Citing Social Media Sources

Recently I read an article on Teach Thought about the proper way to use social media as a source when conducting research. I was intrigued to see that there was actually a format setup for both APA and MLA style formats for how to reference social media.

The chart for this:


The display of these sources seems to work in line with the associated format and publication style mentioned. The article details how APA has setup a style guide associated with using social media sources and offers it to the public for a small fee, but MLA hasn’t expressly released a style guide associated with social media sources.

I wanted to take a look at whether or not individuals who are writing scholarly articles should be considering the usage of social media within their research. I’m to understand there is no differentiation with respect to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, etc. and that all social media could in theory be used for research purposes, only if a few are mentioned in the chart.

I wanted to take a look at the pros and cons of using social media sources from the perspective of scholarly journal writing.


  • Social media offers the most recent resources you can find. Often when conducting research this is one of the primary concerns of publications, that an article features more recent references than a collection of older literature.
  • Social media is always on. You always have access to social media, as long as you have an internet connection through your phone or computer. You don’t have to worry about a database being down for maintenance in the way you might in other search situations.
  • Social media offers more content than any other search tool. Every second on social media thousands of posts are being created and published. Journals on the other hand will be published, at best, once a month and only feature a handful of articles.
  • Social media offers a wide range of opinions. In the internet age individuals are more able to express themselves. If you are studying a certain topic you may find a more wide array of opinions on social media than you would through journals, textbooks and more traditional norms.


  • Anyone can get on social media. I know a friend’s daughter who is two and knows how to use YouTube quite well. There is nothing to stop her from publishing a comment on YouTube if her mother is logged in. What this boils down to is that the sources on social media may not be vetted as they would be through a review of a publication.
  • Accuracy may not exist on social media. Since everyone is able to produce content on social media you may find that there are multiple opinions on the same topic all claiming to be factual.
  • Social media offers more content than any other search tool. While this is a pro, it is also a con. It will take a keen eye and a lot of time to sift through the extensive content published on social media. Your search terms have to be perfect for everything to work for you. Too broad a search results in too many results, but too specific a search results in no results.
  • Using social media as a source for research has not been studied, so it is difficult to determine how successful using social media sources might be or if there is any adverse impacts from using social media as resource when conducting research.


In browsing YouTube I found an in depth video that discusses using social media for research and ties in to many factors.


Overall, my view point at this time is that it may be far more productive to use social media to promote your research than it would be to conduct it.

MS OFFICE, Open Office or Google Docs?

When I was in high school the only option for word processing, spreadsheets, etc. was using Microsoft Office. Many years have gone by and new competitors are emerging that could potentially eliminate MS OFFICE from the classroom altogether in the future.

This blog post will examine the pros and cons of MS OFFICE, Open Office and Google Docs with respect to how they can be used within the classroom for the most efficiency.



  • MS OFFICE is a well established brand
  • MS OFFICE has countless databases and resources that can be used for troubleshooting purposes
  • Microsoft is run by Bill Gates who wants to improve education
  • Microsoft gives bulk deals to school districts purchasing licenses
  • MS OFFICE has been most commonly used with most students growing up


  • MS OFFICE is an expensive product
  • School districts may not need all aspects of MS OFFICE, but it is actually cheaper to purchase packages with multiple software programs than purchasing one program at a time
  • Newer and younger students are not being introduced to MS OFFICE any more

Open Office:


  • Open Office is FREE
  • Open Office features similar products to MS OFFICE [Writer vs. Word, Calc vs. Excel, Impress vs. PowerPoint]
  • Open Office allows you to use the same file extensions as Google Docs and MS OFFICE
  • Open Office has strong support like MS OFFICE with various resources available


  • Not everyone has Open Office. If you save a file with an Open Office extension and try to open it on another computer you will need to install Open Office on that computer.
  • Open Office requires you to download a language pack if you’re not an English speaker/writer
  • Open Office has a forum that is currently unstable at this time

Google Docs:


  • Google Docs is FREE for anyone with a Google account
  • Google Docs, like Open Office, offers programs similar to MS OFFICE programs
  • Google Docs offers Forms making it perfect for educational use
  • Google Docs is a great tool for collaboration
  • Google Docs is currently being presented in the classroom the way MS OFFICE used to be
  • Google Docs features many Add Ons


  • Google Docs, like most Google products, have limited help resources. Most of the help resources for Google Docs have been published by users of Google Docs.
  • Google Docs privacy settings must be setup correctly to prevent unauthorized usage
  • Google Docs settings need to be setup correctly for successful collaboration

My Overall Summary:

I have used all three of these products at one point or another. The major plus I see for MS OFFICE is that it is still on nearly every computer on the market today, including in libraries and school districts. The major drawback is that MS OFFICE is very expensive and since a new version comes out often at times it seems as though it isn’t worth paying more for the newer version.

I truthfully see myself using Open Office and Google Docs more and more. Open Office is great tool for me since it is essentially a free version of MS OFFICE. The only issue is that it is only on one of my laptops, so if I save a file in Open Office extensions I have to make sure I modify the file on the laptop that has Open Office. Not a big deal, but something to consider.

I find Google Docs is probably the best tool to use for collaboration, especially for coursework. So long as you have a Google account you can invite who can edit documents with you and leave it at that. Google Docs also features Forms which are perfect for use in various classroom situations and numerous Add Ons work well with Google Docs. This allows me and many others to complete various tasks right within Google Docs.

I feel in the upcoming years MS OFFICE will become a thing of the past and Google Docs will likely take over. Google Docs will just need to build a database/pool of resources for usage like Open Office and MS OFFICE have to be the undisputed king.

Hour of Code – iPad Resources

December 8-14th is Computer Science Education Week. During this week, students around the world are encouraged to learn more about coding and computer science through the Hour of Code.

There are several tutorials students can work through online, offline, and with mobile devices.  Below we will briefly discuss a three of the free resources you can add to your classroom iPad this week.


Daisy and Dinosaur

This is the perfect app for students in the lower grades (PreK – 2nd).  The goal is to program Daisy by selecting various commands.  You can play either Free Mode or Challenge Mode.




With this app, you have to teach the robot how to move crates. Again, the students have to create a program the robot, which can be harder than it sounds. Like most games, you the puzzles get harder and harder as you progress.




Hopscotch is a good app for upper elementary students (3rd-6th). Students create a program by selecting a variety of commands. There are some in-app purchases, but the app itself is free.


Although these three apps seem simple, it begins to introduce students (at a young age) to the world of programming/coding.  I hope these three resources make your Hour of Code event even more enjoyable this week!

Six Projects To Create, Communicate, Collaborate

Six Projects To Create, Communicate, Collaborate

Guest blogger:   Dr. Howie ( Howie DiBlasi)


(Thank you to Bookworks for the use of image)

I’m always interested in finding new ways to learn quickly and efficiently. It’s important to get the most educational value out of my time as possible. I think that applies to our students as well.

One method is to use Digital tools and projects that are models for driving education change.  We can transform our educational institutions into model learning environments that cater to the broadest range of users by using collaboration tools.

There are three parts to the project to make it successful.

  1. Create
  2. Communicate
  3. Collaborate

The projects below allow students to learn 21st Century skills and prepare them to meet the demands of the global community and engage them in mastering core curriculum skills.


There are many opportunities for educators to bring the right brain activities into the classroom. I believe that I.B.L.(Inquiry Based Learning) is one of the best and innovative approaches. In case you are not familiar with it the role of the student and teacher change. The students assume increasing responsibility for their learning, and it provides students more motivation and more feelings of accomplishment, setting the pattern for them to become successful life-long learners. The teacher becomes the resource, tutor, and evaluator, guiding the students in their problem solving efforts.

The following projects allow students to learn 21st Century skills and prepare them to meet the demands of the global community and engage them in mastering core curriculum skills. All of the projects can be completed in a short amount of class time.


Let’s look at how to get started with “Digital Tools” that allow us to create content communicate, and collaborate.



  1. This I Believe

An international project engaging people in writing, sharing, and discussing the core values that guide their daily lives. These short statements of belief, help students understand the concept of belief, explore their own values, and refine them into a well-written essay. Projects can be created using writing, pod casting or slides to demonstrate proficiency.

Instructors can create a Blog to allow students to post the statements and provide connection to other students as they read.


2. The Best Part of Me

Provides an opportunity for students to identify a positive physical feature of themselves and then work in pairs to take part in an online writer’s workshop. Students create a descriptive poem about their favorite feature, create a digital photo of the physical feature and then create a Photo Story Frame about their favorite feature. The last section allows them to upload the photo and record the audio of their poem on VoiceThread about their favorite feature. Projects can be created using writing, pod casting or slides to demonstrate proficiency.


  1. Five Frames

Allows a student to tell a Story in 5 Frames (photos). Students must create and tell a story through visual means with only a title to help guide the interpretation. They can use iPhoto, Windows Photo Story or Animoto to create the projects, add instrumental music and then upload it to YouTube , Voice Thread or Animoto.


  1. This Is My Country

Allows students from around the world tell about their lives, families and communities to create a children’s contributory website. It is dedicated to the development of global education by the promotion of: intercultural understanding; language learning; internationalism; and collaboration. The My Country project enables everyone to extend our intercultural and international understanding and gain insight into the differences in their lives.


  1. The Way We Are: People and Culture

This project assists students in discovering how they are similar and different from students in another country. Research skills are developed to locate the students physical and climate differences in their region and then discuss and communicate with another students about the affect the culture has in another part of the world. The project utilizes ePals. Free e-mail system to connect around the world. The goals of the project are to:

  • be able to compose well-written emails to their ePals.
  • concretely describe specific details of their lives.
  • identify similarities and differences between themselves and their ePals.
  • give specific examples of what it means to be from a different culture.


The culminating activity allows the students to create a digital presentations about themselves and their ePals reflecting an increased understanding of the differences and commonalities between their cultures, their environments and their lives. Connections are made via Video Conference to share the projects.

6. My Town

Students will obtain lyrics from the song “ My Town” by Montgomery Gentry. A Photo Story, PowerPoint or iPhoto will be created to tell about the student’s town that they live in. Connections about the community, schools, people, government, families, children, intercultural, environment will be demonstrated in digital photos.   Contact will be made with the songwriter to obtain permission to use the song in the student presentation.   Students will insert photos, add music, provide copyright credit, determine timing, visual effects and show the final project for evaluation.



Teaching communication skills often challenges educators. With today’s students communicating via social media we need to incorporate new ways to communicate.

I.S.T.E. has included communication skills as part of the N.E.T.S for students. The standards support the use of use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, locally and at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others. The standards promote communication and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats


Students should learn to work with others on a task. Collaboration is an essential part of their academic life. To foster life long learning skills they need to communicate with others and learn how to work as part of a team. While much teamwork takes place face to face, it is becoming increasingly common to work with others via electronic media such as e-mail, Video-conferencing and file sharing.

With resources tighter than ever, and tight budgets we need to utilize the free resources and application that are available for our schools. I have recourses listed on my web site of over 100 presentations, resources, free software and applications for schools to utilize. Check out:


Follow me on Twitter @hdiblasi







Instagram Instruction

Prior to August 2014 I was hesitant to use Instagram for any purpose. I’m not the selfie type or really even like taking pictures. But I noticed a lot of my friends were using Instagram and had great looking pictures. So in late August 2014 I finally joined. At the moment I seem to be using it in the same manner a lot my friends are: showcasing pictures of our canine chums and our food/beverage interests. I use Twitter in the classroom and wondered if I could use Instagram in the classroom as well.

If you use Instagram in a different way, tell us about it in the comments!

Student Based Ideas:
Featuring student work is ideal with Instagram. Not only does it allow you to have a record of great student products, but it allows you to display it to other classes, parents, etc. This will likely encourage greater production if students know their work will be viewed by other eyes. The student work doesn’t have to be specifically visually aesthetic items. A great poem is just as worthy as a great picture.

Featuring a student of the week is another great way to have a productive classroom Instagram, while encouraging students to do their best. The student of the week can send out pictures of where the sit, their favorite aspects of the classroom and much more. There should be some criteria in place to determine the student of the week for these purposes.

Students can interact with their classmates in a way they did not before. They will have more to talk about now that they the creativity of their classmates. Featuring student work allows classmates to learn more about each other such as hobbies and interests.

Teacher Based Ideas:
Since you’re presenting student work and providing students with a platform to express themselves it is also a good idea to chronicle what they’ve done. You could make a collage for each student using sites like You could make an end of school year timeline for each student using Dipity. With either choice you can document all of the wonderful things your students did all year.

You can also capture important moments for the students. Things like field trips should be remembered. Things like graduation should be recorded! These items, if student specific, can also be added to their display of progress.

Remind students of reading assignments. Send a picture of the book you’re reading and include the page numbers that need to be read before the next class meeting. This gives students an interactive reminder of what they need to do.

In this same regard Instagram can be used for all homework reminders. Need to remind students a worksheet is due tomorrow? Send it out with a reminder in the description. You can do the same for anything: book report, homework problems, PowerPoint assignment, essay, etc.

While there are items out there like Remind101 administrators often frown upon text messaging type reminder systems, so use Instagram. Send out reminders about class trips, end of marking period, school closings due to holidays and delays/closings associated with inclement weather. This can also be used for sports and clubs.

You should also use your classroom Instagram account to send out encouragement. There are a lot of standardized tests these days, so make sure to encourage students via inspirational items you can find or create.

Finally, I think I will use Instagram to assign some fun homework or extra credit. NOTE: Students must be 13 years of age or older to join, so this may only be plausible in a high school setting. I would provide a visual prompt for students and expect them to synthesize the prompt and create an articulate response. I would encourage net etiquette so there are no arguments in the responses.

For additional ideas check out this neat YouTube video:

Bell Ringers and Do Nows for the 21st Century

Over the course of the past decade it is no secret that there is more technology, especially educational technology available than ever before. Some aspects of technology have made our lives easier, while some others have made it harder to “teach the basics.” For example, anyone charged with the task of finding information will often “just Google it.”

But using technology for Bell Ringers or Do Nows, or whatever you happen to call them could be an interesting way to keep students’ attention from the start of class. NOTE: This can only be executed within a classroom where all students have an available desktop or equivalent to access the specific websites needed.

The First way to create an interactive Do Now via educational technology is TodaysMeet

To create your own room go to and you’ll see the following:

You will be able to name your meeting room whatever you like (note below you will be told where an abbreviated URL link is located once you create your room). You have the following options for how long your room can remain open: 1 hour, 2 hours, 8 hours, one day, one week, one month and one year. You will see that one week is the default option. You may want to create a room for each class period since everyone should be expected to reply. Your time parameters however are entirely up to you.

Then you click Create Your Room and enter your name. Once you’ve done this enter the information you need answered for your Do Now and have students enter the room to provide their responses. The students will also have to enter their name, so you can identify them and give them credit for their responses.

For our purposes I created an example at which is scheduled to disappear in a week, so I will provide graphics below of what I’m talking about.


To enter your message type it into the blue box and click the Say button. Bear in mind you may only use 140 characters when typing. Also note only those individuals provided with the link to your “meet” should have access to it.

The web address with the Copy button next to it provides you with an abbreviated URL for your specific TodaysMeet interaction.

When clicking transcript you end up with something like this:

When clicking projector you end up with something like this:

Transcript displays everything relevant to what is provided and the projector places emphasis on the words.

The Second way to create an interactive Do Now via educational technology is TitanPad

TitanPad offers two distinct options for educators. First, is to create a public pad. Second, is to create your own private pad through a subdomain.

With the public pad you will see something like this:
There will be a link at the top of the browser provided for you to share with the class. Each individual enters their name on the top right, then can chat in the bottom right section.

The actual pad in the middle can be edited by anyone in the class so it is necessary to keep your eyes on the TitanPad at all times to make sure students are actively engaged in what they need to be doing.

The private pad link above sends you to the following:
Enter a subdomain that is easy to remember and related to your course. Fill in your full name and finally provide your email. Password instructions are mailed to the email address you provided.

Click the link provided in the email sent by TitanPad. Once you do so you will see a screen that looks like this:
Create your password as requested.

You will then be brought to a “news” section with a button that states “create new pad” on the right. Create a pad and you will see it looks exactly like the one created for the public pad, but you have more controls available for it.

To get back to your created private TitanPad for future use type in the URL you created – and you’ll receive a login screen that looks like this:

The benefits of using the private TitanPad are that you can make a different pad for every exercise you intend to use it for, within your own personal subdomain. For the public TitanPad you will have to go and create a new one every time, but with the private pad you can store all used TitanPads to look at later or potentially use again to serve as a reminder for students.

NOTE: These items can just as easily be used within the business world for collaborating information, but for these purposes I’ve pointed out their use within a classroom pertaining to Bell Ringers/Do Nows at the start of a classroom period to actively engaged students.

Originally posted at Mind of Marino

Peachtree vs. QuickBooks

Within the world of business education Accounting courses are a delicate topic to discuss. Some school districts offer a number of sequential Accounting courses, while other schools offer no Accounting courses whatsoever. Many people always note how it is important to get the basics down, but in Accounting courses sometimes this is overlooked. Accounting courses used to feature detailing the basics by going over everything by hand, such as ledgers. Now in some schools there has been a paradigm shift towards using software for Accounting purposes, essentially teaching how to use a particular program, rather than actually teaching Accounting. Within school districts I’ve seen Intuit QuickBooks as the primary program used, but most accountants have told me Sage Peachtree now known as Sage 50 is what is actually used in the field of accounting (ie what the pros use).

The dilemma is, in a world where PARCC is being implemented, do we continue to ride with the status quo or do all aspects of academia move towards preparing for college and career? The status quo would be to continue using Intuit QuickBooks, while moving towards preparing individuals for a career in Accounting would be to switch over to Sage Peachtree now known as Sage 50.

The intention of this blog post is not to discredit the usage of either of these programs in an Accounting classroom, but rather to explore their differences and similarities so that our readers may make informed decisions on which product will work best in your Accounting classroom. We will mention cost of the products here, but that often depends on number of licenses that are purchased and any discount the respective companies will provide.


Intuit QuickBooks
The biggest positive about Intuit QuickBooks is that it offers a free 30 trial. This allows Accounting educators the opportunity to test out various functionality including in the software to see if it will fit within their classroom. This is extremely helpful if you need to create a proposal to your administrative team as to why using Intuit QuickBooks would be helpful within your classroom environment, as you can reference specific examples.

Another strong feature we like about Intuit QuickBooks is there in depth help opportunities. Intuit QuickBooks provides individuals the opportunity to “train” in the usage of their product.

Live Training:
Live Training is available both in person and via online webinars. The prices vary from Free to $499 depending on what training you need and where you receive your training (online webinars seem to be cheaper than in person training). Each of the courses offers different experiences dependent on your needs. This could be a great opportunity for further knowledge and preparation if an educator pursues it.

On Demand Training:
We live in a world where we want the opportunity available to us to have everything at our finger tips. This is understood via the offering of On Demand Training. This offering is similar to the live training, however, you purchase the ability to stream a lesson to your computer via the internet and navigate it at your pace. Meaning you could get through five minutes today and come back tomorrow and finish the lesson, or break it up into a number of days until you’ve mastered that lesson. The individual lessons are pricey at $400 each, but bundle packages allow for you to purchase multiple lessons at a discount. This is likely not the route to go for an educator as the prices are too steep. A school district is unlikely to foot the bill for such costs given that this may be a tertiary need of the school.

CD/DVD Training:
The CD/DVD Training option is essentially the same thing as the On Demand Training. The difference of course being the On Demand Training is done via streaming on the internet and the CD/DVD Training is done through purchased CDs or DVDs, as the name would imply. The price points are exactly the same, but with the CD/DVD Training you would have a physical copy of the lessons you’d like, rather than a digital copy. A school district might be willing to foot the bill for the CD/DVD Training as one physical copy of the lessons can be used throughout the district.

Online Demos:
The Online Demos offered may not be the most in depth features, but they can provide a good starting point on each area you’re interested in learning more about. There about 60 seconds each, meaning you can view them all at once. They are also free! But they do not provide the quantity that the other training offerings would provide.

Like any good product an online community is featured in order to provide individuals the opportunity to seek out answers to their questions without necessarily having to reach out to Intuit QuickBooks via their customer service. Online communities also encourage collaboration and sharing which is helpful to individuals starting out with using the product.

The pricing plans are noted as $12.95, $26.95, and $39.95 per month. As mentioned above the price may very for a school district given number of licenses purchased for the product.

Additional Info:
For additional info on Intuit QuickBooks please check out their FAQ. Also note that Intuit QuickBooks syncs with many of today’s apps.

1. Intuit QuickBooks is considered easy to operate.
2. The software requires little to no actual knowledge in the field of Accounting.
3. Features items you’d be reviewing in an Accounting course such as Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable and General Ledgers.
4. With monthly licenses it is easier to decide to no longer use the product.
5. A lot of available tutorials, webinars and information available.

1. It is not the industry standard according to accountants.
2. It may not be useful once a student reaches Accounting II or Accounting III.

Intuit QuickBooks At a Glance:


Sage Peachtree now known as Sage 50
Sage Peachtree/Sage 50 also offers a free trial period, but they do not indicate how long it is until you signup for it. They will also schedule a one on one demo for you on how to use the software. No cost is noted with the demo.

Support offered is not as involved as Intuit QuickBooks, but they do offer the usual company customer service as well as an online help forum/community.

Plans vary from $299 to $449 to $1,499 a year. The $299 and $449 plan features usage for one person, while the $1,499 plan features usage for three people. Again prices may vary for a school district buying multiple licenses.

1. Defined as industry standard by accountants.
2. Features items you’d be reviewing in an Accounting course such as Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable and General Ledgers. Also includes Job Costing and Forecasting.
3. Aligns with PARCC goals.

1. Requires Accounting knowledge.
2. Limited help resources available.
3. Yearly licenses lock you into longer usage and harder to decide to no longer use product.
4. May be more effectively used in an Accounting II or Accounting III course.
5. Some define it as harder to operate than Intuit QuickBooks.

Sage 50 Tutorials:

Overall Thoughts:
You need to consider the needs of your classroom before deciding on which program to use within an Accounting course. You also need to consider the budget your school district has available for its educational technology products. Intuit QuickBooks biggest assets are its ease of use and availability of resources to help both educators and students utilize it. Sage Peachtree now known as Sage 50‘s biggest asset is the fact that it is considered the industry standard among accounts. For example, a school district only offering one accounting program may be more inclined to utilize Intuit QuickBooks, while a Career and Technical Education program training individuals for real world accounting might utilize Sage Peachtree now known as Sage 50. Ultimately the decision should be made based on a best fit though.

“C.P.R. for the Drowning Educator”

First off, let me say that I am thrilled to be a guest blogger for FAAET.  This opportunity is quite an honor, so I hope to do it justice.

Last week, I gave the most exciting presentation of my career at my county’s annual technology conference.  The title is not important, as this is much more so about the process; however, I will share a bit of the content, as I hope it can prove useful to readers.  With all that being said, let’s begin.


The Dare

This story, like many other good ones, begins with a dare.   I recently became a Google Certified Teacher, in the Atlanta cohort.  When we were at the Google Teacher Academy, we were introduced to the idea of moonshot thinking, which reminded me of the question, “what could you do if you weren’t afraid to fail?”

Ironically, simply applying to the Google Teacher Academy foreshadowed this “aha moment.” While applying, I had reasoned that there was no way that I would ever be chosen, but that there was nothing to lose in trying.  In hindsight, I made the right decision.

Moonshot thinking stuck with me, and I decided to continue employing it in my everyday life.  My courage was once again put to the test, when the opportunity to apply to speak at SXSW was announced later that summer.  This was insanity, as I was sure that I would not be selected.  However, I dared myself to try anyway.  As the old saying goes, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

I had no idea what to say or do.  Somewhere, I had heard that acronyms were catchy.  I decided to go with C.P.R., as it sounded interesting, and added “for the Drowning Educator,” for good measure.

Next, I had to figure out what each of these letters would represent.  This was tough.

The “C” was easy…collaboration.  This was a no-brainer.  Most of the successful practices that I had implemented in my classroom were as a result of being a connected educator.  Over the past year, I had thrown myself into collaborating with educators around the world through social media.  Through my PLN (local and international), I had learned of fantastic things such as flipped instruction, gamification, and many more.  I had been preaching the power of being connected, so this would be an integral part of the presentation.

How about “P?”  Well, P could stand for passion.  I had just finished reading Dave Burgess’s Teach Like a Pirate, after seeing him speak at NJAMLE in March 2014.  Passion was definitely important.

The “R” was a bit harder, but after some reflection (which would have also been a good “r” word), I came up with reinvention.  I had heard many members of my PLN say things to the effect of, “you can teach for 20 years, or you can teach one year 20 times.”  This resonated with me, as I have realized the importance of modeling life-long learning to my students.

After scraping together sections of my presentation, and copying/pasting the text into Evernote to save for later proposals, I crossed my fingers and hit submit.


Flash Forward

This proposal didn’t get accepted.

I’m totally fine with it.  Days after I pressed submit, one of my friends invited me to join a panel that she would propose to SXSW.  I chose to abandon the initial project for the time being, and instead focus on the group session.  (Spoiler: it was accepted.  Hee!)

It was a good thing that I did save the C.P.R. session for later.  This is one thing that we should always remember when submitting sessions: a rejection only means, “this session isn’t good for this event at this time.”  It may be a perfect match for another opportunity.  Turns out that “C.P.R. for the Drowning Educator” was a hit at the aforementioned countywide technology conference.  Many thanks to my PLN, particularly members of the EduMatch Voxer Group, for their help in brainstorming ideas for the session.


Five Lessons Learned (aka TL;DR)

  1. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  Too often, we get comfortable, and are afraid to take a chance.  We are afraid of the unknown.  We buy into the “if-it’s-not-broken-don’t-fix-it” mentality.  While playing it safe is good, we need to take those risks to aspire towards greatness.  If what we are doing is in the best interest of students, and there is nothing to lose, the question should not be, “why?”  It should be, “why not?”
  2. Save all of your ideas, no matter how ridiculous they seem.  You never know.  With a little bit of tweaking, they may just work!  This is super-easy and free to do, especially with services such as Evernote, Google Drive, and many other products that serve similar functions.
  3. [Many] things happen for a reason.  Yes, this is super-trite, overgeneralized, and perhaps annoying to hear, but the older I get, the more I see this proving true.  Sometimes, you must experience the bitter to make the sweet that much more delicious.  For example, if you have a rough day with students, you can brainstorm ways together to make the next day run more smoothly.  This leads to growth for all.
  4. Your PLN will save your life.  Confession time: the evening before I was to give the “C.P.R.” presentation, I had done nothing but the proposal.  I knew that I had to make a touchdown, because I was on home turf.  The pressure was insane.  I was the one who was drowning.  In a very vulnerable moment, I reached out to my PLN in the EduMatch Voxer group, and they came to my rescue.  It is through that collaboration that the juices started flowing, and I was able to pull it all together.  Conversely, you may be that rock for someone in their time of need.  Work on developing your PLN.  It’s important.
  5. Jump in feet-first.  Remember pool rules?  Don’t run around the deck.  No diving head-first into shallow water.  However, feel free to cannonball into whatever topic that strikes your fancy.  Splash others with your enthusiasm.  Pool parties are always the best.

Hey, don’t be afraid of the deep end.  Just work your way into deeper and deeper waters.  I believe that I have taken this extended metaphor just about as far as I can, so I will bid you good folks adieu.  Weigh in below with your comments.  Thanks for reading!

Sarah Thomas (@sarahdateechur)

The Importance of the Keyword

Yesterday morning, I had the opportunity to work with a group of 4th graders start their research on various civil leaders. The students came to me with their questions and were ready to find the answers.

The first group was researching Abraham Lincoln, so I asked them what would be a good keyword to start off with, and they said (of course) Abraham Lincoln.


We looked at their first question, which was where/when was Abraham Lincoln born, and the students began to look around the screen for the answer. The keyword they selected wasn’t good enough. So we brainstormed and the students decided to use Abraham Lincoln and the word born.


The students were amazed to see the information they needed just appear on the screen. We continued searching and exploring various keyword combinations.  The basic information was easy to locate, birthdate, birth place, and family. Things like personality traits and life obstacles were not so easy. Thankful this was not a one day lesson!

One of my goals was for the students to gain a better understanding of just how important keywords can be when you are looking up information online. So why is this important? Without the right keywords, you may never find the information you need. Students need to learn how to take a large amounts of information and sort through it to find just what they need.  Had the students stuck with the first search “Abraham Lincoln”, we would have had a too much information to sort through.

If your personal searching skills are lacking, don’t worry there is a great collections of resources for you to use with your students (and yourself).

Google’s Search Education

Google provides great resources to teachers to use in the classroom! Be sure to click on the Lesson Plans and Activities area. These lessons are great for all grade levels and can be taught over multiple sessions if needed.

Teaching Channel

Do a search for “research skills”. You will find a variety of videos that show how teachers are facilitating activities with students on things like keyword selection and website selection.


You can find some great lessons and activities within the International Reading Association’s website Read*Write*Think. Be sure to search the learning objective “inquiry/research”.

These are not the only three resources, but they are a great place to start! Do you use a great resource on keyword searches? If so, share it with us!

**Originally posted at Techie Teacher Thoughts

written by Eva Harvell – @techie_teach

Technology Integration Specialist; Pascagoula School District, Pascagoula MS

NearPod: Going Beyond PowerPoint to Engage

As educators, you can’t deny the shift that is happening in education. Kids learn differently so we have to teach differently to reach their learning styles! We have to evolve with education or risk losing our student’s attention. However, what hasn’t changed is the time that teachers have to research to find the tools they need to update their “teacher tool kits.” So I hope you find this new tool useful to add to your resources!

PowerPoint had it’s day, but it’s time to take it to the next level and make it interactive! Having your students interact during a presentation will help keep them engaged and drive your percentages higher for students who master the lesson objective. The tool that will help you achieve this is called NearPod!

You can create slide presentations from scratch or pull from their existing library of designed templates, but what’s really exciting about NearPod is that you can incorporate polls, quizzes and multimedia into the presentation to assess them throughout the lesson. You can even take your old PowerPoint slides and  upload them into NearPod.

How it works:
*The teacher launches a live session that pushes out a code for students to join.

*Using any device, laptop or computer, students can join the session and watch as the teacher goes through the presentation

*When a website, poll or anything interactive comes up on the screen, the students only have as much time as the teacher allows until the teacher advances to the next slide. This keeps the students on task and where the teacher wants them in the lesson.

*On interactive slides such as the quiz, website, poll or draw it feature, the teacher can only see what individual students are answering, and can share out, anonymously, to the class to show student work or to re-teach. This is my favorite feature!

NearPod is a very easy to use tool for any non-techy teacher and those techy teachers out there will appreciate these features as well. One of the teachers on my campus does not have a projector, so this was a great solution for her because she wouldn’t have had a way to present to her students, otherwise. There are a lot of ways NearPod can be a solution to a problem. How do you see using this tool in your classroom or school?

Resources to get you started:

Written by Kimberly Munoz
Instructional Technologist for Franklin ISD
15 years prior teaching experience
@techmunoz–connect with me