Change a Word: Grab Attention?

Little things can grab someone’s attention. I recently read an article by John Waters Engaging Students with Active Learning where he stated that you can increase student interest in your class just by adding the word EXTREME to the title. His example was “Weather and Climate” to “Extreme Weather.” Amazing. It really does grab your attention a bit more, doesn’t it?

I’ve been working on doing something similar to one of my courses – Technology for Teachers. I’m not adding Extreme to the title, but I have been “gamifying” it by changing some of the vocabulary and offering more choice. Sometimes the thought of technology in the classroom, especially to a new teacher, can be a bit scary.

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So I’ve added a few elements to the course to peak curiosity. I am asking students to defeat the techno monster through Experience Points (XP – commonly known as points). I show them how to not only survive the course, but how to thrive in it through a set of choice quests (assignments). I believe by changing just a few terms in the class, it will heighten student interest. Alice Keeler has written a lot about how to gamify a classroom and although I am not going all out, I am trying to change a few elements, such as course vocabulary, to create interest.

Want to learn a little more? Check out some of these resources!

Gamification in the Classroom

Mr. Matura Musings


Gamification in Higher Education

A Gamified Approach to Teaching and Learning

5 Easy Steps


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Typing, Simplified

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Office Lens can be a life-saver! I wish I had known this yesterday. My son wrote a paper for his college English class. Long story short, his computer crashed. Luckily, he had a paper version already printed out. Bad news – the professor wanted the digital version to turn in through Turnitin. So, he spent the evening re-typing his paper.

I stumbled upon Office Lens just this morning and wish I would have known then what I know now! On first appearance, Office Lens is similar to a scanner. But it does more than just scan – it actually converts the digital copy to a Word or PowerPoint document that can be edited with amazing accuracy!

To test it out, I took a picture of this page from The Power of Our Words by Paula Denton, EdD using Office Lens:

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It then took this image and created a Word document, complete with formatting, that I could edit on my iPad or computer. (Don’t worry – I won’t edit this amazing book!)

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Pretty awesome, right? You can even take a picture of a whiteboard and it will trim the edges, clean up the glare and shadows, then allow you to open it up in Word, PowerPoint, or save as a PDF to OneDrive.

There are many scanning apps out there, but the flattening effect of this one is great.

Integrating Technology with Project Based Learning… Four Indicators to Blend the Learning

Read this great post by 21st Century Educational Technology and Learning on PBL and Technology. Make sure you check out the SAMR link as well!

21 st Century Educational Technology and Learning


Welcome to this April post designed to look at the idea of technology and PBL. In my work at the BUCK Institute (BIE). I am often asked about the relationship of PBL and technology. This post is designed to give you my best reflection as to how they can work together. Also, be on the look out for my next few series… entitled the ABC’s of PBL and Deeper Learning, Going Beyond the Tech Shine,  and also… 40 great education sites to discover in 2015. First, to ensure you do not miss a valuable post or other resources covering PBL, Digital Curriculum, Web 2.0, STEM, 21st century learning, and technology integration, please sign up for 21centuryedtech by email or RSS. As always, I invite you to follow me on twitter (@mjgormans). Please give this post a retweet and pass it on. Have a great week – Michael Gorman (21centuryedtech)

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Everyone Needs Encouragement

Life has its struggles.

I know that my student teachers  work really hard. They are exhausted. I was trying to think of a creative way to encourage them. I decided to send some encouraging words – on a photo…because…I enjoy a photo with text!

I downloaded PicLab HD to test.  They offer a beautiful selection of artwork and overlays to add to photos. Not only that, I enjoy the handwritten font choices. It was quick and easy.

Here is the finished product:


Short, Sweet Stories

Life is full of stories…

  • funny
  • sad
  • instructional
  • etc.

I love Prezi’s newest app – Nutshell. Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 8.03.36 AM

It is so SIMPLE to use and turns your pictures into a short, sweet story to share with others.

All you do is snap 3 pictures, add captions, choose graphics and press play.

Nutshell turns it into an awesome video which can be shared through messaging, email, or social media.

I tested it out yesterday, not really knowing what I was doing…

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Click picture

This morning I tried another one with my breakfast! I’m having fun with this one!

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Oh yes, you’ll love this app! Think about how you could use it in the classroom…portfolio samples, student work, projects, short story, capture student attention … be creative!

DOWNLOAD from iTunes ~ for FREE!

Best New Apps for April!

Yes, there are some great new apps and web sites out there just in time for spring!

1. Have you seen Google’s Smartbox by Inbox? It’s a mixture of physical mail and the inbox:

Click here to read more about it!

2. #Chromeselfie – Show your friends how you feel about articles!

3. Wiffi – A new way to connect to wifi.

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4. The NEW Google search tool – try it out!

5. Amazon Dash – You’ll never run out of laundry soap again. Just press and it will be shipped to you from Amazon!

I hope you enjoyed these new products! And oh yes, Happy April 1st!

Global Leadership Summit – Speaker List!

By far, the best leadership event I have attended is the Global Leadership Summit. I began attending a few years ago and each year it gets better and better. This year’s speaker list has just been released!

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It is transformational!

Bill Hybels: Best-selling author of more than 20 books including Simplify, Courageous Leadership and Leadership Axioms.

Sallie Krawcheck: Named number 9 on Fast Company’s list of the “100 Most Creative People 2014”

Adam Grant: The youngest tenured professor at Wharton. Named one of BusinessWeek’s favorite professors and one of the world’s 40 best business professors under 40.

Brian Houston: Senior pastor of Australia-based Hillsong Church

Ed Catmull: Five Academy Awards including the Gordon E. Sawyer Award for a lifetime of contributions and leadership in the field of computer graphics for the motion picture industry.

Sam Adeyemi: Founder of Daystar Leadership Academy, which is dedicated to releasing a new generation of leaders who will serve as catalysts in the transformation of Africa and the world.

Sheila Heen: Authored two New York Times bestsellers, including her most recent, Thanks for the Feedback, which helps leaders improve their ability to receive feedback.

Jim Collins: Authored or co-authored six books on leadership that have sold more than ten million copies worldwide.

Albert Tate: Combines biblical challenge with humor and is a sought-after guest speaker at universities and churches across the United States.

Horst Schulze: CEO of Capella Hotel Group; inspires client loyalty by raising the bar for customer service.

and a personal favorite Dr. Brene’ Brown: Her 2010 TEDx Houston talk, The Power of Vulnerability, is one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world ; wrote Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection.

Make sure you register now and use the referral code 15FrndNS-4929

Jazz Up Google Slides!

Tired of the same Google slide templates? Google slides is a great choice when wanting to increase student collaboration – but the templates offered are a bit limiting. Slide Carnival offers free templates for Google slides! Choices include inspiration, playful, and even professional!

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Once you choose your new template, how about finding pictures that already are student safe and have an automatic citation with every download? The images are Creative Commons licensed for school use. Yes! You will feel like this:


6 Do’s for Social Media so You Don’t Create a Nightmare!

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Seriously. I can’t believe I need to write this post.

I thought most teachers understood social media do’s and don’ts. But I am finding they don’t. Really? Okay. Here it goes.

Teachers – you are in a unique position. While many some people feel they can post anything on social media that they want, don’t do it! This is especially true for teachers. According to Mike Simpson’s post on NEA,  “Newspapers across the country have begun trolling social networking sites for embarrassing and titillating postings by local teachers.”

Want a way to be fired from your teaching job? Don’t use your brain and post your uncensored thoughts or pictures to social media.

In the past 2 years, I have witnessed 3 different teacher friends post “without really thinking through it” on Facebook:

  • One continually posted classroom pictures with no parental permission
  • One posted an example of poor student work (with the name left on the paper)
  • One posted on Facebook during work hours, left the laptop open, students got a hold of it and posted atrocities about the teacher on the teacher’s home page

Don’t want the past to come back and haunt you? Then don’t put it out there. We tell our teacher candidates to “clean up” their social networks if necessary because many schools will look at accounts to find out about new hires.

  1. THINK first. “Both Twitter and Facebook keep logs of every instance of online activity – every post, message, interaction, like, friend, comment etc. If there’s anything inappropriate, it will have been recorded and logged. But as well as clearly demonstrating what a user has done, the logs will clearly indicate and prove what hasn’t been done online.”  e-Safety Report Understand that what you do online is like doing it in public. 
  2. Check your own privacy settings. This guide will teach you about privacy basics for Facebook. Privacy settings will HELP prevent others from seeing your posts, but NOT PREVENT other from seeing posts. If it is out there, it leaves a footprint. We call this the digital footprint.
  3. Model good digital citizenship for your students. We try to teach our students about cyber-bullying and good digital citizenship, right? Then model it. 
  4. Check your school’s policy regarding social media. 
  5. Change your passwords often. Make sure that you do not become a target of identity theft. Here is a site that may help you.
  6. Do your own research.  Keep up with education and social media and understand what you should and shouldn’t do. I am not going to take the time to list everything teachers should and shouldn’t do. There’s just too much! So read up on what is out there. Edutopia is always a great resource.

Social media can be used as an educational tool to create and share knowledge. It’s great to be able to post and share ideas, videos, and resources. Just be wise. Use your noodle brain. Think. Many schools will want teachers to use a student-safe site such as Edmodo. Edmodo is a wonderful social media option for school that gives teachers control over content. There are even school district accounts so schools are under one secure network.

Please share this with your teacher friends. Have more helpful hints? Post your comments and ideas!

Frames Just for Fun!

This site is simply fun. Frame is a web site that will take any photo and place it into a scene for free! It takes four easy steps:

  1. Choose your scene (all technology related)
  2. Upload a screenshot or photo…or enter the URL of a site you want to showcase!
  3. Adjust the cropping
  4. Download the photo! (Or share via Facebook or Twitter)

That’s it!

Here are some scenes I’ve tested:


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And, just for fun…I tried my own picture!