Introducing the QuizBean Manifesto (aka What we’re all about)

Quizbean is about Quizzes. Making them and taking them. We’re not a LMS. We’re not courseware. In fact, we’re not bloated at all. We’re a lean quiz-making machine. No lengthy help section needed. Making a quiz should be just as easy as taking one. We don’t want you to waste time figuring QuizBean out.

You should be able have a student list populated, classes created and your first quiz sent in under 15 minutes.

To do this, data entry should have zero friction. It should be easy as pie. Blueberry pie. We need keyboard shortcuts and smart defaults. Screens should load instantly from any device — even paper and pencil. Every subject, regardless of how funny-looking the characters are, should work with QuizBean. And grading? It should be instantaneous. It should not disrupt your routine.

And we need to help you through the process.

If you distribute physical quizzes, we need to help you make the transition to a digital platform easier – not harder. QuizBean should save you hours of hand-grading. It doesn’t have to be a tool forced on you by the guy who heads up IT for your district. You should want to use QuizBean.

Quizbean is oodles of fun.

QuizBean should be delightful at every turn. Creation of a quiz should be just as fun as taking a quiz.  Animation, drag-and-drop image upload, and easy data entry help you build a quiz your students want to take (hard to believe, right?).

Students should have fun taking a quiz.  A Quiz should be engaging and not repetitive. It should further their learning, develop knowledge, and help assess where your students could improve.

QuizBean is a tool for the the future of education. A tool that’s simple and effective. And most importantly, makes your job easier.

Take QuizBean for a test drive.

 


8 Reasons Teachers Should Blog

I’ve come across hundreds of teacher’s blogs – from edtech, to teaching kindergarten, becoming an art teacher, curriculum design, and more. Maybe it’s because there are so many of you, but I’m blown away by the sheet number out there. And they all have their own niche!

But, there are still teachers who haven’t joined the technology band-wagon and started blogging.

Now is the time. It’s easier than ever before to get started. Heck, this blog was started in about 15 minutes. And you don’t even need your own website address. You can get something setup at Blogger or WordPress in even less time – and for free.

If I’ve got you interested, read on to discover 10 more reasons you should be putting pen to screen and writing your own blog.

1. You connect with teachers across the globe

One of the most amazing benefits of writing on a consistent basis is the people you meet. From teachers to school administrators, press to principals. You’ll meet a ton of people. And they won’t just be located at the middle school down the road. Teachers are global. Your blog is global. Just through the QuizBean blog, I’ve met teachers from France, Canada, England, Zimbabwe, the Netherlands. etc. Do you want to meet them, too?

2. You build credibility and trust

Think you’re an awesome teacher? That’s for the web to decide! Starting a blog builds credibility and trust. It says you know what you’re talking about. It means other teachers seek you out for knowledge. Start a blog. Take what’s in your head and put into posts. Add pictures and an email sign-up. Then press go. Watch as the world explodes in-front of your eyes.

3. You can be a role model to your students

There’s almost always one aspiring writer in your classroom – and maybe more. By you writing your own blog it may inspire your students to write their own blogs, get creative, and find their own online following. And if they get hooked, blogs are one of the best tools for them to build their personal brands.

4. You get better at writing

No matter how long you’ve been writing, there’s always room for improvement. Writers who have been crafting paragraphs for decades are have their eye on improving. When I started writing, I was horrible. Now, I kind of actually get the hang of it. And internet writing isn’t your run-of-the-mill research paper. It’s fun, light, and personal. This is probably writing you haven’t done in a while – that’s why it’s such a joy!

5. You can write about anything

Passionate about curriculum design? What about teaching new math strategies for 3rd graders? Your blog’s topic is up to you. Someone out there will find it valuable. And you’ll build a following. Oh, you don’t want to write about teaching? Then start a cooking blog. Or a travel blog. Or, just write for he sake of writing.

6. You have something to put on your resume

Hiring managers and principals love to see personal websites. Why? Because it not only shows how you communicate, but it shows your thought process. It puts a human-touch to your resume and gives you a leg-up from the competition.

7. You get your thoughts off your mind…and on paper

As a teacher (or, really any working professional), there’s a ton on your mind. You’re constantly thinking about your students, grading exams, lesson planning, packing lunch (we all know cafeteria food is sub-par). What if you could get those thoughts out of your head? You can with blogging. Pick a word-count, say 500 words, and start typing. There. Is that better? You’ve gotten something off your chest that upset you about the school day. You wrote about how you made a difference in a student’s life. And hey, you don’t even have to publish it. But you should.

8. It’s fun (isn’t that reason enough?)

Who ever thought writing could be fun? Well, if you start a blog, it will be. It’s fun to see your blog posts on the first page of Google. It’s fun to connect with teachers across the world – and even teachers in your own school. Plus, if it ends up not being fun, you can always take a break – you know, like a summer vacation!

Do you have a blog? Let me know why you blog and include a link to your blog, too — I’ll bookmark it!

 


7 Resources to Help Students Figure Out What They Want to Do

When I was in grade school, I wanted to be a pharmaceutical salesman. Why? Because they made a lot of money and played golf all day. Then, after I realized I couldn’t play golf well, I moved on to culinary school. But, that takes years to climb up the food chain – no pun intended. After culinary school, I was interested in becoming a graphic designer. Now, I do online marketing.

I jumped around because I never quite knew what I wanted to do.

The same is true with your students.

They are only exposed to so much throughout their middle school and high school years. They have no idea certain career paths even exist. And that’s a problem. We need to help our students explore everything – from plumbing to architecture, cooking to biology.

That’s why I put together a list of tools I found online that’ll help your students explore different career options while they still have time to decide. Let’s take a look:

1. O-Net Online

This treasure trove of a website has all the information your students will be looking for when they start to explore their career options. You can search a myriad of different ways. One of which sorts careers by the amount of preperation needed to enter the industry. That can be beneficial for students who may not want to gain a lot of post-secondary education.

2. MyMajors.com

If you’ve got high school students, send them here. They have detailed info on every major you can think of. And if your students are stuck, take them through a career test to see what the crew at MyMajors.com recommends. I wish I had this tool when I was in school.

3. Science Pioneers

When it comes to career prospects, students looking to dive into math and science should browse this website for job postings and descriptions on what life is like as scientist. And yes, we do need more of them, so encourage your students to take a look.

4. CareerKids

Not only does this site provide job descriptions, it’ll give your students salary information (so they make sure they’re in a job that’ll pay for the big yacht they want :P). When they find a job they’re interested in, CareerKids has articles to help students figure it all out. Plus, there’s a section to help craft your student’s first resume.

5. WordPress

Yes, it’s not a career website, but I firmly believe your students should start to make an online name for themselves as early as possible.  Do this by simply starting a blog on WordPress (this blog is hosted using WordPress). Once students start writing and ranking in Google searches, they’ll be well on their way to developing their own career.

6. 25 Tough Job Interview Questions

It’s great if your students know what they want to do, but what about landing a job in their chosen industry? They have to get past the interview! And they’re not easy when you’re 15 or 16 years old. This resource from the Huffington Post provides a list of questions your students should be ready to answer.

7. 9 Amazing Teen Entrepreneurs

Many students think they have to follow a traditional career path. Not so! Teen entrepreneurship is on the rise and this article highlights 9 amazing teen entrepreneurs who started their own business – and they’re successful. Don’t let your students count it out quite yet.

Does your school have a career services department? Do the counselors help your students identify what they may be good at? Truth is, your students could switch jobs and industries several times in their lives. Just this past week, I met a Sales Manager at a cookie company whose background is in engineering. You never know. But, with these sites, your students will have a better idea of what they want to be when they grow up.


QuizBean featured on KillerStartups.com

As an ed-tech startup, we love free press. Today, we got more free press. Emma, one of several incredibly talented writers at KillerStartups.com chose to feature QuizBean because we have a vision to disrupt education and how teachers assess their students.

The article, which launched this afternoon, also highlights our parent company, Bluehouse Group, who’s team has been building QuizBean for over a year now. It’s press like this that gets us super excited. Excited that we’re making a splash in the edtech community.

Thanks to Emma and the KillerStartups team for writing about us.

Here’s a link to the article:

http://www.killerstartups.com/rising-startup-stars/quizbean/


I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework.

8 Reasons You Should Have More Guest Speakers in Your Classroom

Guest speakers for your classroom

Having a guest speaker in your classroom is probably better than when the TV on wheels rolled into your classroom. They’re new, fresh, and hopefully engaging.

Many teachers bring in guest speakers to illustrate points in their lesson plans, and give students a break, but I believe guest speakers have the power to do so much more. Here are 8 reasons you should invite more guest speakers into your classroom:

1. It’s a break from your teaching

Hate to say it, but students are probably bored of your teaching methods and class. Break up the monotony with a guest speaker. They’ll speak at a different pace, use different teaching aids, and engage with students differently. Plus, it’s an opportunity for students to interact with unfamiliar people and get comfortable talking to other adults – always a plus for networking down the road!

2. Students have the opportunity to learn something new

This is my favorite reason on the list because I love to learn something new. When I had scientists come in to class, travelers, and even firefighters, I learned a ton – even if it had nothing to do with the class I was in. Learning new, interesting things is part of education, and guest speakers are often overlooked as one of the better sources.

3. It supports subjects you may not know a lot about

Have you ever gotten to a point in your semester’s curriculum where it might be better for someone else to teach the section? That’s a perfect scenario for guest speakers (or another teacher if that’s easier). Having another person teach a quick section of your class is a nice break for students – and it lends a different perspective, as I point out below.

4. Creates amazing community relations

A lot of schools struggle with good “town-gown” relations. Some are disliked by the community while others prosper. One of the best ways to get in good graces is by working with community leaders and organizations to bring in their staff to speak to students about what they do and how it relates to the curriculum. You’ll be making new friends in town in no time.

5. Give professionals a chance to connect with students

There are many professionals who would jump at the chance to come speak to a classroom full of your students. If you’re an elementary school teacher, interactive science demos would be neat. In middle school? How about a world-travel presentation from someone who’s done a lot of globe-trotting? And if you teach high school students, what about an intro to personal finance or a college admissions counselor? At any level, reach out to businesses in your area. You’d be surprised at what you find.

6. Parents love participating in their kid’s class

Bring your parent to work day is super-fun. But, what if someone has a not-so-fun job? (I mean, how long can you listen to an accountant talk about what they do?) Offer another option like displaying a hobby or fun side project they worked on. Parents like to be involved and see that their child is proud of them – and vice versa.

7. There are important lessons to learn

Sometimes it takes a guest speaker to hammer a point home. Whether it’s from their personal or professional experience guest speakers have the chance to make an impact. For example, when I was going through driver’s education, we listened to a father who lost his daughter in an auto accident because she wasn’t wearing a seat belt. Lesson learned. I don’t turn the car on until I have my seat belt on.

8. It’s just fun

You see your student’s smiles on their faces when someone amazing walks through the door. That’s what makes it all worth it — especially when you bring in someone students know. I remember when my college would host a speaker series. The excitement on campus was unforgettable.

Have you brought a lot of guest speakers into your classroom? How do they benefit your students? Do they detract from the curriculum? I’d love to start a discussion about why you’re pro or con on bringing in guest speakers. Start the discussion off below.

 


The Broken Feedback Loop in Education (Plus 4 Ways to Fix It)

Education's Broken Feedback Loop

“A+, Michael! Job well done.” I looked down at the English paper that was just handed back to me. It couldn’t have been that good. I wrote it in a couple hours. Heck, I probably didn’t even cite correctly.

Was it truly an A+ paper?

I flipped through the pages (spotting several spelling errors) and there’s a tiny red pen mark at the end of that paper. That’s it. There was nothing wrong?

Where’s the feedback?

This doesn’t just happen to me. It happens to thousands of students every day. They receive poor feedback from teachers who, quite frankly, have gotten lazy. Not a mark on the paper. Just a grade.

I bring this up because I saw a picture on Facebook this week that depicts a student’s “blabbing on” as an “answer” to the question. He received an A- on the short essay and clearly states the teacher won’t read his answer anyway. And he’s right.

I realize teachers have a lot on their plate, but shouldn’t they provide feedback to their students? Shouldn’t they be working with students to improve their skills?

Without feedback, students believe there’s nothing wrong with what was handed in. It’s perfect, less a few grammatical errors and maybe a typo.

This made me think I had stellar writing skills.

Until they were ripped apart by a demanding former boss with high standards. According to him, I simply could not write well. So, he taught me.

He taught me how to make logical arguments using the pyramid principle. He taught me how to keep sentences shorter. And to keep readers heading down a slippery slope until they need to take action.

It’s a different style of writing.

That’s not to say my history and English papers should be thrown out the door. It’s simply persuasive writing – something I never got exposed to in grade school. At least, not in the way I am now.

Feedback needs to improve student work.

Constructive criticism only works if students are given a chance to improve on what they turned in. Sure, there are first and second drafts, but if an assignment is poorly executed, and there’s no chance for feedback, how does the student become a better student?

Feedback is broken in education. It’s perceived as a chore for many teachers. While I haven’t been in school for a couple years, I’d like to propose a few ways of fixing the broken feedback loop:

1. Go beyond the red pen

Sometimes feedback that comes in the form of red pen is intimidating — not to mention useless. Think about other ways to provide your students with feedback. Maybe one-on-one meetings about papers or picking a student’s sample (with anonymity of course) and going over it in class. Close the cap on your red pen and start giving personalized feedback to help your students grow.

2. Work on more than a couple drafts

One and done is the worst vehicle for effective feedback. Do at least two drafts before students hand in the final assignment. This gives them plenty of time to work on what they believe is the best they can do. And it also means you have to provide actionable feedback on each draft. Do this a couple times over the semester and watch your student projects improve dramatically.

3. Incorporate peer feedback

Teachers aren’t the only ones who can provide feedback. Often times, students are the best to give advice, criticism and feedback. Why? Because students listen to other students and take their opinions to heart. Just like comforting friends after a high school break-up, they have a connection to each other you and your students will likely never have.

4. Incorporate real-world scenarios and education

Who wants to work on something that doesn’t impact their lives? Students want to make a difference. That means working on real-world projects and providing feedback on how to generate better results, write a better fundraising letter, or explain history to 3rd graders. Get your student’s hands dirty with experience and they’ll learn lots.

Feedback is only as good as the person giving it. That means poor feedback results in poor results. Work with your students to create great works of prose, models, and other projects. They’re only going to improve if you constructively tell them where and what they could improve on. Don’t make them think what they turned in is perfect.

Feedback helps students learn. And isn’t that all what we’re after?


10 of the Best Thanksgiving Resources for Teachers

Thanksgiving Resources for Teachers

One of the big movements on social media this month is the November Thankfulness Campaign. It’s when you write something you’re thankful for each day of the month (It’s also no-shave November, but that’s a story for another blog post!).

The thankfulness campaign got me thinking about Thanksgiving this morning. The food, family, and the meaning of the holiday. That prompted a quick Google search to see what was on the web to help you incorporate Thanksgiving into your curriculum. Turns out, there’s a few resources out there you should know about:

1. Scholastic’s Guide to the First Thanksgiving

Want to know literally anything about Turkey Day? This is your website. It’s got everything you could ever imagine – from history to worksheets categorized by grade. They’ve done a great job.

2. Thanksgiving Story Worksheet

What I like about this worksheet is it’s interactive. Your students read about the story of Thanksgiving and are asked questions as they progress like “What do you think the pilgrims brought with them?”. I like that it can either be done as a solo activity or a group discussion.

3. Thanksgiving Color Pages (You’ve got to color, right?)

So, this is a little bit of stretch. Coloring was always therapeutic for me in school. so I figured it might be a relaxing activity for your kids. This page has a couple print-outs for you to use. And make sure your students color inside the lines. :p

4. History of Thanksgiving from the History Channel

Video is an amazing tool for the classroom. It keeps students engaged and is a nice break from reading or using a whiteboard. This History of Thanksgiving video gives you a great overview – and it’s not dry (like some things on the History Channel).

5. Map Your Recipe

I thought this resource was unique. Enter in any recipe – let’s say pumpkin pie – and it’ll tell you where all of those ingredients originated. While Home Economics isn’t really a class anymore, this could be fun for high school students interested in cooking and the migration of ingredients throughout the world.

6. MayflowerHistory.com

With a brand-new revamped website, this guy has everything you’d want to know about the Mayflower – from a passenger list to genealogy. It’s neat to browse through everything, so head on over and take a look.

7. Thanksgiving Vocabulary

You’ve got to know the words of Thanksgiving! Here’s a list to get your students started so they’ll sound so well versed at the dinner table. Your students will blow their Grandparent’s minds when they start talking about gizzards and libations.

8. Hand-Turkey Templates

Who doesn’t love a hand-turkey? These are awesome and every student needs to make one at least once. Make this year, the year of the hand-turkey. Color and black & white templates are available here.

9. Kid-Friendly Thanksgiving Recipes

Cooking is a lesson, too – and it helps bring families together (which is what Turkey Day is all about). Send your students home with recipes to make with their parents the morning of the big feast.

10. Visual History of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

And the parade. Oh, the parade. It’s a Thanksgiving tradition. And it turns out there’s a ton of history behind it. The great part about this site is it’s a visual slideshow. Interaction for the win! Enjoy the visual history behind one of America’s largest parades!

What Thanksgiving resources have you found that help teach the meaning of Thanksgiving to your students? List them below in the comments and I’ll add them to the list.


Assessing Your Students Just Got Easier: QuizBean Launches New Features

It’s Michael from QuizBean. Things have gotten way too exciting around here. Lots of teachers are signing up and using QuizBean in their classrooms daily. But, I’m here to tell you, QuizBean has gotten a whole lot more awesome.

QuizBean is now your go-to online tool for instant student assessment. You can check it out now or read more about it below.

What’s new with QuizBean:

Save hours of hand grading with InstantScore
Results are automatically send to your dashboard when students complete your quiz. That means you instantly know how your students did and where they may have tripped up.

Easily send quizzes to any of your students
Whether you want to send a quiz to students who stayed after school for extra help or an entire biology class, the choice is yours. Simply make a quiz, assign it to students, and hit send. It’s that easy.

Quickly add students and classes
QuizBean allows you to manage your students and classes from a simple-to-use dashboard. See who has taken each quiz and their score all on one screen.

Ready to discover the new QuizBean?

When you login to QuizBean, you’ll see your account has room for 26 students and unlimited classes. Plus, all the quizzes you’ve created will be there, too.

Take me to my QuizBean account!


5 Ways Class Participation Goes Beyond Raising Your Hand

“Half of you have a C- in class participation right now.”

My heart sank. Was I really failing that bad in class participation? The part of my grade that is usually so easy to get an “A” in?

The class was Trends in Modern Thought. It was to fulfill my social sciences requirement to graduate. The material was thick as mud. It was a tough class (somehow I received an A). And class participation was actually graded. The professor observed who talked and who didn’t.

I raised my hand and said what I thought was right. I was wrong every time. But, I participated.

You don’t have to make class participation that hard or impossible to reach. It should be fun and easy to participate in your class – not terrifying and impossible.

Here are 5 creative ways to check if your students are participating:

1. Seeing you for help

That story above with the C- in class participation? What helped me in that class was going to see my professor for extra help. I wasn’t going to let him intimidate me – I wanted an A (or at least a B+). If students want extra help from you – before or after school – view that as class participation. They want to do better. It takes a lot for students to realize they need help and ask for it. Reward the students who seek help with class participation points.

2. Participating in a discussion

This is the classic class participation strategy. But, I want to take it one step further. I believe participating in a classroom discussion doesn’t simply mean one or two-word answers to easy questions. It means making a meaningful contribution to the discussion – even if other students disagree. All the more for a lively debate, right?

3. Helping other students

Just because your students don’t raise their doesn’t mean they’re not participating. If you notice students working together in pairs or teams and certain students are helping others to understand concepts, I’d count that as participation. While it’s not participation with you, it shows your students are willing to teach concepts they understand to their classmates. I’d argue that’s even better than simply raising your hand.

4. Writing summaries of readings

I had a college professor who would check off on his student roster if you participated that class or not. For his intro classes, you had to raise your hand, but for 300 and 400-level classes he offered the option of submitting reading summaries that were 500 words or less. And that would count as your participation. While I only took advantage of it once or twice, I enjoyed having the option if the reading made little to no sense at the time. Try the summary idea with your students and see what they think.

5. Showing up

I write this one mainly for the college crowd, but even for the K-12 teachers. Your students have to show up to class to participate. Having perfect attendance could be a great way to motivate students. And make sure to allow for an absence or two because of family matters or sports. It’ll help your introverted students, too. (But, they should be doing one of the above strategies).

Class participation helps students who would otherwise be quiet, be engaged in your classroom. And it’s important to note that participation doesn’t have to mean raising their hand and speaking in front of everyone. There are other ways to incorporate everyone into your lesson.

Do you do anything creative to get your students talking? Let me know in the comments below.