Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Student Video Contest Focuses on Global Connections

A great contest for high school students just came into my inbox. Pass it along to your students (especially if they have iPads or similar devices at their disposal):
A national grassroots group is offering high school students the chance to win $1,000 and other cash prizes in a student video PSA contest.

Population Connection, the nation’s largest grassroots population organization, is again hosting its “World of 7 Billion” contest. Students in grades 9-12 are asked to create a 30-45 second public service announcement that illustrates the connection between world population at seven billion and one of the following topics: Food security, wildlife habitat, or the global status of women and girls.

Cash prizes will be awarded to four winners in each topic area. Three grand prize winners will receive $1,000. Participating teachers will receive free curriculum. The deadline for video submission is Feb. 21, 2013.

For full contest rules or to see previous winning videos, please visit

Friday, November 9, 2012

November 2012 Reader on Tech in the Classroom

Cleveland Heights Schools End iPad Project After Students Become Targets for Mugging [StateImpact Ohio via The Quick and the Ed] - Unintended consequences of issuing high tech devices to students. I haven't heard of too many incidents of this caliber here in McAllen, where all students will soon have iPads or iPad Touch devices, but we certainly dealt with theft, misplaced devices and damage last year (the pilot/transition year).

Does More Tech in the Classroom Help Kids Learn? [Mashable!] - For more on this idea, read my reflections after visiting a Rocketship Education school in 2010: Lessons Learned from Rocketship Education.

D.C. students test ‘Teach to One’ learning system [Washington Post via The Quick and the Ed]

10 Things School Leaders Do to Kill a Teacher's Enthusiasm for Technology [The 21st Century Principal]

Low Income Students’ Test Scores Leap 30% With Smartphone Use [Mashable!]

Monday, November 5, 2012

Review and Giveaway: 'The Together Teacher' by Maia Heyck-Merlin

Maia Heyck-Merlin has put together what should be required reading for teachers who are a couple of years into their career, a sort of sequel to The First Days of School that paints with a much wider brush.  The Together Teacher is, in short, a powerful toolbox for veteran teachers.

The structure of Heyck-Merlin's book reflects heavily on the style of thinking and planning that Teach For America and Achievement First similarly employ in their respective organizations.  Each chapter is full of reflection questions, critical thoughts about why each tool is important, and real life examples and scenarios that provide guidance on what these tools might look like in action.  The emphasis on nuanced, detailed planning is also a hallmark of what these organizations teach their people to do.

The most important thing about this book is not the structure, however, but the philosophy behind the tools. You need all this planning and organization not just to become a more effective teacher, but to make sure you have time for your life outside of teaching.  Heyck-Merlin wants effective teaching to go hand in hand with a sustainable career, something that TFA and high-performing charters like AF talk about but don't necessarily prioritize.

The amount of planning, organizing and systematization that goes into being a "together" teacher might seem daunting to those who aren't so formal with their routines, systems and procedures. Yet Heyck-Merlin breaks down her methods and templates so well that most teachers should be able to pull much of it off if they're willing to put in the effort.

A guide as comprehensive as The Together Teacher must be read, absorbed and used like any other resource: you take what you can.  Teaching is more art than science, both in how each of us approaches the job and in how carry it out.  The tools in The Together Teacher aren't going to work for everybody, but everybody will be able to find something in these pages.

I have a copy of the book to give away. All you have to do for a chance to win the book is send an email with the subject "Together Teacher Giveaway" to by Tuesday, November 6 at 11:59pm CST.  I'll select a winner at random.

Thanks to John Wiley & Sons, Inc. for providing a review copy.

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Brief Collection of Critical Topics Missing From Most Curricula

Creative Thinking: What Does Teaching Creativity Look Like? [GOOD]

Entrepreneurship: Why Students Should Gain Entrepreneurship Experience Before Graduating [TechCrunch] - This article is focused on college students, but the lesson is true for middle and high school students as well.

Web (media) literacy: Why Web Literacy Should Be Part of Every Education [Fast Company: Co.Exist] - See also 12 Things Students Should Never Do on Social Media from Mashable.

Coding: Want to Teach Kids to Code? Send 'Em to a 'Hack Jam' [GOOD] - Learning to code is not just for engineers or computer scientists anymore, as an increasingly wider range of career opportunities for people with coding skills has been building up for years. That's before you consider how much coding can help you with problem solving, logic and creative thinking.

Independence, tolerance and a few more: 9 Essential Skills Kids Should Learn []