Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Top Stocking Stuffers

I'm not sure if these technology gadgets really could fit into a stocking, but here is the top 10 (or so) list of what was most popular for Christmas gifts this year.

Drum roll please...

  1. iPad 2
  2. Kindle Fire
  3. Apple TV
  4. iPhone 4S/iPod Touch
  5. MacBook Air
  6. Nook Color
  7. Wii
  8. Playstation 3
  9. iPod Shuffle (2GB)
  10. iPad Bluetooth Keyboard Attachment (see #1).
Bonus gift: Freehands gloves! (not on some lists, but a must-have for you texters)

Now, the real fun begins. Learning how to use these tools effectively! Whether you are an educator or not, one simple rule applies: get to know your technology.  Before you start spending a considerable amount of time with your new (and probably pricey) gadget, read about it. Use your new gift in small amounts and in a stress free, low risk environment. Enjoy the technology, don't start off with frustration. While instruction manuals and how to guides can be cumbersome, talk to those around you who have used the technology item before. What are some tricks or shortcuts they have used? Also, every company has a website on how to use their product, you can also check there. Sometimes they will post quick tips, videos, or a blog where others post their successes or challenges with the technology equipment.

You will save yourself time in the long run if you take the time now to understand what makes your technology tick.

NOTE: This list is in no particular order as it truly depends on who your sources are. I blended the lists from two websites: and;brandnav

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


In case you haven't heard, there's a 'new' instructional strategy teachers are using in their classroom called "Flipping your Classroom" or the "Flipped Classroom".

Basically it is this: instead of a teacher lecturing IN class, they digitally provide the videos (they used powerpoint) or podcasts to the students as homework OUT of class.   Class time is spent on collaborative learning projects, individual help and engaging activities. This prevents boring lectures and the students 'sitting and getting'.

Who came up with this notion? Well, Jonathan Bergman and Aaron Sams were the first ones to coin the phrase. As teachers at Woodland Park High School in Woodland Park, CO they wanted to create ways to engage their students who were present in class and make sure those who missed class were receiving the instructional support they needed.  You can see the chart of how it all came to be at:

Famous questions, what does the data show? did the test scores go up? Well, they did. In fact, they also saw other positive effects of this teaching model: lower behavior problems and decreases in students flunking math and english. Obviously, the students in this school had devices at home to access the videos. This could be a challenge for some schools and teachers. Students may not have internet access at home and/or the program the teacher is using with the video. If this is the case, the teacher will need to think of a creative solution.

But reflect on this model: instead of sitting through a professor or teacher lecturing each class, what if you did you 'homeowork' and projects IN class and watched those lectures at home. You are able to pause the lecture where you need to take notes, write down questions, and refer to the readings. Then in class you can work on showing what you learned in a collaborative and engaging environment. Instead of, at home, where you may not be able to find the answers and you are isolated in what you are learning. You can also take breaks from watching a 20 + minute lecture!

As you begin a new year, share this idea with an educator. Remembering, it needs to have a purpose tied to the objective! Start with the end in mind and decide if that particular unit, lecture or activity would actually benefit the students, if the Flipped Classroom model is used. I have tried a similar method in my courses with much success. You bet I will 'flip' some lectures and projects in my course next semester, when it will be meaningful to enhance the learning of my students. 

I think it just might make me more flexible as an educator and my students may flip for joy!