parents posted at Help! S-O-S for Parents.

Rachel presents Getting Freshman Off to the Right Start posted at High School Ed Help.

Host Selections
The geniuses at adaptive software maker Knewton explain How to Make an Interactive Lesson Using YouTube on Knewton EdTech blog.  This is one of the most exciting posts I've read in quite a long time.  I didn't realize how simple it is to create what is basically a choose-your-own-adventure series of videos.

Jennifer Barnett posted a list of ideas for High-Tech Teaching in a Low-Tech Classroom on EdWeek's Teacher Leaders Network.

Shelly Blake-Plock of TeachPaperless tells us I Am Not A Great Teacher, knowing that admitting you don't know everything is a pretty important idea in and of itself.

Tom Schimmer reads my mind and makes an eloquent argument about the fallacy of penalizing students (or not even accepting) late work in Enough with the Late Penalties!

Steve Wheeler gives us Seven reasons teachers should blog on Learning with 'e's.  No argument here!

Jay Dolmage shares ideas for students to write about their personal, family and cultural Food Rules on Bedford Bits: Ideas for Teaching Composition.  Sometimes I wish I taught some kind of writing course, but then I remember the nonsense around standardized testing.

Katie Hellerman shares Top Five Fastest Ways to Improve Your Teaching on The Teaching Game.  Can't really disagree with any of them.

Liz Dwyer, Education Editor of GOOD, reports on exciting times in science education in Who Runs the World? Three Girls Sweep Google's Science Fair.

Texas teacher Mrs. H shares an all-too-common story about anxiety before the first day of school in And the Nightmares Begin, posted on Math Tales from the Spring.

Finally, I had to share the wisdom of Seth Godin in Is your anger killing your art? from Seth's Blog.

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of education buzz using our carnival submission form.  Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.