Need Data? Get Tuva!

TuvaLogoTuva is a unique data analysis tool available free on the web. It is really a very cool tool for school use. It can be used in the classroom or for school data analysis.

It is necessary to create a free account to use Tuva (Tuva Basic). Free accounts are available for teachers and students. A teacher account allows a teacher to create classes to organize and manage student work. (Tuva also offers a fee-based package called Tuva Premium, but most educators in the field report that they are able to get a lot of use from their free accounts.)

At the heart of Tuva is raw data that is uploaded by a user. Once the data is loaded, Tuva allows the user to manipulate and compare the data in a variety of ways. However, uploaded datasets become part of a library that can be accessed and used by others. There are many different datasets already available in Tuva, and teachers could design work using just the existing Tuva datasets.

In addition to facilitating work with data, Tuva also provides activities that could be customized into student work designs to suit the needs, motives, and values of students. Tuva can address multiple Design Qualities when incorporated into student work designs. Really, Tuva is all about Organization of  Knowledge. There is a certain Novelty aspect to the platform during initial use. Depending on the work design, Tuva can address all the other Design Qualities too.

The two videos below demonstrate the tool.

We hope you enjoy exploring Tuva!


The Engagement People

Move Beyond Strategic Planning

Strategic planning. We’ve all been there. As teachers, we likely had our first experience serving on a committee to write action plans. As administrators, we perhaps were involved in the larger planning of goals. As senior administrators, we may have had the task of coordinating stakeholders like school board members and community representatives in order to get their input.

Untitled-1And when we were done, we held a notebook in our hands with well-typed pages about our vision, our mission, our goals, and the actions we would take to implement the plan.

We hoped the plans came to life. In the best of circumstances, we did our level best to implement the plans we wrote. But all too often, our plans ended up on a bookshelf, lucky to get an annual review as we returned to the day-to-day realities of running our schools.

We can do better.

Strategic planning should support the core business of schools rather than become the core business of schools. It is time to go beyond strategic planning and move up to a Strategic Change Agenda.

While most school districts have strategic plans in place, there are often a multitude of additional plans, driven by various mandates, living alongside those strategic plans. Furthermore, strategic plans tend to address tactics instead of strategies that reflect the current changing context and create a focus on the future. Lack of coherence and an emphasis on tactics often causes weak implementation, frustrated stakeholders, and the dubious “notebook on a shelf” syndrome.

If it is the intent of district leaders to continually improve their organizations without introducing changes that challenge the current culture and structure of the district, then a traditional strategic plan may be in order. On the other hand, if the current culture and structure inhibit the capacity of the organization to successfully meet the needs of students and community, then a different process is called for.

A Strategic Change Agenda creates an opportunity for school districts to transform traditional strategic planning into an active, actionable, nimble process that maps a customized path for positive change. 

A Strategic Change Agenda replaces traditional strategic planning with a guided strategic thinking process. Leader aspirations and district capacity come together to co-create a path of action steps and milestones that will engage the entire stakeholder community in envisioning, supporting, and sustaining quality education for students. A Strategic Change Agenda goes beyond a strategic plan to create a new way of thinking and problem solving that will allow districts to sustain innovation in the face of future changes and challenges.

In short, a Strategic Change Agenda places more emphasis on the following:

  • The changing context in which school districts operate
  • The capacity of the organization to focus on the future, maintain direction, and act strategically
  • Understanding the needs, interests, and motives of the stakeholders affected
  • Assessing progress as well as performance
  • Accountability based on trust
  • Having those who implement action plans develop them
  • Student, staff, and community engagement
  • Becoming a learning organization
  • Turning aspirations into reality
  • Lasting change

It’s time to move beyond strategic planning and embrace a Strategic Change Agenda. Interested in learning more? Contact us for more information.

The Engagement People

When Digital Collaboration, Engagement, and Design Come Together

Mr. Smith is in a quandary. His standards require that he teach his students about parabolas. There are formulas they must learn to use. In the past he has struggled to find a connection that his students might value, and teaching this material has been difficult.

While monitoring his Twitter feed, Mr. Smith comes across an interesting possibility. He decides to break it apart, analyze it, and see if it might help him engage his students in working on this standard. The possibility is called Pixar in a Box.

Pixar in a Box takes students into the world of movie animation and shows them how animators create their movie scenes. After introductory material on animation, the program starts with a basic process of animating leaves blowing in the wind and shows how the action is created with math. The work is based in parabolas and teaches the concepts of parabolas.

Mr. Smith thinks about all this in terms of social motives. His students like making movies. They all have movie-making programs on their smartphones. They shoot video clips and create short movies in their everyday lives. The movie examples in the Pixar work are a little dated, but this may play out in his students’ favor as they are movies many have watched in their elementary years, like Toy Story, Cars, Brave, and Finding Nemo. The Pixar work is cosponsored by the Khan Academy, and the accompanying math explanations are very clear. He looks at how the work is organized and likes the sequencing and the use of video explanations. Instead of listening to him lecture, his students can play the videos back and forth as needed and work at their own pace. Mr. Smith will then be free to walk around his class and coach as needed.

All of this just capitalizes on Authenticity (they are legitimately interested in movie making),  Novelty and Variety (the examples are cartoon animations they should identify with), and Organization of Knowledge (sequencing, video presentation of content).

His students have shown in the past that they value these qualities of schoolwork. The Pixar work has stimulated Mr. Smith’s creativity and he begins to wonder if he can design a larger body of work around the concepts of math, animation, and movie making. He has access to other animation programs like Sock Puppets and Plotagon. His students could create animated explanations of math concepts with these. Mr. Smith readily sees other math possibilities in movie making, as platforms like iMovie and Windows Movie Maker all require math computations to create products. A variety of new and old movie clips come to mind that use math concepts he must teach.

By now his mind is reeling with ideas. He knows a local videographer he can call on for ideas and collaboration. He will check with the art teacher to see if she would help with storyboarding. He scans the Internet for more ideas. He knows many of of his students like sports and he could get some mileage out of the idea of sports clips.

Mr. Smith decides to give it a go. He will design a comprehensive unit of work around mathematics and movies. Pixar in a Box will play a part, but he will also design other work that draws in other standards.

By the end of the unit, his students will create a class movie on the topic “Math and the Movies: A Vital Connection.” They will answer a basic driving question: How are mathematics used in the world of movie making?

Mr. Smith opens a graphic organization program called Popplet and begins to plan out the various aspects of his design. That’s how digital collaboration, engagement, and design come together to produce engaging schoolwork.


The Engagement People


In Support of Engagement

Disclosure: The sole purpose of this blog is to generate a conversation regarding engagement in the Comments section. Please read and give us your ideas.

On August 22, 2015, the Gallup Corporation and Phi Delta Kappa, a prestigious association of professional educators, released results of a new poll of American views on the public education system. Two findings stood out to us among many: First, “A strong majority (about eight in 10) of Americans believe how engaged students are with their classwork and their level of hope for the future are very important for measuring the effectiveness of the public schools in their community.” Second, 97% of public school parents rated “improve teacher quality” as the top strategy for improving public schools from a list of five choices. No other strategy on the list garnered a rating higher than 80%.

In July of 2015, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching released a report by Susan Headden and Sarah McKay entitled Motivation Matters: How New Research Can Help Teachers Boost Student Engagement.  In this report, they conclude that,  “It is increasingly clear that the public education system needs to address student motivation far more systematically than it does today.”

In his latest book, Creative Schools, published in 2015, Sir Ken Robinson makes a strong case that the role of teachers is to “engage, inspire, and enthuse students by creating conditions in which those students will want to learn.” Sir Ken’s TED talks have ranged from 1.6 million views for “Changing Education Paradigms” to 35 million views for “Do Schools Kill Creativity?”

Apple released a free iBooks guideline for educators in June 2015 entitled Evaluating Apps for the Classroom. In this booklet, Apple suggests five guidelines for evaluating classroom digital apps: developmental appropriateness, instructional design, engagement and motivation, balance of interactive features, and accessibility.

In a 2013 book entitled OPEN: How we’ll work, live and learn in the future by David Price, these important points appear: First, “We’re becoming increasingly dissatisfied, and consequently disengaged, from the way we learn in the formal space, when measured against the open learning we do in the social space.” Second, “Engagement precedes learning: learning becomes an uphill struggle without deep absorption in a task, (what the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls being ‘in the flow’ – unaware of time passing). Learning without engagement is likely to be superficial, temporary. Engaged learning has depth and ‘stickiness’.”

On October 23, 2015, USA Today reported the results of a recent Yale University/Born This Way Foundation survey of 22,000 students. 26% of respondents reported they were bored in school. “Unless what they’re learning is engaging and interesting, they’re going to be bored — the boredom is related to the quality of instruction.”

The New Media Consortium recently published the NMC Horizon Report: 2015 K-12 Edition asking the question, “What is on the five-year horizon for K-12 schools worldwide?” According to the report’s Executive Summary, “The experts agreed on two long-term trends: rethinking how schools work in order to bolster student engagement and drive more innovation, as well as shifting to deeper learning approaches, such as project- and challenge-based learning.”

Phil Schlechty has written eight books on the topic of engagement and is widely viewed as a leading authority in America on the topic of engagement in schoolwork. For 30 years, he has posited the idea that engagement should be the core business of schools.

With all this attention on engagement, we wonder why a stronger foothold has not occurred at the policymaking level to give engagement its rightful place in the focus of public schools. What does it take for national, state, and local policymakers to listen to important data like this and act?

Please give us your thoughts by commenting below.


The Engagement People



The Animated World of Plotagon

For the past three years, the Schlechty Center has helped educators embrace the connection between digital tools and engagement in an offering called Engaging the Net Generation. Some of the more popular tools we have explored in this session are those that allow students to create animated stories. The connection between Novelty and Variety and student engagement is powerful. Students find themselves writing complex stories, summarizing literature, and creating math tutorials—all the while engaged— because of the Novelty and Variety that animation leverages.

There are a number of apps and program that facilitate this connection. For tablets like an iPad, young children will engage with apps such as Sock Puppets, Puppet Pals, Tellagami, Morfo, and ChatterKid. Older students could move on to the PC- or Mac-based GoAnimate.

All these platforms work the same. The student creates a scene with animated characters and then adds a storyline by recording or typing script.

But each of these apps has its challenges. Sock Puppets is a wonderful app. But for the free app, your characters are limited to 30 seconds of storyline. Time can be increased to 90 seconds by buying the upgrade for a very reasonable $1.99 per student. Likewise, Tellagami requires that students buy the type-to-script feature. Tellagami also is limited to soliloquoys, or one-character animations. GoAnimate used to allow unlimited 30-second animations for free. No more. The best you can get is a 14-day free trial before students are asked to buy in. To be fair to GoAnimate, they do offer a complete GoAnimate for Schools package, which is a wonderful, powerful platform—if a school can afford it.

Enter Plotagon to the rescue. Plotagon is a superb animation platform. Here is why we like it so much:

  • Plotagon is an app that can be downloaded to ANY device—PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, etc.
  • Plotagon currently gives away a lot of features for free. Everything needed to create wonderful animations is available for free including a variety of characters and scenes. We have not run into any time restrictions.
  • In Plotagon, students create script in a realistic script-writing mode. In other words, the finished text looks like any play script one might pick up and read.
  • Control over character action and emotion is a very simple process that is executed from easy-to-use drop-down menus.
  • Final animations are published on the web in individual accounts. They can also be recorded by screencasting. They can also be saved in the app and kept private without publishing. Animations can also be published to YouTube where they can be coded private or public.
  • There is a Plotagon Education option. For $99 a year for 30 students, students get full access to a wide menu of characters and scenes. Plus, all animations can be stored in a private classroom account as opposed to on the web (which is standard on the free version).

In the spirit of full disclosure, Plotagon makes their money by selling extras—extra characters and scenes. We like this approach because a fully functioning platform is available for free including many different characters and scenes. Additional purchases are optional and not required to use the platform.

So what are the challenges with Plotagon? First, using Plotagon, even offline, does require an Internet account. That can be problematic for children under 13 or in districts that restrict students from creating online accounts. However, many districts work around this with appropriate disclosure and parent permission.

A second challenge in using the free version is students may see a library of public, published plays. As is always the case with the Internet, some of these aren’t suitable for student viewing. This potential for misuse could be minimized with a classroom culture of good digital citizenship.

Digital animation is a powerful classroom tool that educators should have in their toolboxes. Many Design Qualities can be addressed through the creation of animated stories including Novelty and Variety, Product Focus, Affiliation, and Authenticity. The resultant work and products can address a lot of learning standards.

Plotagon is an exceptional animation platform that can be accessed for free or purchased as an educational app for classrooms. We hope you give it a try!

The Engagement People

Virtual Reality Made of Cardboard! Seriously Folks … Cardboard!

The following is a guest blog by Dr. Roland Rios, Ft. Sam Houston ISD, San Antonio, Texas.

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate to attend one of Google’s Texas Roadshows. It was a day-long event hosted here in San Antonio. Some incredible folks from Google conducted the event, along with our local hosts from Judson ISD. We got to hear about some future plans for Google Apps for Education, learn about the new teacher certification programs, delve deeply into the GAFE administrative console, and dialogue with other techies in the San Antonio area.

But the highlight of the day for this big ‘ol geek was the chance to play around with the new Google Cardboard. Google Cardboard is a small cardboard viewing device that allows you to immerse yourself in virtual reality. All it requires is a Google Cardboard device, a smartphone (Android or iOS), and a compatible app.

If you’ve never experienced VR, you’re in for a treat. In VR you “interact” with your environment by simply moving your head in the direction you want to view. The app responds as if you were in that location live. With Google Cardboard I was able to stand in front of the Eiffel Tower, take a look at Old Faithful, or journey through the Smithsonian!

There are a variety of Google Cardboard “endorsed” viewers to choose from. The Google Cardboard website has quite a few listed on their Get Cardboard page.  And, they’re CHEAP! Our district can buy directly from Amazon and I was able to find a slew of them there. One was listed at only $4.10! If you’re really adventurous, you can even download printable instructions and make one yourself.

Once you have one, simply go to your applicable smartphone store (Google Play Store or iTunes) and search for “Google Cardboard.” I use iOS and was able to find quite a few. Start with the “official” Google Cardboard app. Here are a few more I had some fun with:

Insidious VR – This is an immersive horror film app based on the hit film “Insidious.” Note: I am a big chicken when it comes to scary movies and I didn’t even get past the intro!

Volvo VR – Test drive a new Volvo XC90. This app really shows off the potential of VR!

Orbulus Mojo VR – This is an incredible collection of VR experiences from all around the world!

in360Tube – There are a slew of virtual reality videos on YouTube. This app helps you find them quickly. Note: The VR videos on YouTube can be played back in a variety of formats so they can work with different types of VR viewers. Tap the screen upon playback and choose the little icon that looks like Google Cardboard. Also, I noticed a glitch in the app. The search text box doesn’t always clear and the clear text button doesn’t seem to work. Just exit the program and jump back in.

Also, if you have an Android device, you can go to any location in Google Maps, go to Street View, and then double tap the icon in the lower right. It will split the screen and you can visit the location in VR using your viewer!

So the big question is … how can we use this in the classroom? I think the possibilities are limitless. Clearly, there are opportunities to take students on “field trips” to museums and historical landmarks without ever leaving the classroom. I can imagine soon apps will pop up that will allow science students to go “inside” cells or visit planets. Google is just scratching the surface!

Image by othree (Google Cardboard) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


by Ron Wright

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 12.54.39 PMWhen my kids were somewhere around seven and eleven years old, they wanted a go-kart. A few kids in the neighborhood had them and so my children wanted one. I found a used go-kart, bought a new engine for it, fixed up the seat, added new tires, and before long we were riding up and down our dead-end road.

When I think back on this experience, I am sure I was reliving my own childhood dreams and frustrations. When I was eleven, I also wanted a go-kart. In my case I was more enamored with the soapbox derby karts I had seen through scouting. However, I knew there was no way my dad was going to buy one or even build one. So I made my own. I scrounged wheels from old lawnmowers. I picked up wood scraps off local construction trash piles. I borrowed my dad’s tools. I learned a lot of physics building those childhood karts. For example, I learned that a nail was great for connecting wood to wood. I also learned that that same nail would not sustain the wear and tear of being used to hold a wheel on. In fact, nailing four wheels to a 2×4 frame and thinking they would still be there if/when you reached the bottom of a hill proved to be pure folly. I also learned that nailing a crude stick to the side of your kart to create a handbrake was more folly. I worked on these problems. In looking at pictures of go-karts, I saw they often used an axle to hold the wheels. So I sought out steel rods to hold my wheels. Unable to solve my brake design, I at least recognized the need to have room to coast to a stop.

Building go-karts was only one aspect of the “maker” nature of my childhood. Modeling was a huge aspect of my play. With money from a paper route, I bought and built many plastic models. I asked for model trains and racecar sets for Christmas and birthdays. I designed elaborate layouts, solved electrical problems, and built homemade scenery. Later I moved to model airplanes made from balsa wood that were powered by a small engine and flew in circles with control lines. I learned about fuel systems, carburetors, and different types of glue. I learned about lift and drag. I would often start with a ready-to-build kit, but soon I turned to designing my own planes. Some flew. Some just crashed. In junior high “shop” class, I learned about leatherwork, basic drafting, foundry, and woodwork … by making things. I took architecture in high school. I was embedded into a basic drafting class where I spent the entire year doing an independent study of architecture. I learned as I designed and drafted a house. As a developing musician, I maintained, repaired, and even built my own instruments. I often made things out of necessity because there was no money to buy something new. I built speakers, repaired radios, and resurrected broken guitars. Each project delivered its own new learning about physics, mechanics, electronics, woodworking, etc.

As I grew older my projects grew more mature, as did my understanding of tools and physics. By the time I graduated high school, I could maintain and repair the family car. As a young man of 30, I designed and built my own workshop from scratch.

Phil Schlechty writes that learning begins with a problem or product about which the student cares. I do not need any convincing of this. It is obvious to me. It is a self-evident truth I live and experience every day.

This learning by making things has always struggled in the factory model we call public education, where the emphasis is on memorization of facts taught via direct instruction and where students often learn concepts in the abstract. I wish I could say that my schooling was supportive of my making, but in fact, it wasn’t. I was left to tinker and form my own explanations when concepts revealed themselves through experience. If my science teacher had just pulled me aside and said, “Here are some formulas that might make your go-kart go faster,” or explained lift and pitch and yawl to me, I would have jumped to learn these things. No one ever did. Even in my junior high shop classes, we only got to make things because “all boys need shop,” not to support any project I was involved with. In fairness, my architecture teacher did give me some print resources to help me out. He really had no other choice. I was the only architecture student in a class of beginning drafters and he had no time to give me any instruction. This turned out to be a blessing as I could work to my heart’s content on my house design and consult content when I needed it.

On the bright side, there are growing movements that challenge the status quo. The Schlechty Center advocates the design of engaging work that begins with a Product Focus about which the student cares. The Schlechty Center is not alone in advocating this concept. Stanford University hosts an entire strand of learning for aspiring teachers based on concepts of design. International author and educator Yong Zhao has advanced a concept called Product-Oriented Learning in his book entitled World Class Learners. The concept of Project-Based Learning has taken a foothold in many districts across America, supported by heady entities like the George Lucas Foundation and Edutopia.

And then there is the so-called “maker movement.” Yes, that is an official title of a real-life movement that is committed to the concept that kids learn by making things. These people are very serious about children learning via Product Focus. They have the support of universities like Stanford and MIT. They merge the world of creative making and technology through the Internet of Things. They advocate for the creation and use of fabrication labs [FAB Labs] where 3D printers, computer-programmed carving machines, and robotics tools are commonplace. They have their own magazine entitled Make:.

As I travel around the country with the Schlechty Center, in talking to students I find that this learning via Product Focus is still a powerful heuristic for them. In the past, I made go-karts, models, house plans, and musical creations. For twenty-first-century students, making still includes entities like the arts, woodworking, and tinkering with cars. But technology has driven a whole new world of making that includes video games, robotics, rocketry, and computer apps, to name a very few. 3D printing has taken modeling and prototyping to a whole new level.

Exciting possibilities! Keep your eyes on them. Want to know more? Read Engaging Students by Phil Schlechty, Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom by Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager, and World Class Learners by Yong Zhao.

Digital Equity

We’re getting on our soapbox today, Kid President-style, so please forgive and indulge us.

We travel all across America working with teachers, schools, and districts. We literally go from sea to shining sea!

We see the technology scene in all its glory … and sadness. The glory is that there are many districts that have powered up. Many issue a digital device to every student. There are powerful Internet backbones to support the work. The sadness is that, unfortunately, there are still many districts in which the teacher is lucky to have one device. And in some cases, the teacher has to provide that!

Digital inequity. We ALL need to work on it. With every professional chance we get, we need to positively advocate for all students to have access to high-speed Internet via a digital device.

But in the meantime, digital inequity cannot be an excuse for not integrating technology in some way! There may be ways you haven’t even considered …

A teacher with one laptop and a cell phone can do so much to design engaging work and resources for students. With one laptop and a cell phone (you don’t even need Internet), you can create stunning videos that affirm the good work and things your students are doing. Go ahead, take out your cell phone and, over the course of a week, take pictures or short video clips of your students doing good work in school and out of school. Got students on a school sports team? Click. Band concert this week? Click! Click! Is that Sally solving a difficult math problem? Click! There’s Johnny helping a classmate with a science problem. Click! Click! Wow, Tommy just defused an argument before it became really bad news. Click! Now send them all to your laptop, throw them into a movie program, add some background music, and play it at the end of the week. Watch your students’ eyes light up. We at the Schlechty Center call that Affirmation.

Are you starting a PBL next month? Create an anchor video to kickstart the work. Make it yourself. Get in it yourself. Get your students in it.

As you move forward with this work, make a plan to expand.

For a thousand bucks, you can get five devices. Chromebooks and refurbished iPads can all be had for $200 each. So work on the money. Pull out all the stops. Tell your students’ parents that you are creating a class piggy bank to save a thousand dollars to buy five devices. Apply at Apply for every state or local source you can find. (You never know when Stephen Colbert  … ) Tell your students’ parents that the best Christmas present they can give you is a donation to the class piggy bank. Hold a bake sale. Hold a car wash. As the Kid President says, “You got air coming through your nose.  You got a heartbeat.” YOU CAN DO IT!

When those five devices arrive, a whole new world will open up—Internet or no Internet. Working in teams of four, your kids can create awesome videos. Acting out a scene from Shakespeare? Camera, Action, Take One! Science investigation? Camera, Action, Take One! Field trip? Camera, Action, Take One!

We call this a form of Product Focus, and it is a powerful heuristic device for designing engaging schoolwork.

Still no Internet? It’s time for a field trip. Design some awesome work that turns kids loose to explore and create the content you need them to learn. And if they do the work over lunch at McDonald’s (free Internet), they will probably love you for it!

Finally, take care of yourself. Get the professional development you need to do all this. If a good conference is not in the budget, get help online. The Internet is full of awesome tutorials to get you in the game. You can get a lot right here at the Engagement Connection.

As all this grows, someone will take notice. And you, the trailblazing teacher, will have used engagement to blaze a trail to digital equity. And the Kid President will say you have shown others how to “get on the path to awesome.”

Stepping down from the soapbox now. Let us know what you think about these ideas.

The Engagement People

Collaboration in a Digital World

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 12.56.07 PMIn his book Engaging Students, on page 85, Phil Schlechty addresses how teachers might organize knowledge in schoolwork. He writes, “Given the content that is to be mastered and the skills to be developed, what resources are available that bear on the subject involved? For example, what does a Web search reveal about possible sources of instruction? Are there prepared programs that reveal sensitivity to the need to create materials and approaches that place emphasis on efforts to appeal to intrinsic motives [of students]…?”

Designers of engaging schoolwork need an arsenal of resources to create work that addresses the needs, motives, and values of their students so that students will learn what they are expected to learn. To this end, technology offers an opportunity for teacher-designers to collaborate and share ideas like never before.

Every teacher could benefit from a digital cohort of fellow teachers to follow and share ideas with. And every teacher needs a way to do it in less time!

Some examples:

Martha Lackey is a second grade ESL teacher in Dallas, Texas. She blogs the highs and lows of her classroom, and in doing so, she has created a gold mine of ideas that other teachers can learn from.

Catlin Tucker is an English teacher who uses a lot of blended learning experiences in her classroom. Most recently, she had her students create their own TED Talks. Her blogs are about classroom work and products done by her students. Her site is a treasure chest of ideas.

Mike Paul is a teacher in Louisville, Kentucky. Mike loves to write about his classroom experiences and technology in general. A recent post on an Algebra lesson using PBL would help any math teacher.

Justin Lanier is a middle school teacher who leads blogs on math at In addition to being a blog about actual classroom experiences, Math Munch also explores the Internet for great ideas that can be shared.

These are four examples out of many. The point is that the Internet offers an incredible opportunity for sharing, learning, and expanding the teacher-designer’s tool case of ideas and resources.

Some readers are undoubtedly saying, “Right. I’m already trying to squeeze ten hours into an eight-hour workday and you want me to start reading five to ten blogs a day. Get a life!”

No, I don’t want you to do that.

I want you to join the greatest blog filter of all time. This filter will give you a short teaser for every teacher blog you follow. In a quick five-minute scan, you can cover ten to twenty topics, and then choose and read any that would help you. This filter will organize the teachers you follow into columns and allow you to peruse their offerings even more quickly. Without even reading the blogs that interest you, you can bookmark and save the blogs in your bookmarks file by topic. Then, when you are designing work for your kids, you can check your resource file for ideas and read only what helps you.

What is the filter’s name? Twitter and its companion: TweetDeck.

The education world is changing every day. You need access to the latest ideas to fill your tool chest without adding an hour to your workday. The Internet gives you that access. So take advantage of it!

The Engagement People


Video Editing Has Entered a New Era

EDPuzzleSome of the more powerful tools for designing engaging resources for students lie in the world of video editing. With powerful programs like Windows Movie Maker and iMovie, teachers are creating wonderful anchor videos for PBL lessons in addition to original video content to flip their classrooms or offer students Affirmation of their work. But let’s face it, we don’t always have time to get our Steven Spielberg on! You might have found a great video to use to teach an important concept, but the time just isn’t there to drop it into WMM or iMovie to edit and add the necessary components you want to stress. In addition, the copyright world is downright confusing and the very idea of downloading an existing video and editing it is scary.

Enter EDpuzzle. This programs allow for quick video trimming on the front and back end. This means you can essentially make a video shorter, start the video anywhere you want, or cut a clip out of a video. But where EDpuzzle really rocks is here: a teacher can pause the video to add audio comments and questions! These tools allow a teacher to increase clarity in a video which may address a student’s need for Clear and Compelling Product Standards. This feature also allows a teacher to modify and organize a video’s content in a manner that may address a student’s needs regarding Organization of Knowledge.

Think about it. Lots of research says that students engage with video content. If you have confirmed that with your own students, a program like EDpuzzle allows you to edit a video with text or audio and emphasize key points. And unlike creating a video from scratch, EDpuzzle is a very quick process.

EDpuzzle also has impressive student data tracking. There is a classroom panel so that teachers can easily see how and what students do. Students enroll in the class with a simple classroom code, like in Edmodo. Students can enroll with no personal information; they don’t even have to give a full name.

EDpuzzle is a quick and powerful tool for addressing multiple Design Qualities in the classroom.

Here is an example in EDpuzzle using audio and multiple-choice quiz features. The learning objective is to develop a working definition of student engagement. A great video from Phil Schlechty addressing this content already exists online. Now, look what can be done with that video in EDpuzzle!

We hope you enjoy working with EDpuzzle.

The Engagement People