I recently won a couple of giveaways…fun!  I enjoy winning. Do you? Well, I decided to have a giveaway of my own to not only drive traffic to WJU EdTech Blog but to also gather information on how others engage students in their classroom. I will be speaking on the topic in the future, and would love to hear what others do to engage and motivate students.

I will be giving away a $10 Starbucks card OR $10 Peet’s card (your choice).

You will need to CLICK HERE to access the giveaway page, then come back to this site to comment. Thanks and good luck!

Engage Your Students with Choice

One strategy teachers can use to engage students is to offer them a sense of choice. I learned this early on with parenting and teaching K-12. For example, as a parent I could offer a choice, “Would you rather vacuum or take out the garbage?” When I taught 4th grade, I would often teach units such as “Oceanography” and offer choices for how they would present their work…group poster, act out a news report, create a mini video, etc. Offering choices to our students offers them a sense of control. Students who believe they have control tend to be more motivated. By offering choice, students choose what they believe they can achieve. This will increase motivation.

Kevin Perks’ article Crafting Effective Choices to Motivate Students discusses the kinds of choices we should offer students such as choosing groups and how they will complete a given task. He also suggests to offer a minimal amount of choices. The list should be short, meet with your approval, and meet the intended learning goal.

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Here is a screenshot from one of the courses I teach in the education department. Notice there is an assignment, then a menu of choices and an optional dessert. I realize not all students will “want” dessert – but dessert is usually really good, right? The “dinner menu” offers 3 choices for the assignment…one that involves sketchnoting , one that adds to their resource binder (a required project), and one that adds to their own professional development plus it will go in the resource binder. All three choices will help them explore reading and writing workshops. I am allowing them a choice how to complete the exploration. The student who likes to take notes on reading assignments and is a strong visual learner will enjoy the sketchnoting. The student that wants to get ahead on the final project will appreciate adding to the resource binder. These printouts can be used later on in the teaching career. The student that is tech-savvy and enjoys social media will enjoy the Pinterest assignment. It also helps them complete the final project and add to ideas for their future teaching career – thus adding validity of future value to the assignment.

As the instructor, have I added to my own work load by having to grade 3 different types of assignments? Perhaps. But to me it really doesn’t matter. What matters most is what will benefit the student and I believe that choice is an important aspect.

As an elementary teacher, I often used the “Tic-Tac-Toe” board assignment. I fill in the spots with choices, and students have to choose 3 to complete – in a row or diagonal.

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Here are a few more resources you may enjoy regarding student choice:

Guidelines for Offering Choices

Supporting Autonomy in the Classroom

When Choice Motivates and When it Does Not

Motivating Students to Learn

Liven Up Your Lessons by Offering Choice


Stay on Top with ClassOwl

“Imagine if YOUR students always came to class prepared.” ~ClassOwl

I recently ran across a new tool called ClassOwl.  It was created by a group of Stanford sophomores desiring to improve the challenge of  organizing class deadlines and assignments. “Our  vision is that students will come to school knowing exactly what they need to do for class, and as a result come engaged, prepared, and ready to learn. By becoming better learners, we envision that every student will make the most of their education!” Isn’t that what we want for our students? Yes! I was able to get on the “early bird list” as an instructor and am excited to test it out in my courses.  As an instructor, I signed up and input my class deadlines and due dates. It was a bit of prep work, but if students enjoy it, it will be worth my time. The interface is clean and easy to use.

One nice feature of ClassOwl is the ability to update assignments easily and instantly inform students of the change or update. “Whether  your students are looking at their phone, online, or any other device — you’ll be able to reach them instantly. You can update assignments or due dates, and students will immediately receive a push notification letting them know of the change right then and there. A great reminder for students who missed the announcement in class or for last minute changes, ClassOwl keeps your students up-to-date.”  There is a comment functionality for students so that they may easily ask questions regarding the assignment. Best of all – it is free!

I will be interested to see how many of my students will utilize this tool. I will offer it – but not as a requirement. We do use Moodle and all of our deadlines are on Moodle. Some students may not want to view the assignments on another tool or app. However, others may like the ability to have push notifications for due dates. They may also enjoy the comment/question feature. So, I’ll test it out!  I see the REAL advantage with entire schools using the tool because students can see all the due dates for ALL classes in one calendar. That would be nice for many students!

10 Things Every Teacher Should be able to do on Google Docs

This blog was written by Indiana Jen. We have Google training on campus tomorrow and I couldn’t have said this any better myself. Thanks, Jen, for the post! I am sharing with my readers! Enjoy. Pam.

Indiana Jen

Google Docs is a powerful word processing tool that many schools have adopted. As it’s similar to Microsoft Word and other word processing tools, most of its features are intuitive to use. However, in addition to completing many of the functions of a traditional word processor, Google Docs provides even more capabilities that can be invaluable to educators. Here are ten tricks that can make your life easier with Google Docs:

Share & Collaborate with Google Docs

One of the most powerful features of Google Docs is that you can share and collaborate on documents with others. Think about all the times where you work on something at home and then email it to yourself at school or put it on a thumb drive. How about the challenge of students who “forgot their essays” or couldn’t print their homework? Not only does Drive solve this, but it also opens up…

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My 3 Words

My 3 Words


If I asked you to choose 3 words to focus on this year – for what is left of it – what words would you choose?  I thought about it myself and chose joy, innovative, and balance. I’ll share with you why.

Joy:  I’ve really tried to focus on this one since New Year’s. It’s not always easy to be joyful – but as a follower of Christ, there is a verse that says, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”  I may not always feel joyful, but knowing God always has my back makes me joyful. His strength gives me joy. I am choosing joy.

Back in January I decided to try to “spread a smile” each day to someone new. It’s hard to do sometimes. But when I focus on giving a smile to someone else, it brings joy. Yes, it does! Try it. Next time you are down, do something kind for someone else. Give a smile to someone who needs it. It will take your eyes off your own problem and bring joy to someone else and to you.

Innovative:  I battled with this word. Part of me wanted to choose “creative” and part of me wanted to choose “innovative”. They work great hand-in-hand. As a fan of and Design Thinking, I want to make sure I remain creative and innovative. While creativity is about “unleashing the potential in your mind“, innovation can be measured. It is taking that creativity and unleashing it into innovation. I am constantly thinking of ways to be innovative to improve my own teaching practice, student learning, and productivity on our campus. I still need to work on this one.

Balance: I am a strong believer in living a balanced life. I make a point of prioritizing all aspects of my life. Physical, mental, spiritual, social – they all need to balance.  I even try to remain balanced with my nutrition. I make time to ride my bike after work. I make time to relax. I make time to have my smartphone put away and focus on the relationship near me.  I have learned to say no to answering non-essential work email from home. If you struggle with work vs. home life, take time to consider why and the ramifications of letting one take over the other.

I’d love for you to comment with your 3 words! What would you choose?

Home from Africa!

I’m happy to be home safe and sound from our mission to Ilha de Mozambique – a small island off the east coast of Africa. It was hard yet amazing.  I posted about “Traveling with Tech” right before I left and wanted to let you know how it went!

Ilha de Mozambique has limited Internet service. It was on and off again about the entire time which meant it was difficult to post. But – I did get it to work by posting text rather than pictures. Pictures are much more fun! I posted all my content to Evernote and it was automatically forwarded to where it posted to our blog. I found that it was a great way to post! I am able to keep my notes from the trip in Evernote, yet share the notes in a blog format for followers. Again, I wasn’t able to post pictures like I had planned – but I was thankful that I had limited access! was very helpful with their tech support as well.  Visit the blog at .  If you are planning a trip this summer, this would be a great way to share about your trip with others!

Here are a few pics to enjoy:

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Lee went sailing in this boat during our “beach” day.

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“Stone Town” built by the Portuguese. Gorgeous!
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Where we stayed.

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Beautiful colors!

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Neighbor baby! 🙂

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Giant prawns! Seriously – the size of lobster tails!

So – today I am back to work. And what was awaiting me?

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That’s right! A new Chromebook! Cool. I am excited to test it out and see how it will work for training purposes. I know that Chromebooks are used in education and it is important to understand how they work — including apps available. Many schools in our area, including Rocklin and Roseville school districts are purchasing Chromebooks to use with students and teachers. Stay tuned in for more information!