Archive for April, 2014


7 Ways to Fundraise Your End-of-Year School Trip

7 Ways to Fundraise Your School Trip

If money grew on trees, everything would be easier, right? Sadly, it doesn’t. And you need money to go on fun, end-of-year school trips with your students. You know, the trips they look forward to since, like, first grade?

These days, it’s hard to find the money to make trips happen.

Budgets are tighter, parent’s wallets are closing, and you need to come up with the money to fill the gap – or the trip can’t happen.

When I was in school, we had a lot of trips – to big museums in Boston and even across the border to Ottawa and Quebec (those were awesome trips). And we had to fundraise to pay our own way. Plus, my parents had to chip in a little bit.

Fundraising for us was selling candy bars and wrapping paper. I could sell candy bars no problem – but the wrapping paper was another story. Who needs wrapping paper in March? Anyway, that’s what lead to this post:

How can you fundraise without selling cheap stuff?

In doing the research for this blog post, fundraising has come a long way since the days of wrapping paper. Here are 7 ways to come up with the money for your next school trip – and how to get started:

1. Community Dinner

These are big in small towns. For example, in our town, there’s a “Friday Night Food Affair” – it’s where the community comes together to enjoy a meal at the church. But, you could easily make it a fundraiser for your school trip. Get a couple cooks together and make a giant feast. Then, invite all the parents and rest of the community. All of sudden, your class has cash!

2. Silent Auction with Local Businesses

If you have a lot of small businesses in your town, get them to donate products and services to your auction. Then, all the proceeds go towards your trip – and you get to promote local businesses at the same time. Another variation on this is the discount card/book. Get 20-30 businesses together to make a coupon book the community can use to get discounts. Then sell the book for far less than the value inside. For example, a $20 book can have as much as $500 in savings. Oh, and don’t forget one for your family, too!

3. Sell Flowers

It is spring-time and that means flowers are starting to come into bloom (that is of course if it’s still snowing where you live). Find a local florist to cut you a break on buying a lot of flowers, increase the price, and sell your bouquets in the neighborhood door-to-door. Flowers brighten everyone’s day so you should have no problem selling out 🙂

4. A Real Bake Sale

I mean, seriously, who doesn’t love a serious sugar rush? Rock a bake-sale with cookies, brownies, cupcakes, pie, etc. And sell, sell, sell. Although, icing kind of sells itself. Hold your bakesale every Friday for a month and see what happens. Hopefully, you have some aspiring students or parents who want to bake and you’ll get some delicious treats. If you can’t find the bakers, buy-up some baked items from the grocery store and re-sell them (although, it’s waaaay cooler to bake your own stuff from scratch).

5. Dunk Tank With the Principal

While I’m sure everyone loves the principal, it’s payback time! Rent a dunk-tank from a local rental company (hopefully it’s a hot day, too) and get dunking. Have kids pay to try to dunk the principal. Or, you can get involved, too. I’m sure students would love to dunk their 7th grade history teacher. An alternative to the dunk-tank (and cheaper) is a pie-in-the-face fundraiser. All you need is some plates and whipped cream or CoolWhip.

6. Auction off Student Art

I love this idea. As I walked through the local Elementary school recently, there was tons of student art hanging from the walls. While I know it’s totally fridge-worthy for the parents, you could set aside some time for students to make something different to auction off. Of course it encourages the student’s parents to bid as high as possible on their kid’s art, it’s a fun way to recognize the accomplishment of your students and make some cash for you school trip.

7. Kickball Tournament

For many of you, end of the year trips means it’s finally getting warmer out. That means pick a Saturday and host a kickball tournament. It’ll be nostalgic for the parents and fun for the kids, too. Create teams and a bracket, grab some kick balls from the gym, and pitch away. Collect money for each team registered and give some away to the winning team, too. Play ball!

And that’s the list! While 7 is a small number, I was able to find these other resources you may be interested in:

What has your class done in the past that’s worked to raise enough money for your trip? Start the discussion off and let us know in the comments below.

Happy fundraising!


12 Reasons Your Students LOVE Recess (the last reason is the best)

Ok – spill it. Recess was the greatest part of grade school. Come on, we both know it. You got to play outside with your friends and not worry about that history quiz next period. Oh, and here’s 12 more reasons reasons is just plain awesome.

1. It doesn’t have to be spent inside

2. When you first get outside, it’s magical.

3. Gossip by the tire swing. For reallz.

4. Talking about what happened at the boy’s game last night.

5. And they force their friends not to cram last minute.

6. Oh, did I mention the see-saw. Yesss.

7. And they love those private conversations with their best friend (finally)

8. And the merry-go-round.

9. And hopscotch (well, not this kind)

10. The snow ball fights. Minus the ice balls.

11. Just to remind you, indoor recess is not fun (see #1)

12. And then you realize you have 2.5 months of recess. Um. Yes, please.

See? Ok. Now, share this on Facebook and Twitter.


24 Factors to Make Your College Decision Easier

Making the decision about where to go to college is daunting. There are lot of factors, people to listen to, and research to do. It’s a big decision – both mentally and financially.

Frankly, it could determine your success in life.

That’s why you can’t take the decision lightly. Having seen over 45 college campuses (yes, my Mom literally pulled out the atlas on family vacations and we saw them all – regardless if they had my major or not. Plus, I toured my brother’s and twin sister’s schools, too – crazy).

Some were well-respected. Others, not-so-much. Some in the south – others in the north. Some large – some small. And with college decision day looming, I thought I’d but together a big list of things to consider before you send your letter of acceptance.  Here we go:

24 Factors to Make Your College Decision Easier

1. Size of the school

Do you like big schools where you’re often just a number? Or, do you like small schools where you always see people you know walking to class and the professor knows your name? School size influences many factors in this list like depth of curriculum and majors offered, but it’s more of a personal choice here.

2. Quality of professors

You want to learn, right? Of course you do! Learning starts with the quality of teaching – your professors. While you’re bound to get a couple duds in college, most of your professors should stellar. They should challenge you – push you to succeed. Working hard pays off. Good professors know this.

3. Food (obviously)

How could food not be on this list? For four years, you’ll be eating the same food, so it better be good. Go to the dining hall on multiple occasions – not just accepted students day when the food gets upgraded. Talk to current students to see if dining services puts on special events like late-night breakfast (my favorite thing ever), and dinners for holidays – or even themed events. Remember, you’re eating this food 3-4 times a day. Make sure it’s good.

4. Faculty to student ratio

This relates to #1 and #2 on the list. The size of your school is directly related to the number of students per faculty member. A bigger school has a bigger ration, say 100 to 1. Whereas a small school is usually 15:1. This has it’s benefits. You can actually meet with the professors (instead of a TA) for office hours when you need extra help and the conversations you have in class will be more dynamic than a simple lecture with 200 students.

5. Guaranteed housing

Food on the table and roof over your head – those are two solid requirements throughout college. And housing, sometimes, isn’t guaranteed beyond your freshman year (typically with larger schools). This means you’ll have to navigate the rental market in a college town. That really means increased rents, six roommates, and broken heat. If this isn’t your thing, look for guaranteed housing all four years.

6. Prestige

Some colleges just have that “thing” about them – you know, like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton? You know the type of student who goes there. They just say “Oh, I have a degree from Harvard” like it’s the greatest school on the planet (and it is in some respects). But, if prestige is important to you go to a well-known school – a school where you don’t have explain where it is or what they’re known for.

7. Cost

While some may argue this should be #1 on the list, for some cost isn’t an issue. But if it is, think about a compromise. Maybe the expensive school is your #1 choice, but it’s ok to settle for a school you (or your parents) can afford. Just imagine: if you go to a school within your means, you won’t graduate with thousands of dollars in debt that’s near impossible to get out of. Yeah – you don’t want that.

8. Diversity

Many schools are working on this – and other schools are excelling beyond my wildest dreams. Do you want to interact with students from other countries – or even parts of the United States? Then head off to a school with a large population of international students.

9. Curriculum

How do you get kneed deep in your major? Do you have to take a whole bunch of core classes before you even get into the 101 of your major? Or, do you start with an upside-down curriculum where you take your major’s classes first, followed by your core in junior and senior year. The earlier you can get into your major means the earlier you can switch it (and yes, that could happen multiple times in 4 years).

10. Extra-curricular activities

What can you do on campus that isn’t class-related? Are there intramural sports? How about a campus newspaper or dance class? Schools with extracurricular help you get your mind of school and out of a textbook. Regardless of your choice, get involved. Make something happen on campus and take a leadership position. You’ll be glad you did when you start looking for a job after college.

11. Proximity to home

A lot of students want to move as far away as possible from their parents. Like, other side of the country far. I’ve seen friends do this and come immediately back after freshman year. They missed home. They missed friends and family. Oh, and don’t forget Mom’s home-cooking. That’s what I missed. How far will you be from home? Within 20 minutes – or maybe a weekend trip home. My advice is to make it a happy medium. Distance yourself enough so that you’ll be able to become your own person – do your thing. And not hit your parent’s couch every weekend.

12. Proximity to a big city

As a small-town Vermont kid, I dreamed of the “big city” so I put myself in-between two of them. It’s great to go to school in a small college town, but what about the city? Can you get there by train  or bus in a couple hours and spend a weekend with friends? Or, are you stuck in the middle of nowhere (Alfred University, I’m looking at you)?

13. Financial aid package

Related to total cost of college, it depends on how much financial aid you get. If you’re lucky, you may be able to afford a more expensive school with some debt. But, ultimately, the decision is up to you. I turned down a half scholarship because the school wasn’t right for me. Just proof it’s not all about the money.

14. Accreditation

Is your school accredited by a fancy organization? If it is, you’re heading to a good school. Most accreditations are listed on the school’s homepage or in the brochures you get when you enter admissions. Schools do a ton of work to keep those accreditations so you  can be sure they’ll have them for years to come.

15. Ability to transfer AP credits

Did you take some AP classes in high school? If so, make sure your credits transfer. AP credits are a great way to get a legup on your coursework, skip a few required classes, and maybe even graduate a little early. That means you can dominate the world even sooner now – cool, huh? This is also important for when/if you study abroad.

16. Studying abroad

How big is your school’s study abroad program? Can you travel to three countries or thirty? Studying abroad is one thing I regret not doing in college, but you have the chance. Hop the pond and study and Europe – or explore the beautiful Asia-Pacific. Study somewhere where you can travel to as many different countries as possible.

17. Condition of dorms

Are you able to live in a nice dorm or is it more like a prison cell? Check out all the dorms on campus – even the ones you won’t be living in for a few years. Where is laundry located? Is the furniture damaged? What about the size of the rooms? Will you be able to fit all of your clothes AND a mini fridge? If there’s no guaranteed housing, check out the rental market within a 5 mile radius.

18. Condition of gym/fitness facility

You have no excuse to not hit the gym while at college. Chances are, it’s beautiful – and some of the best equipment you’ve ever seen. Colleges want to have healthy students (after all, you’ve got work off those giant burritos, right?) so they provide the necessary resources. Some schools even have health coaches/counselors to help develop a plan for you to stay fit. Now, that’s awesome.

19.  Ability to take electives

Some students won’t have much flexibility outside of the classes required by their major to graduate. But, if you do, see if your school has a deep curriculum with some interesting college classes. I went to business school and never thought I’d take a class on African Pop Culture – yet, it was one of my favorite classes.

20. Parking & public transportation

Can you bring a car on campus? What about parking – is it a pain? Some schools don’t even let freshman students have cars. But, that means public transportation better be amazing. Check with your school to make sure it’s easy to get around after class and on the weekends.

21. Party school?

There’s no getting around it – students drink under-age. But, how much of an impact does partying have on the campus? Is it all people seem to do Thursday – Sunday? Do you want to be part of a rowdy crowd? Or would you rather head into down and grab a bite to eat or hey, maybe even go to bed early? The choice is yours, but be prepared for the consequences of an all-out party school.

22. Freshman orientation

I looked for a school with a great orientation. Why? Because I wanted to meet people right off the bat. And you know what? I’m still great friends with people I met that first day at college orientation. Great orientations set you up for a fantastic four years with a great group of friends.

23.  Freshman attrition rate

Do students actually come back after their first year? Schools keep track of this number (because they want to keep it as low as possible) so find out what it is – and why. What’s the reason people don’t like going to school there? And chances are it has nothing to do with the food….

24. Student feedback

If you have friends or family member’s kids who go/went to a few schools you’re looking into, ask them what it’s really like. Get the behind-the-scenes-not-said-on-the-admissions-tour look at the school. For example, I nixed schools of my list when I found out they were heavy party schools or schools where the food was horrible (yes, it was a deal-breaker).

And that’s not even the end of it. But, it’ll help you make a better decision. Did I miss anything? What would you add to the list? Let me know in the comments below.


Why We Need to Teach Leadership in Elementary School

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“The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already.”

– John Buchan

Leadership is one of the hardest words to define. Is the President of the United States a leader? What about your local business people or librarian – are they leaders? Are you a leader?

When it comes down to it, leadership is part of everyone – your Mom, your dentist, your yoga instructor, your trash collector – and yes, even you can be a leader. Even if you were a follower.

Followers are waiting to be leaders.

They’re waiting for their time. But, why wait? A lot of leaders don’t make their mark until college – or even later. They spend the majority of their life following. And following doesn’t get you anywhere.

The problem is this: followers won’t know they are capable of leading unless someone puts them in a leadership position, teaches them how to get things done, and bring a team along with them.

Here’s why student leadership is so important:

(even for when you’re teaching your students “sharing is caring”)

1. Focus

Finding something to do is easy as a student – there’s homework in every class, hanging out with friends, practicing for a role in the play, etc. Student’s lives are chaos. Leadership skills help students focus on what’s important. They know what needs to happen to get everything done. Whether that means scheduling it out on a calendar or sacrifice (see #3), it’s going to help everyone if they’re focused.

2. Courage

You’re at the top of a wall, facing the opposite direction of your peers down below. One step backwards, and you’re falling into the arms of your classmates. That’s terrifying (so are spiders). Leadership gives students an extra dose of courage. And if you’re teaching a classroom of leaders, they’ll coach each other through the team exercise. Courage gives students the power to do anything. After all, the scariest thing for students to do is get something started. Be courageous. Start a movement.

3. Sacrifice

Leaders realize what needs to go to get the team (you know, the followers) to the finish line: sacrifice. I remember when I was on a particular team project. My team members could have cared less about the project (because they knew I was the leader). I stayed up all night to get the project done – and done well. That’s sacrifice. Teach you students early and you’ll see an instant bump in quality. Because to do well you have to do less.

4. Planning

Disorganization is not the name of the game for young leaders. Teach project management to a leader and they’ll put it into action by splitting up the project, delegating, and bringing everyone else full circle.

5. Execution

Related to planning, execution is what leaders do: They get things done. Crossing a task off their to-do list is amazing, Turning in a research paper? Even better? Walking out the door on the last day of class? The best. Students who live for execution of tasks have leadership potential because they are fantastic planners (see #4). They know what needs to be done. Wouldn’t it be great if your students always knew what needed to be done and, well, just did it? That’s leadership. Students helping students to complete the task.

6. Team

Speaking of help, another reason to teach leadership to your students is the team aspect. Ever since you teach them to add and subtract, they’ll be in teams. Whether it’s helping each other, or trying to figure out how to approach a problem, good team work comes from amazing leadership. And amazing leadership doesn’t always have to come from you. In fact, it’s more important if it comes from your students. Go team!

7. Impact

I even went to economics & leadership camp. Yep – I spent one week of my summer in Boulder, CO learning economics in the morning and leadership in the afternoon. I not only made life-long friends, but was able to walk away being deeply impacted by what I learned and experienced. Leadership is powerful. Leadership is life-changing. Be a part of that impact for your students.

Leadership, while important for self-development, is also crucial for others to see – “Yes, I can do the same thing Billy is doing. I’m just as capable”. No, it’s not competition. It’s simply survival. Leaders get ahead. Leaders get things done. And they do it selflessly.

To hit the point further home for you, I compiled a list of my favorite TED Talks on leadership – and why they’re important to watch with your students. If you want to develop your students into the leaders of tomorrow, they may have to learn far beyond the textbook. Enjoy 🙂

The Best TED Talks on Leadership:

TED Talks are a great way to supplement your curriculum. And they cover pretty much any subject. The following three talks are some of my favorites when it comes to leadership and inspiring action in your students. Oh, and don’t worry – they are all PG – safe for any age.

1. Drew Dudley

There’s a reason this talk is number one – it’s my favorite. I watched this at the recommendation of a college friend who works in higher education (plus it’s a story about what happened at course registration in college). Have you had a lollipop moment? I highly recommend sharing this video with your students.

2. Simon Sinek

This is a fabulous talk on the importance of leadership in the workplace. Ideal for high school or college-aged kids, Sinek talks about the power of starting with why people do things – not how or what or who – but why.

 3. Amy Cuddy

After you watch this talk, you ‘ll never cross your arms during a conversation again. While not directly about leadership, Dr. Cuddy explains how your body, while in power position, can make an incredible different on you – and those around you.

With a list of reasons and great videos in hand, you’re left with one simple question:

How do you turn your students into leaders?

It’s quite simple actually. (Ok, nothing is really that simple). Here’s my 5-step process to take your students from lazy to leader (and it helps you in the process!).

 Step 1: Identify students to turn into leaders (TEAM).

Start with a small group to see if this works. If it does, roll it out to the whole class. There’s no use in getting the whole class involved unless they want to be involved.

Step 2:  Get feedback on your class – What’s working? What isn’t? (PLAN)

This could be risky, but hopefully you’ve created an open dialog with your students to be able to say what’s going on – and what simply isn’t working.

Step 3: Narrow down what you and your students would like to change (FOCUS)

You can’t tackle 10 changes at once. Work with a focused list of three to make class time with your students even better.

Step 4: Start with one change and see how it goes (EXECUTION)

Pick one thing to change in your classroom for the week – or two weeks if you’re on a rotating schedule. This helps your small group plan how they’re going to make the biggest impact. Speaking of impact….

Step 5: See how it went with your small group and the rest of the class (IMPACT)

Get feedback from your small team and the rest of the class to see if they change in your classroom made a difference – if there was any true impact.

See what I did there? I’m walking you through leadership in the classroom (while getting you valuable feedback on how your class is going). Cool, huh?

In the end, leadership can be taught. It needs to be taught early so that your students have the impact you want them to have and they want to make. With a couple classroom lessons and several opportunities to put what they’ve learned into action, you’ll be teaching a bunch of little leaders in no time.

What do you think? Should leadership be taught at such an early age? Or, is it important to have leaders and followers? Let me know in the comments below.


And, if you enjoyed this resource, check out QuizBean – it’s a fun tool to help you build those leadership quizzes 🙂



True/False and Multiple Correct Questions Now Available

True/False and Multiple Correct Now Available
It’s official! QuizBean now has four question types available to you to build your next quiz online. Here’s what we’re up to:

Plus, we took it one step further….When you build a quiz, you can mix question types. That means Question 1 can be true/false. Question 2 can be multiple choice and Question 3 can be multiple correct.

So, what are you waiting for? Start your next quiz!


I Dare You To Not Use An Infographic In Your Next Lesson Plan

Infographics are a cliche in 2014. But for good reason.

The power of the infographic is undeniable. Creating a visual representation of real-life data or information is a powerful way to connect to your audience. Especially if your audience is a classroom full of students. As the school day goes on your students get antsy. They start to mentally drift in and out of your lessons. It’s a real battle to keep their attention.

For example, imagine you’re a student. It’s 2:15p.m. You have 50 minutes until the end of the school day. Oh, and it’s Friday. The last thing you want to do is listen to a lesson about biology. You have more important things to think about, right? So what lesson are you more likely to engage with?

This lecture:

The typical definition-explanation lecture.

Or this lecture:

infographics for teachings

A visual-engaging lecture.

Both lectures serve the purpose of teaching your students about biology.

The difference is the level of engagement. With a more visually oriented lesson your more likely to win the attention of your students. And that’s the point. Building authentic engagement. The more time a student spends engaged during lessons, the more they learn (Gettinger & Ball, 2007). Visualizations of subject matter give your student direct impressions and immediate access to the lesson. Unlike the typical chalkboard counter example, which can seem distant and passive.

The key point is infographics are a supplemental solution to increasing student engagement in your lesson plans. Especially on Friday 😛

Where do you find infographics for your classroom? Let me show you.

How to Search for Infographics

1. Google Search

Do a few Google searches to find relevant infographics for the subjects you teach. An easy way to go about this is to do the following search:

Now look through the Google results. Skimming the images results is super helpful too.

There’s 8,190,000 results for this query. You should find plenty of useful infographics.

2. Look through Pinterest

Pinterest is an amazing resource for image-based ideas. Just go over to Pinterest and start searching relevant subjects.

Look at all the results!

3. Visual.ly

Visual.ly is the web’s best directory for infographics. It’s a great resource for finding awesome infographics.

keep in mind you don’t have to add “infographic” after your subject. Just search your subject.

Again, a lot of useful results!

It’s that easy.

In less than 10 minutes you’ll have an awesome way to take your lesson plan to the next level. Build authentic engagement. And have your students undivided attention. I dare you to not use an infographic in your next lesson plan.

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