Archive for the ‘Teaching Tips’ category


6 Reasons Why Teachers Should Use Quizbean – Our Fun, Easy-to-Use, Create Your Own Quiz Tool

Quizzes have been a teaching tool since dinosaurs walked the earth… well maybe not that long, but ever since teachers have been educating their students. They have been used throughout our lives: in elementary school, high school, and all the way through students SAT prep courses. Quizzes and pop-quizzes always seem to be so annoying for students in the moment, but they should be viewed as a tremendous learning tool when used the right way.

Consistent and frequent quizzing on a specific subject has been shown to be effective in helping to store information in a person’s long term memory. This “Testing Effect” or quizzing effect, is one of the reasons why it makes sense to include frequent quizzes in one’s teaching curriculum. In addition to using quizzes to help students remember material in the long term, quizzes are a great way to assess a student’s knowledge on a subject before starting to teach about it. Quizzes have their place in the educational landscape and are here to stay. Now it is up to educators to understand and connect with students in a world where education and technology are joined at the hip.

Here are 6 Reasons Why Teachers Should Use Quizbean – Our Fun, Create Your Own Quiz Tool to Improve Teaching and Learning

6 Reasons Why Teachers Should Use Quizbean – Our Fun, Easy-to-Use, Create Your Own Quiz Tool

1. For Efficiency’s Sake

Quizbean has recently partnered with Clever, an awesome application for both teachers and students. This makes life a heck of a lot easier for teachers trying to incorporate educational technology apps into their classroom. Clever has created an application which saves teachers hundreds of hours of administrative set-up time; they created a tool which allows teachers to easily make a quiz (through Quizbean) and automatically send it to all their students with a few clicks. When students complete a quiz sent by their teachers, their results are automatically posted online for the teacher to see. Teachers not only see how students did individually, but they see they bigger picture.

2. Real Time Feedback

When students are taking a Quizbean quiz, Instascore is enabled; students see how they are doing as they take a quiz. Students see which questions they answer correctly, and when they answer incorrectly, teachers have the option to add explanations to inform them about the correct answer. This feature benefits students as they are able to understand what information they have absorbed from their teacher and are able to simultaneously learn when they answer a question incorrectly. Students no longer have to wait a few days for the teacher to go through all the quizzes and correct them by hand. More time for teachers, better feedback for the students; win-win. Instantaneous feedback, Voilà!

3. Results and Analytics for Teachers

Some of the most beneficial features of Quizbean are the reports and analytics generated by the application. After students in a class complete a quiz, reports can easily be generated which show the individual results of each student, and also the collective results of the entire class. It is easy for teachers to see the patterns of which questions students tended to answer correctly, and those which they often got wrong. Since the quizzes give instant feedback, teachers don’t have to spend extra time grading all the quizzes individually. Teachers also can analyze reports to help them draw conclusions about how the students are absorbing the material they are teaching.

4. Accessibility For All

With the world growing more virtual day after day, students have the ability to access technology and online educational resources wherever they are. It is now easier than ever to create a quiz on Quizbean, and send it to your students to do as homework on their own time. Snow day coming? Have the students watch a short video and send an easy quiz to go along with it. The students will still be able to enjoy their snowball fights and sledding, and can do their 10 minutes of work after their day of play. A quick video and quiz on the day off seems like a good alternative to making up that snow day in June!

5. Shareability of Quizzes

Quizbean has an expansive quiz bank with quizzes that span all types of subjects: language, history, math, sciences and much more. Teachers can build upon quizzes they find in the Quizbean quiz bank to create study tools for their students. These quizzes can easily be shared to a teacher’s entire class or shared to a select group of students in their class. Teachers also have the option to share the quiz to anyone else through email or social media. Bottom line, once you find or make a quiz you like, it is easy as pie to share it.

6. Question Randomizer On/Off Toggle

Teachers have the power to turn the question randomizer on and off. This means when one quiz is sent from a teacher to all their students, they can control if ordering of questions will be different for each quiz. This can be highly beneficial to giving online quizzes in the classroom in an effort to dissuade cheating. This can ease your worries about whether little Johnny will try and peak over to see what Mary answered for number 7. Using the randomizer feature adds some mystery to you and the student, and who doesn’t love integrating strategy with learning?

Happy Quizzing everyone! Feel free to reach out to the team if you have any questions or suggestions.


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 🙂



17 Ways to Not Make Friends With Your Principal [GIF]

The Principal runs the show (even though it could be argued the front office runs the show). Anyway, you’ve got to get on his/her good side. Otherwise, you might get the ax. And you don’t want to get the ax, do you?

It takes a delicate soul to get on the good side of the principal. After, they’re dealing with all kinds of craziness from 6am – 4pm when they (maybe) get to go home to their family.

So, how do you make friends with your principal?

Well, it’s more about what NOT to do. Scroll through the list below for a good laugh. And if you love it, feel free to share it with your teacher friends (just not your principal :p)

How to NOT make friends with your principal:

1. Never leave a project incomplete


2. Don’t throw paper all over the office

3. Don’t talk on your cell phone IN a meeting

4. Watch what you say and where you say it. Pizza places are notorious for principal’s.

5. Stop being confident

6. Don’t go all face-desk on them, either.

7. Make sure your lesson plan isn’t “school-friendly”

8. Call every student’s parents

9. Get caught not grading papers

10. Your principal should not have to say this to you

11. Never volunteer for anything

12. Like coaching sports

13. Or getting your students to sell wrapping paper and chocolate for a field trip

But the chocolate part would be fun…

14. Not being a big fan of your co-workers

15. Complain about your salary

Even though it really isn’t high enough. Seriously.

16. Have a ridiculous melt-down in the hallway

17. Leave students outside in the winter during recess

Are we spot on or what?

 


8 Tips to Make Your Online Class Successful

Make Your Online Class Successful

It seems like you can learn anything online these days. From knitting, to coding, cake decorating, to building a tiny home – literally anything!

Online courses have become one of the best ways to get content to the masses.

You don’t have to be in a classroom. You can do your homework whenever – and where-ever. And you can meet and discuss class topics in a civilized manner.

But you can make your online class even more awesome with the tips below:

1. Good title and description

Want students to take your class? It all starts with the title and description. They are the first things your prospective students read to see if they are even the least bit interested in taking your class. And don’t forget to focus on benefits. What will your students get out your class? What will they leave with? Make sure those benefits are in your description.

2. Amazing audio and video

Some online courses don’t have any additional media, but if you’ve got videos or podcasts, make sure your audio is amazing. Bad audio is just horrible. Make it seem like your students are right there with you

3. Varied “classroom” activities with mixed media

mixed media

Online courses shouldn’t involve an incredible amount of reading. Technology provides for awesome ways to connect with your students – like blogs, YouTube videos, Slideshare presentations, TED talks, etc. It keeps students on their toes, and provides for a great motivator when they know they won’t have to read “just another textbook”.

4. One-on-one attention

Can you give your students one-on-one attention after class? If so, it’ll dramatically improve their experience with your online class. Why? Because people love personalized help – especially when they don’t understand the subject matter. Still hold office hours – like you would in a college class.

5. Team collaboration

Everyone secretly hates team projects because one person always ends up doing 80% of the work (I was that kid in school). But, with the internet, team projects have changed. Now, you can see if people have viewed Google Docs, edit work live, and even hold meetings face-to-face without getting out of your pajamas.

6. Legitimate student assessment

From online quizzes to media projects or team final exams, there are a lot of ways to quickly assess your students learning from your online course. When it’s not just pages and pages of multiple choice bubbles, it stays interesting. Keep it real and honest when it comes to student assessment.

7. Easy-to-Use Tools

Can you create tools to help your students learn concepts quicker? Maybe calculators? Resource sections on a blog? What about other class-specific tools. And pro tip: Give them away for free. Don’t make students pay. They already pay enough for the course and the paper weights…..err….textbooks.

8. Get feedback

Get feedback from students

If you’ve completed an online course already, what feedback did you get? Did you get feedback? Feedback from your past students helps you improve your teaching style, your course outlines, and content. Plus, even how you get feedback. Maybe it makes sense to get feedback half way through instead of just at the end. After all, when they class is done, you can’t really make changes….

Have you taught on online class? What tips do you have to share?


7 Traits You Need to be the Best Teacher Ever

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I’ve had some amazing teachers over the years. From my kindergarten teacher who taught us basic French, to my 7th grade social studies teacher who not only taught me about the world, but how to shoot a basketball. And then there was my 12th grade human biology professor who helped me appreciate science more than anyone ever has. Plus, I’ve had countless great college professors — too many to list here.

It takes a lot to be a great teacher. While some teachers skate by until the next mandatory vacation rolls around, others pour their heart and soul into teaching.

It’s challenging to do the later.

For this week’s post, I wanted to think about what it takes to be an amazing teacher. What sets other teacher’s apart? Why were some of my teachers amazing and others not-so-much?

During my research I came across BuzzFeed’s 23 Defining Traits of Your Favorite Teacher – it was a humorous page to start my research with. As I progressed through other blogs, I accumulated a large list. Then, I narrowed it down to what I think are the 7 traits you need to be the best teacher ever.

Here’s what it really takes:

1. Empathy

You have to understand what your students are going through. The pressures of life are amounting to greater than they ever were. And you can’t just brush it off. Teachers are becoming coaches, counselors, and support for students who need that role in their life. Being a teacher is more than imparting knowledge. It’s about making a difference beyond the textbook, too.

2. Listening Skills

Having been in the workforce for a few years now, I appreciate people who listen. People who take the time to internalize what you’re saying and not ready their response only to say something that isn’t beneficial. Listening is more powerful than speaking in my opinion. And the teachers I’ve had were great at this.

3. Creativity

I had a freshman geometry teacher lay on her desk and fall on the floor just to demonstrate the concept of slope. Awesome. And don’t even get me started on what my human biology teacher would do….Anyway, creativity is the crux of keeping students engaged. If you can make any topic interesting, I guarantee it’ll keep your students 1. awake and 2. participating in class.

4. Organization

It drove me nuts when my teachers were not prepared for class. You told me to read a certain chapter and be prepared to discuss it. You should be ready, too. Stay organized. Keep your desk clean.  Make sure you know what you’re going to talk about for that class – and maybe even the next class. An organized lesson plan is your key to success in the classroom.

5. Sense of Humor

I’ve had my good share of funny teachers. And I can remember when I laughed, class flew by. It was interesting. It kept me on my toes, and I was engaged. I wasn’t on Facebook checking out what my friends had for lunch. I was learning – and laughing. Great combination if you ask me.

6. High standards

All of the amazing teachers I’ve had have pushed my limits. They’ve been challenging, demanding (ok, maybe not my kindergarten teacher), and they’ve expected nothing less than perfection. But they also provided the tools and resourced to help their students succeed. High standards is something you learn. Learning is done in school. Therefor, it’s one of your main jobs to instill high standards in your students. Other teachers will thank you.

7. Team Player

You have to work with other teachers. It’s just part of your job description. Whether you’re planning to team-teach, coordinate lesson plans, or even help a young teacher become better, you’re all on the same team. Great teachers are the coach of this team. They motivate, encourage, and support.

Of course, this list is up for debate. I’d like to open it up to your comments. What traits did your favorite teachers have and what do you believe teachers need to be the best teacher ever? Fire away in the comments below.


The Pros & Cons of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

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Schools are now allowing students to bring their devices – read: technology – into the classroom. From smartphones to ipads, laptops to smart watches, it’s almost impossible to

Pros of BYOD

1. Learn quicker

I hand-wrote (and sometimes re-wrote) my notes from every class in a color-coded notebook system (OK – type A here). With laptops and tablets, students are able to get information down faster. Plus, they’re able to read it when they go back to study before an exam. Don’t let technology get in the way of better, more efficient learning.

2. Apply technology to real life

Technology gets used everywhere – on fieldtrips, in the classroom, and even for sports. And with students having their phones practically glued to their face, you might as well put it to good use, right? With BYOD, students are able to learn how technology helps them be more productive, conduct research, and communicate in a professional manner.

3. Help teachers better use technology

As I write this post, I’m imagining some of my elementary and middle school teachers using technology like smartphones and iPads to facilitate lessons plans. I just can’t see it happening. But, with a BYOD policy, it may help them better use technology to enhance what they’re teaching. And, that’s an added benefit. Not only do students get to use their own device, but teachers get to learn more about them (and impress their spouse at the dinner table :p).

4. There are apps for everything

Have you seen the apps available in the Apple Store or Google Play? It’s in the millions. That tells me that if you’re looking to do something on a phone or tablet, you’ve got endless options. There are drawing apps, math apps, quiz apps, and even apps to help keep attendance.

5. Happier students

When I was at a high school entrepreneurship talk a few weeks back, I sat at a table with junior and senior business students who could not let go of their cell phones (thankfully, they paid attention to my talk). Technology is woven into today’s modern student (do I have to show you the baby playing with an iPad again?). They’re simply comfortable with it. And when they’re in a comfortable environment, they’re happy.

The Pros & Cons of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) from quizbean

Cons of BYOD

1. Student distraction

Students almost always text during class. Regardless of whether or not it’s useful texting (unlikely), it’s a distraction. And students won’t pay attention to you. I mean, sometimes the phone is more interesting than the teacher. But, with distraction comes less learning. If you’re going to adopt a BYOD program, make sure you set limits with your students.

2. Access to devices

Not everyone has a smartphone. Some have tablets – others have laptops. . You may not have a computer lab, either. The bottom line – access is a battle. Using technology means your students all have to have access to it or it becomes useless. Make sure there’s a way that every student has access to the right devices at the right time.

3. Cost of technology

Along with access, you’re looking at a hefty upfront cost. And I know many schools don’t have a penny to spend, but if you adopt a BYOD policy, students bring their own device. Then, however, you run into students who may have some financial hardship which could make them the only student without technology in the classroom.

4. Classroom usefulness

There are some classes where BYOD simply would not work for the curriculum – at least not all the time. A lot of math classes are still taught on whiteboards/chalkboards, and some English literature classes still go right from the book (see #3 for cost). So, BYOD is classroom dependent but I’m sure you’ll be able to find a use for your classroom – even if it isn’t every class.

What do you think? Is it smart for teachers to let students bring their own devices to class? Let me know in the comments below.


7 Test Prep Strategies to Utilize in Your Classroom

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It’s test day.

The classroom is quiet and your students look more tired than usual. Some of them are doing a last-minute study review, others look around the classroom anxiously. You wonder how many of them stayed up all night binge studying? Or didn’t study at all.

I’ll tell you firsthand, being unprepared or exhausted on test day is a bad feeling. It leads to poor performance on tests (just ask my chemistry teacher) and negatively affects students’ ability to recall important information.

Preparing for a test does not have to be overwhelming or intimidating. It just takes a small effort on your students’ part. Here are 7 test-prep strategies to utilize in your classroom to help your students beat common test-day frustrations.

7 Test Prep Strategies to Utilize in Your Classroom

1. Get organized

Preparing for a test does not start on the day before the exam. It starts on the first day of class. Make sure your students have a class folder to keep assignments organized. Also remind students to date and title each day’s class notes. That way it’s easy to find and highlight the material they need to study for the test.

2. Make a Study Schedule

Make review sessions of the week’s material a priority (and we don’t just mean another homework assignment). Put the upcoming test on the student’s radar and it discourages binge studying.

3. Study in Groups

You know the saying, “Strength in numbers.” Well, that applies to studying, too. During the first week of class, plan a number of social lesson plans that let students get acquainted with each other. Encourage students to find a group and exchange email or phone numbers to help kickstart the process.

4. Make student feedback easy

You’re not a robot and neither are your students. You know what I mean. You’re in front of the class teaching and all you see is a classroom of blank faces staring back at you. You have no idea if the lesson is sinking in or not. That’s why its important to have an easy method for student feedback. What’s making sense? What’s not. Here’s one teacher’s take on the matter: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/2251868537847040/

5. Flashcards

Yes, I said it, flashcards. There’s a reason flashcards have not fallen out of fashion. They work. Flashcards promote active recall of information and they provide students with a quick way to assess their knowledge of the material. Have each student make a list of all the unfamiliar terms and concepts they’re struggling with in class and then have them make flashcards. Just remember to tell them to randomize the card order after a few run throughs to keep it fresh.

6. Active Homework

Keep your students on their toes by coming up with different styles of homework. Doing the same homework task over and over again for each chapter is boring. Not to mention your students begin to feel like robots by the middle of the school year. For example, if you teach English, you usually have students read a chapter in a novel then do a short journal about it, right? Next time, have them storyboard their favorite part of the chapter. Your students will thank you.

7. Post-test Review

 I know, I know. This article is about test-prep. But a lot of teachers forget how crucial and helpful it is to go over the test after it’s graded.This type of review is not just going over the correct answers to the questions. Its about engaging the material covered in the test in a thoughtful, meaningful way that addresses concepts students struggled with. A post-test review keeps students engaged and gives them one more chance to fully comprehend the material.

See? There are a lot of strategic ways to get your students to prepare for tests both in and outside the classroom. Do you have a creative, engaging way to prepare students for test day? Let us know in the comments below!