Shining EdTech Examples

The Teachers’ Lounge website is what the Panama-Buena Vista Union School District has created for sharing information and best practices with educators. I recently mentioned the webinar that’s happening on March 5th where we’ll explain how Teachers’ Lounge has made strides toward building a community of support during a time of great change.

Unfortunately during the webinar, we probably won’t have much time to dig into the specifics of how a website can benefit educators within a district. I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight some of the wonderful things teachers are accomplishing in PBVUSD, and how recording best practices on a website can help teachers gain insight regarding blended learning.

Teachers don’t have a lot of time to visit other classrooms–mainly because they have their own students to teach most of the day. I’m fortunate enough in my position to visit classrooms and see highly motivated educators shaping highly motivated students, and then I can share the experiences on Teachers’ Lounge. If you’re a teacher or administrator looking for effective ways to incorporate technology, here are some great examples:

  • Mr. Pinheiro’s classroom management and organization are a beauty to behold. If you’d like to learn about the wonders of Google Slides, Tab Management, and creative ways to house 1:1 devices, this link will be extremely helpful.
  • Ms. Torbert used a release day in an innovative and effective way. Instead of visiting each teacher’s classroom (the traditional method), she invited the teachers to her classroom during their prep time so they could observe her students using various programs in her classroom. She split the kids into stations of two or three students, and they demonstrated many great websites and online resources. If you’re an administrator looking for how teachers can train other teachers at a school site, check this out.
  • Ms. Camp is a shining example of how to successfully blend technology and instruction in the classroom. On Teachers’ Lounge, you’ll see her students use Class Dojo, GAfE, and Edmodo, as well as participate in some truly creative projects.
  • Mrs. Higgins optimizes the physical space in her classroom with whiteboards and couches so students have their own places to problem solve and learn. She also uses a wide-range of educational programs such as GAfE, Padlet, That Quiz, Front Row, and Edmodo, which moves her toward ‘Redefinition’ on the SAMR Model.
  • Mr. Goings’s instruction takes blended learning to a new and improved level. This lesson is based upon a perplexing question: “If I were going to stack Big Macs, one on top of another, how many of them would I need to reach the moon?” This prompts the students to ask many questions in order to solve the problem. If you have time, I recommend checking out this page.
  • Mrs. Tiffin has a paperless classroom, so her students use the 1:1 devices and GAfE to learn, collaborate, and create. Here’s a lesson where she teaches how to write an objective summary of a text. This is a great example of how to use devices in a junior high ELA classroom.

A website can become the central hub for connectivity and best practice resources. Without Teachers’ Lounge, YouTube, and a willingness to share, none of the above links would be possible. School districts must use the tools at hand to give teachers glimpses of what it looks like in other classrooms. This will help all educators become confident in blended learning strategies.

A business against regular business?

Sensory overload is real. With a smart phone in our hands, it’s difficult to distance ourselves from the constant bombardment to read, watch, listen, and consume.

This makes starting a business tricky. It’s true that right now there are more platforms to market products than ever before. Social media, when used by a savvy businessperson, can reap a huge following and profit. (No book does a better job of illuminating this claim than Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.)

But there are many components necessary to help the signal cut through the noise. A great product and intelligent accounting are no brainers. But what about being funny? Getting consumers to enjoy the product and like the people who make it?  Maybe even, at times, giving the product away for free?

Cards Against Humanity is a game that’s not for the faint of heart. Imagine an R-rated Apples to Apples, and you’ve got the concept. That might not be your cup of tea, but what’s interesting is this article by Christine Lagorio-Chafkin. She does a good job illuminating the Cards Against Humanity founders’ business philosophy. Money quote:

I called Temkin, the 26-year-old Chicago-based game designer and graphic artist who’s something of a ringleader for his co-creators of Cards, to ask if what he and his friends have created is merely an extraordinarily profitable hobby. He tells me the company behind Cards is indeed incorporated and that the company recently obtained a business address–a sort of small-scale co-working-space Temkin manages. (Temkin also takes graphic-design freelance gigs and designs other games.) But as a company, Cards Against Humanity isn’t trying to emulate corporations.

“To me a ‘company’ seems to be something with cost-benefit analysis, and that tries to make a profit at every turn,” he says. “Our main priority is to be funny–and to have people like us.”

The article is fun to read in its entirety. The game creators definitely run a unique business. I love this excerpt from the article:

On Black Friday this past year, Cards ran something of an anti-sale, pricing the box at $30, with a note, “Today only! Cards Against Humanity products are $5 more. Consume!”

Counterintuitive, and it worked. More orders were placed on 2013’s Black Friday than the year before.

The tools are out there to create a business, market products, and communicate with consumers. But successful people need creativity–now more than ever.