She Hired Me! Betty Shiver, the woman who convinced me to become a teacher

Betty Shiver on episode 194 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

In today’s show, Betty Shiver, my former curriculum director and the person who convinced me to become a teacher and I talk about teaching. We discuss hiring, inspiring, and having conversations that inspire people to change and improve their classrooms.

FlexPath – only at Capella University – lets teachers work at their own pace to earn their MEd in a competency-based learning format. This subscription-based tuition model doesn’t limit the number of courses you can complete during each 12-week period, enrolling in up to two courses at once, for one flat tuition rate. Go to to get your free FlexPath guide and see if Capella’s FlexPath option is right for you.

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Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure.For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.


Enhanced Transcript

The Person Who Hired Me to Teach

Link to show:
Date: Thursday, November 16, 2017

Vicki: This week for the 10-Minute Teacher, we are running a couple of extended episodes. I wanted to talk to some people in my life for who I am really thankful for their presence.

Who is Betty Shiver?

Today, we have Ms. Betty Shiver. She was my curriculum director for many, many years. She also convinced me to go into teaching. If you want to know the secret behind who I am, it’s really because Ms. Betty has been there all these years. You would not see anything that I have on my blog without here. In fact, when I started blogging I went to her and said, “I’m doing this crazy thing called blogging. Will you read my blog?” She was kind of my accountability partner here on campus.

So, Ms. Betty, first of all… I was in the business world and you saw me and somehow you convinced me to try out teaching for a year. You’re kind of known for finding people who would make great teachers. I’m trying not to compliment myself, but there are other people that you’ve found who have just gone on to win all kinds of awards as well.

What do you look for to figure out who would make a great teacher?

Betty: Woooo. I guess I look for people with enthusiasm, people who like people (especially children), somebody intelligent, somebody who has energy and passion… Somebody who wants to do something and is excited… Somebody who is… I don’t know, it’s just that “something” and that gleam in the eye.

It’s not something you can put your finger on, but you can just see it — that “it” in people who want to do something special. They want to give. They want to effect.

And where in the world can you do more than teaching children? How can you effect the world more than in shaping the next generation? I don’t know. If you look at enough people, if you talk to them, you can just see it. You can just see it there.

Vicki: Now, you’ve been teaching for more than thirty years, and you love kids. But also, I just remember for example, when Flat Classroom happened. So many of the projects in my classroom happened because I went to you, and we had conversations.

You’re kind of famous for having conversations that spark change, and this is a difficult thing in many schools.

What’s your strategy for helping us teachers change and innovate?

I really don’t know how you do it. It’s kind of like I woke up one day and realized that all of the big things I’ve done have kind of come from a conversation with you. It’s like, What’s your secret? I want to know it, too!”

Betty: I guess it starts with listening to people. One of the things I do best is go to people and listen, “What are you doing? What do you want to do?”

“Well, if I can’t do that, why don’t we try something out…” And that’s where it starts.

Ideas. I got so many ideas from you. Then I just kind of took the ideas and ran with it.

It’s all in the approach with people. You approach, then you listen, then you suggest, and then you say, “Why don’t we try…” It’s kind of a gradual thing, that you get people to try new things or new ideas.

But the main thing is that you do it with them. You get them to buy in if YOU buy in. You become part of the process. If you do, then people will just about follow you anywhere if you’re with them. If you do it with them.

Vicki: So how do you make people feel like you’re with them? Because you know… I don’t know how you are where you are to have these conversations happen. (laughs)

DO you have habits? Do you like to walk the building? Do you like to pop in on people? How do you allow this, and nurture these conversations?

How do you nurture change-making conversations?

Betty: Yeah… Drop in whenever they’re free — before school, after school. You kind of become part of their personal lives in a way. “How’s your family? What’s going on with you?” You listen.

“What’s going on with your projects?” You know, what’s going on in their classroom. In so many ways, teachers are isolated. They like to talk about what they’re doing, and so sometimes you just listen.

When you listen and they know you’re interested and they’re open to what you have to say — because you’re’ open to what they have to say. So it’s kind of a two-way street.

Vicki: What do you think some of the biggest mistakes are that school leaders make? I mean it might be a curriculum leader. It might be whoever.

What are the biggest mistakes that people make in schools that make it hard to help teachers change?

Betty: Again, I think it’s (not) listening to them. I think the smartest people in our schools are the people in the classrooms, because they’re in the trenches.

I think sometimes big decisions — big sweeping decisions — are made that don’t concern the teachers, that don’t concern the children, and aren’t in the best welfare of the bottom line, (rather than) the children themselves. I think that’s a huge mistake.

When I think about why… “Why don’t kids read? Why can’t kids read?” That’s a big mystery to me. “Why do kids that can’t read come out of schools?”

We can teach children to read. It’s a lot of work. But I can’t understand WHY (laughs) those things don’t happen! They should.

Vicki: So, it’s listening. It’s really paying attention.

Betty: I think it is. I mean, there are a lot of good answers out there, if somebody’s willing to listen, and then try to make them happen.

Vicki: So, when you think back over thirty years, what do you think one of your biggest mistakes was? And you have to be careful, because we’re both at the same school, and we don’t name names, and all that. But just big picture, “I wish that I had done this differently.”

What are your biggest mistakes?

Betty: My biggest mistake was in my early years, when I just didn’t know any better.

I didn’t know anything about learning disabilities. I didn’t know that there were children that couldn’t learn normally. I mean, somewhere in the back of my mind, I had to have known something. But I look back and see the way that I treated some children, and… and… I hate it!

I feel so guilty about what I didn’t do for some children. I think that’s my biggest regret… the things that I didn’t know when I was younger, when I was in the classroom. Things I didn’t do.

Vicki: You know, learning differences or learning disabilities are just so hard, and that’s near and dear to your heart and my heart both. We’ve seen the kids who overcome and go on to do great things.

Do you have a moment that you think, “OK, this is one of my proud moments…” Like, “This is awesome. This is why I do this job.

What is a proud moment?

Betty: I think… maybe… when I got an email from a student who had left. She’d been gone 15 years. Oh, it was Facebook, and I got a message from her. She told me that she was getting her Masters Degree in Special Ed.

And she said, “Ms. Betty, I wanted you to know. I’ve been meaning to send this to you for years. You’re the reason that I’m in education. You’re the reason that I’m doing what I do.”

I taught her in middle school, and she was one of those kids… I always picked two children every year, wrote their names down, and I was going to give special attention to. She was one of my kids that year. I went to her ballgames, and I took her home because she had struggles at home.

But then when she graduated, she had troubles, she had lots of issues that I heard about through the grapevine. And then, you know, I wasn’t in touch with her.

And then out of the blue… that message came.

So I think, yeah. I think that’s one of the most wonderful things about being in education or being a teacher. You never know who you’ve touched, or how you’ve them.

And so, yeah. Those things kind of keep you going.

Vicki: So as we finish up, you said, “You give me so many quotes. And I quote you all of the time.” One of them is that, “Great teachers are repeaters.”

Betty: (laughs)

Vicki: (laughs)

Because we just have to repeat ourselves so much and it’s ridiculous, but we do. We have to remind kids, “Why are you here? How do you act?” and that’s just one of the things that you do.

But what do you think makes a great teacher? What’s your word, to all the teachers listening, about, “OK. Do this. Because that makes you a great teacher.”

What makes a great teacher?

Betty: Respect for each child, regardless of their ability, regardless of their temperament. You respect them as a person.

Fairness. There are a lot of definitions of fairness. But you treat each child fairly.

I think if you can respect them and treat them fairly, you’ll get that back. And if you do that, then you can teach them.

Vicki: OK, I have to do one more question. This is already an extended episode.

What makes you furious?

Betty: When kids aren’t treated fairly. When their needs are not put first in the classroom. When teachers just don’t look at kids as people with feelings and needs and lives outside of school. They just don’t “see” them. I just think that’s so sad. And it hurts as much as it makes you angry. And there are some things that you just can’t fix… and that makes me furious.

Vicki: Yeah. Because life is a bear, and it’s tough. But you know, teaching’s worth it.

I really don’t know how you convinced me to become a teacher.

Betty: (laughs) I don’t either!

Vicki: (laughs) But I will go on the record and say that basically, what I remember is that you said, “I think that you would make a great high school teacher.”

I was teaching some college classes at the time, and I had my own business. It was totally not on my radar. But I will say that at the time, I knew that one of my three kids had a learning difference, and I knew that there was technology to learn. So I think that was a part of the equation.

What I remember is that Ms. Betty said, “Give it a year, and let’s see what you think.” (laughs)

That was 16 years ago. (laughs)

Betty: And I was desperate at the time, too! (laughs)

Vicki: (laughs)

Yeah. She had kind of been left without a technology teacher at the last minute. I think it was about a month before school started or something. And we did a year. And we traveled the world together. We’ve been to Qatar and Mumbai…

Betty: And Dubai.

Vicki: And Dubai.

We’ve been a lot of places together. It’s been exciting.

One thing that we’ve done is this whole immersion thing… when we travel. The kids back home immerse. And I think that’s kind of been neat, hasn’t it?

Betty: It has.

Vicki: Yeah.

Betty: And we did the Flint River Project, which was a great curriculum project, maybe one of the best we’ve ever done.

Vicki: I think the Flint River Project is probably the single best project I’ve ever seen in my life.

Describe that for us a little bit.

What was the Flint River project?

Betty: We took the whole ninth grade and broke them up…

Vicki: Actually, it was the whole high school, wasn’t it?

Betty: Yeah. The whole high school. We broke them across class groupings into science and social studies and English and math, and…

Vicki: I had a technology group.

Betty: We had — what was it? Four days? And we did the science group who canoed the river, did water testing and biology. We tramped through the river.

We had the history group who did a dig.

The English group wrote poetry on the river and did photography.

And the math group… and the technology group… I don’t remember what all we did. They all had to blog, and they had to post pictures. Then everybody did presentations. Everybody participated. All of the teachers participated. Well, it was just a great project.

Vicki: Yeah. It was hard work.

But a lot of the kids from that time say it was one of the greatest projects.

Well, this week, as we talk about things that we’re thankful for, I am very thankful for Ms. Betty Shiver… and for her mentoring all of these years… and all that she’s done for students, because it’s all about the kids. She’s helped me adjust my thinking when I messed up. I have messed up a lot.

I just appreciate that — and this is for all of you school leaders out there — if you’re the kind of person that you can go to with your problem, and not feel condemned for having that problem? (If you can) actually feel like, “Let’s try this,” or “Let’s try to do that,” instead of just making you feel — I hate to say — like an idiot.

Ms. Betty has never made me feel like I was dumb or couldn’t do it. But she was a fellow traveler on the journey. I think that school leaders can learn a lot from her. Honestly, if you look at all of my stuff? Her fingerprints are everywhere, because she’s tried a lot of stuff with me, and she’s encouraged me, and helped me become a much better teacher.

So I hope you’ve enjoyed this journey into someone I’m thankful for.

And I look forward to sharing other episodes.

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford

Bio as submitted

Betty has been in education since 1968, first starting as a language arts teacher. She has been teaching at Westwood Schools in Camilla, Georgia since 1980 and served as interim headmaster from 2001-2002. Betty Shiver has been the curriculum direct at Westwood Schools for many years. Although she recently “retired” from that job, she still teaches composition to ninth graders.

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.) This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

The post She Hired Me! Betty Shiver, the woman who convinced me to become a teacher appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

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Brent Johnson: My student’s views on learning and teaching

Brent Johnson on episode 193 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Brent Johnson is a senior at Westwood Schools. He has taken my classes for the last four years. We have a frank conversation about technology and a win in the National 4H Competition as a result of some apps he made in my class. Brent has come a long way! I hope you find this conversation inspiring.

FlexPath – only at Capella University – lets teachers work at their own pace to earn their MEd in a competency-based learning format. This subscription-based tuition model doesn’t limit the number of courses you can complete during each 12-week period, enrolling in up to two courses at once, for one flat tuition rate. Go to to get your free FlexPath guide and see if Capella’s FlexPath option is right for you.

Listen Now


Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.


Enhanced Transcript

Brent Johnson: My student’s views on learning and teaching


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Vicki: This week on the 10-Minute Teacher, we’re talking with some people who I’m very thankful for in my life.

Today I wanted to bring one of my students – I have so many students I love, so many students that I admire throughout the years – but Brent is one of my students who has recently won an award for something he did in my class. He actually won this at 4-H.

How some app projects helped Brent win some awards from 4-H

Tell us about your 4-H project that has earned you the trip to the National Conference.

Brent: Well, I’ve been in 4-H for the past seven years, and I’ve actually been doing district project achievements for the last four.

In my District Project Achievement speech, I speak on the apps that I’ve made in Ms. Vicki’s classroom. I’ve made two apps, and those two apps have brought me so far. I’ve competed in district last fall. I placed first there. Then I went to state congress, and then I also placed first there. Now I get to go to national congress, which is a little bit later this year.

Using Humor to Hook Students into Learning

Vicki: But these apps… Some people could say, “Oh, all apps have to be serious.” But tell us about the topic for your apps. I’ll put the links in the Shownotes. One of them is just hilarious.

Brent: Well, funny enough, my first app was made a joke, really. It was just me and my friends just wanting to mess around. We made a recipe app for nachos, of all things that we could have made a recipe for. I mean, we could literally have done chicken, steak… But no. Nachos.

Vicki: And you have the funniest film shoot I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

Brent: Yes…

Vicki: Tell us about it.

Brent: Well, we got a kiddie pool, about 20 bags of tortilla chips… And we took a bath in nachos.

Vicki: (laughs) I literally was hurting so badly. My face was hurting. My ribs were hurting. I could hardly even breathe.

Brent: I was getting salt out of my pants for weeks.

Vicki: OK, that’s a little TMI. (laughs) I might take that one out.

I think the point is here. The first app was literally a joke.

Brent: A joke, yes.

How to Hook Students (without them knowing it – unless you tell them)

Vicki: Yeah, but OK. Let’s just travel through the mind of Ms. Vicki, and this is a part Brent has never seen. So I’m always looking for a hook. OK, I see these brilliant kids, really smart kids. And they might not be ready to save the world. They might just be ready to have a laugh, right?

So what you have to do is you have to say, “OK, what is going to interest them?” And I’m like, “What is it going to take?”

Brent and his friends are pretty smart. But in 9th grade? They weren’t ready to change the world.

Brent: No. (laughs)

Vicki: They weren’t ready to be serious about anything, were you?

Brent: No. (laughs) Definitely not. Not yet.

Vicki: And it was hilarious. And we laughed a lot.

Brent: Yes.

Vicki: But, you went on the next year, and what’s the app you made?

Brent: It’s called Overty. It’s a charity referral app, and it was a much more serious approach than the nacho app was.

We went in and we found trusted charities that we had pre-researched. Not all charities are good charities, so we pre-vetted the ones that are good, and we put them in our app. We gave statistics, and we gave links to those websites, and it was overall a much more professional process than Nacho app ever was.

Vicki: Yeah. But of course you took the things you learned on the Nacho app to the Overty app.

Brent: Of course, of course.

How is Technology Changing Schools?

Vicki: Both of them ended up in the finals, so neither one was a laughing matter in the end.

OK, so there’s a piece of the 4-H presentation you did, where you talk about what you think education should be. Could you share some of that – what you remember – with us?

Brent: Well, the way I see it, education is definitely changing every day. Nothing’s the same as it was ten years ago, five years ago, maybe even two years ago.

Vicki: Yeah. You think that making apps should be part of what people learn, right?

Brent: Of course, of course.

Vicki: Why?

Brent: Well, I’ve learned a lot more through making apps than I have through some of my other classes, considering that with the app-making process you have to coordinate with people. And a big part of being in the workplace later in life is working with people.

You have to come together and make this big project using technology, work together as a group and make something that is successful. That’s not something that can just be taught in a classroom. That’s something that has to be done through experience.

Vicki: Right. So, as you think about… you know, it could be my class, it could be whatever, because as you know I don’t like to ever fish for compliments, that’s just not me. What do you think are the things that have taught you the most in your high school career?

Brent: Oh, that’s a hard one.

Collective hardships is probably the single most thing that has taught me more than anything else.

You make a really bad grade in a class for the first quarter, and then the second quarter you have to dig deep and find that side of you didn’t think was there before. You have to work much harder, stay up later at night, and that’s definitely one of the things that I’ve learned.

Vicki: And you’re a runner, too. So you know what it’s like to be running behind.

Brent: I am a runner. Definitely perseverance. That’s a good one. I’m actually in all honors classes and I’m in one AP class. I’m taking the hardest rigor at the school.

I was not always the best student, but my dreams of becoming a doctor have really pushed the initiative to work harder in school. And that’s another one with perseverance, too.

How he found his dream

Vicki: How did you find that dream?

Brent: I had a hernia operation about two years ago, and my cousin, who is actually a P.A. was there through all of it. And I saw the way that he deals with people, and the way that he has the drive for the medical field.

And I talked to him about it, because you know, you’re stuck in that room for about four hours before they actually put you on the table. We had long conversation about the medical field and how he likes it.

I just decided that that’s for me. I’m a people person, and I like helping people. That’s something that I’m really interested in.

Vicki: Brent is a great example to all you listeners of someone who really has taken the most out of my class. You know, some students come to class and they get SOME. And some students take advantage of a lot more than others. So I like sharing those students with the world, so you can kind of see, “OK, this is what the student turns out like.” And I can’t take all the credit for Brent, because he’s had many great teachers.

But Brent, what would you say – let’s just focus on computer science for a minute – are the things that you learned in computer science that you think you’ll take with you?

What will you take with you from Computer Science?

Brent: Graphic design is one really big thing for me. Like, just projects in high school and for some of my college classes have taken a lot of graphic design. And Ms. Vicki taught us graphic design in computer science.

Another big one would be just learning the ins and outs of computer programs. In general, just knowing how to use a program can save you a lot of time later.

Vicki: Now, you take a lot of online classes. Do you think our class – we use a blended classroom, where we have PowerSchool Learning as our LMS (Learning Management System). Do you think that that helps prepare you for these online classes that you take?

Brent: Oh, 100%. The operating system is almost the same through the way that we learned in Ms. Vicki’s class to the way that online college is set up.

So, in Ms. Vicki’s class, we would have all of our assignments on one pane, where to go to the assignment, how to turn in the assignment, and all that.

College – it’s not like Ms. Vicki’s class where if you’re stuck or something, you can go to Ms. Vicki. College professors aren’t the same way. They don’t have as much compassion for you, and if you mess up, they can — and will — fail you.

So learning all of the programs and the operating system – and getting my stuff done on time in Ms. Vicki’s class, on my own sometimes, has really taught me to do better in college.

Vicki: But I know that the hard part about it – and the reason that a lot of teachers say, “Oh, I don’t want to blend my classroom,” – is that there is some pushback. Because it is frustrating to learn that way, don’t you think?

Talking about Blending

Brent: Oh yeah. I guess some people don’t like the fact that there are videos that they have to sit through and watch. I guess they find those boring.

Vicki: But then they also don’t want a lecture, either.

Brent: Yeah. They just don’t like learning in general.

Vicki: Yeah! (laughs) You’ve got to pick, you know?

Brent: Some people would rather sit at home. You have to take the good with the bad, under some circumstances. Honestly, I learned a lot better through the system that we had in Ms. Vicki’s class, compared to just sitting there through lectures.

I feel the stimuli in your brain work better when you’re getting… I mean, Ms. Vicki does do lectures. She has hands-on work, online work. There’s everything. You really don’t miss a thing in Ms. Vicki’s class.

Vicki: Well. You’re sweet, but…

So, is there any advice that you have for teachers to be better teachers?

Brent: Compassion. Compassion is something that’s infectious, I would say, between teachers and students. If you walk into a classroom, and you don’t get a good vibe from the class, you definitely don’t learn as well then.

If you walk in there, and a teacher gives you a smile and a “How’s your day going?” then you are definitely going to feel a lot better. You’re definitely going to pay more attention in that class. You’re not going to want to fall asleep.

Another thing? Another big thing? Being interesting. Being an interesting person, in general, is a big thing. If you’re a bland person, as a teacher and you don’t care as much about the students, then it’s a little bit harder… definitely a lot harder for students to learn in your classroom.

Vicki: That’s a great thought about teachers.

Now, I do have a question about, like, to quote your generation. And we don’t generation bash, because every generation has its weaknesses. But you talk to a lot of friends who go to other schools and other places, right?

Brent: Yes, Ma’am.

Vicki: As we finish up, could you give us a 30-second pep talk on how to actually reach your generation, for teachers who may be struggling.

Brent: I have one word that I believe that totally encompasses it… and it’s ‘Positivity.”

I feel my generation has been stereotyped, from the get-go. I’ve always heard that my generation doesn’t pay as much attention, is more unruly, and has more stuck their heads in their phones than anything. But honestly, if you look at it, you could say the same for every generation before that.

I mean, there’s always been books, newspapers, and other forms of entertainment that have always been around. I think that’s something that is just done. It’s always going to be there.

But definitely positivity toward our generation is something that is huge.

Like the negativity that is thrown at our generation is wild. There’s way too much of it. If more people could just be more positive, it would make the world a better place in general, I believe.

Vicki: What do you think the stereotypes about your generation are that people say that you think are not true?

Brent: Well, I know that one of them is that… We live in our phones.

Vicki: (laughs) You’re all taking selfies? You’re all divas?

Brent: Oh, that’s definitely not true.

The people that aren’t always in their phones don’t really get noticed as much, I guess. They’re picking one person out of a crowd that they see as a diva, and then they’re totally characterizing our entire generation by that one person.

A lot of the people are actually not that crazy about being a diva. You always see all these people on YouTube that are just wild. But in reality, that’s less than 1% of our population.

Vicki: Yeah.

Well, OK.

Well, thank you for listening. I hope you’ve pulled some things out of what Brent has shared with us.

And I am thankful for my students.

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford

Bio as submitted

Brent Johnson is a senior at Westwood Schools. He recently won his state 4H Congress and is going to nationals. Brent is hoping to attend the University of Georgia with a major in pre-med. After that, he plans to attend medical school. He has spent time his senior year shadowing in emergency rooms. He is a member of the National Honor Society and directed the class movie in last year’s film class.

The picture below was taking on a location shoot during the 2016-2017 digital filmmaking class where Brent served as director.

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.) This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

The post Brent Johnson: My student’s views on learning and teaching appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

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Flipsnack: A fun way to make interactive online magazines #edtech

Mandy Froehlich on episode 192 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Mandy Froehlich talks about a tool she uses in her classroom, Flipsnack. Learn how she uses this tool.

FlexPath – only at Capella University – lets teachers work at their own pace to earn their MEd in a competency-based learning format. This subscription-based tuition model doesn’t limit the number of courses you can complete during each 12-week period, enrolling in up to two courses at once, for one flat tuition rate. Go to to get your free FlexPath guide and see if Capella’s FlexPath option is right for you.

Listen Now


Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down


Enhanced Transcript

Flipsnack: A fun way to make interactive online magazines #edtech

From Audio File 182-Mandy-Froelich

Vicki: Happy EdTech Tool Tuesday. Today we are talking to Mandy Froelich about Flipsnack.

Mandy what is Flipsnack?

What is Flipsnack?

Mandy: So, Flipsnack is one of the lesser known tools that I love to introduce to people because people just take to it and they absolutely love it. It is an interactive flipbook creator. So, if you can imagine reading a book on Kindle, the finished product you can actually flip through like a book.

Only the … the difference between just a regular book and Flipsnack is that you can actually make the book interactive. So you can put in things like video, and the video can be videos taken from YouTube so the video can actually be created by somebody else. The students or the teachers or whatever. And you can put in images and voice recordings, and texts, and shapes, and you can really make the book more than just something that you read and make it interactive.

It’s just an absolutely fantastic tool from a student, content and also from a teacher standpoint. My recommendation is always to get the version. You get most of the pro features for free but it is limited to a class of ten students.

And the one thing that Flipsnack cannot do it … it cannot be worked on simultaneously like Google docs where two students can work on it at once. But, one of the other benefits of Flipsnack is that you can create the books in something like Google Slides. So it is collaborative …download them and then upload them into Flipsnack and it will also create your book.

Vicki: Cool, so it’s … you’re actually downloading a pdf, right?

Mandy: Yeah, right. You’re downloading to pdf, so there are some limitations. Like your videos, you have to later go into Flipsnack and put your videos in but the basic content can be created in slides and then uploaded as a pdf to Flipsnack.

Ways it is being used

Vicki: What are the some of the coolest ways you see Flipsnack used?

Mandy: Well for teacher use, I’ve seen it used for fliplearning.

So, entire units being created in a FlipSnack book and then being given to students so that they can work through the content at their own pace.

And then all the content and the videos and the images and links, they’re all in one spot for the kids to access.

I personally have used FlipSnack as a way of creating more interesting workshops instead of a powerpoint or Google Slides. I’ve seen it used as curating ideas into one book and then releasing that book to people so everybody has those ideas.

Also, people have used it to create, like we’ve had a summer technology institute, and we’ve created our schedules for that institute within FlipSnack and then shared the FlipSnack book out. We’ve used it that way for teachers but of course I think our focus should always be on student content creation.

Student Lesson Plan Ideas

And, I have seen it used in some really awesome ways. I think my absolute favorite way that I have seen it used is to use to create a newspaper that would have been given out on a specific day in history.

For example, the bombing of Pearl Harbor. What would the newspaper the next day look like when it was released? And if you want to take it even further, what would a newscast have looked like … record that newscast and then put that into what would be the interactive newspapers as well.

Or a radio show or whatever it is. Because you can do just the voice as well. I think that’s probably the coolest way I’ve seen it used.

I’ve also seen it used kind of in the same way as a sports magazine, it was a sports literature course that was using it. The students were creating the sports…like an ESPN type magazine in FlipSnack.

Vicki: So have you ever seen any mistakes? You said it’s not collaborative. What are the common mistakes that educators make when they’re trying to use FlipSnack?

Mandy: You know, it’s such an easy tool to use that I haven’t seen … I haven’t had an educator come back to me and say,“Ah I hated FlipSnack. You know, I did have an educator say to me once I like to use it for student portfolios. I don’t think that it’s probably the best tool for student portfolios. I think there are so many awesome tools out there for that, that would be better.

But, I think you could try it, and see how it worked. But, I have never had an educator come back to me and say oh I didn’t like FlipSnack for this purpose. It’s such a great tool that people really, really like it with their kids. Students absolutely love it.

Vicki: Cool. Ok, what where you going to say just a minute ago?

More Ideas for Flipsnack

Mandy: I was just going to give a couple more ideas. I’ve also seen it used as presenting a business and marketing plan for everything from graphical advertisements and kids making commercials and embedding that information. And then also from an elementary standpoint, I had a teacher use it in lieu of … she used to have her students write personal narratives and then they would bind the book together as a classroom set and put it in the library. And all the kids would look at it once and then nobody ever looked at it again. Parents couldn’t really look at it unless they were in the library for parent-teacher conferences or whatever. So she had her kids actually log into a shared account and write theirs in one of the FlipSnack books. And then they were able to produce that book and share it with parents, and grandparents, and embed it in their classroom website. It was a more authentic way to showcase the student work than just having it one spot in the library. So that was a great way from an elementary standpoint to use FlipSnack.

Vicki: Well, how did you find out FlipSnack?

Mandy: I think that I was touring a school one time and one of the teachers were talking to us about their one to one and just brought up FlipSnack as one of the tools that they used. I looked at it and loved it right away. And so I use it for quite a bit of PD and things like that and introduce it to teachers a lot. So, it was from another teacher that I’m pretty sure I heard about it.

Vicki: Ok, so how can a teacher get started with FlipSnack without getting overwhelmed?

How to get started

Mandy: Ok, so again if a teacher goes to sign up for FlipSnack they need to make sure that they sign up for the edu account. The .edu account is a little bit buried in the website. It’s best if you scroll all the way down to the bottom and there’s an .edu option and that brings you right to that part of the website. So, sign up for the .edu account. The one thing that I’ve heard about signing up for the .edu account is that sometimes it takes twenty-four hours for some of the pro features to be free in account. I have run into some teachers where immediately they would contact me and say ah some of those features aren’t free. But it actually took a little while for the account to become that free pro account. So give it a day if it looks like some of those aren’t free. But, the user interface is very, very, user-friendly. It’s drag and drop. All of the options are across the top like a toolbar where you can access the videos and the tags and you have access to both a bank of video and images as well as Google images as well as things you want to upload. Along the bottom, it has all your pages and it looks like another other kind of presentation type software you have used. So it looks like Google slides where you can see each of the slides and then it takes it and puts it into a book. So once you get the account up and you create a book, everything that you do is drag and drop into what looks like any other kind of presentation. And then it puts it all together as a book. The most difficult thing is to remember that your pages, like your front pages are first, it’s a lone page. And every page after that is connected in the middle. So every two pages go together. Once you get …once you understand that you can get kids to understand that. Then they can visualize how the book is going together a little bit better. Otherwise, it’s very drag and drop; very simple to use.

Vicki: So, check the Shownotes, I’ll make sure to link to the .edu account. Mandy Froelich has really given us a fantastic tool for EdTechToolTuesday ! So, get out there, innovate like a turtle, and try something new this week. Try FlipSnack!

Transcribed by Lisa Durff

Bio as submitted

Mandy Froehlich is the Director of Innovation and Technology for the Ripon Area School District in Ripon, Wisconsin where she supports and encourages educators to create innovative change in their classrooms. In addition, Mandy supports professional learning as Director of the Collaborate, Inspire & Innovate Conference in Ripon, WI, as well as her Organizer and Public Relations Coordinator roles for edCamp Oshkosh in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. She consults with school districts around the state in the effective use of technology to support great teaching, as a Google for Education Certified Trainer, and has presented on similar topics at conferences such as Midwest Google Summit, TIES in Minnesota, and ISTE. Currently, one of her favorite projects includes the NEW IT Alliance Committee which works with IT professionals in the public and private sectors to create a focus on future IT careers for students.


Twitter: @froehlichm

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.) This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

The post Flipsnack: A fun way to make interactive online magazines #edtech appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

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Amazing Grace Adkins – my 89 year old learning lab director and the most amazing woman I know

Grace Adkins on episode 191 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Mrs. Grace Adkins is a hero, mentor, and teacher to many. With a 56-year generation-spanning career as an educator, Mrs. Adkins approaches her 90th birthday still teaching, loving kids, and riding over 100 miles on her bike each week. Meet a truly remarkable woman and a personal mentor, Mrs. Grace Adkins.

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Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.


Enhanced Transcript

Amazing Grace Adkins – my 89 year old learning lab director and the most amazing woman I know

Monday, November 13, 2017

Vicki: This week we’re airing some special episodes of interviews of people that I am particularly thankful for in my life.

Now, Ms. Grace Adkins was my fourth-grade teacher and an inspiration to me. She has been teaching for 56 years. She is our Learning Lab Director here at Westwood Schools. I can tell you, in my life, she’s probably the most amazing person that I know.

She inspires me every day. I want to be like her when I grow up. She is just an incredible person.

So, Ms. Adkins, you’ve taught for 56 years, so you’ve taught for quite some time, and you’re not even slowing down yet. You don’t look like it at all, and you’re getting close to that 90th birthday there.

What keeps you in education?

What keeps you in education?

Grace: There’s always another child to help. And you don’t give up on children.

Vicki: Now you have some amazing kids that people had given up on. Tell us some of the things that your students who struggle with learning differences are now doing.

Grace: Well, I have one that is a vascular surgeon. He wrote everything backwards, had ADHD, and we had an educational prescription that we filled – and his parents filled at home – and he didn’t give up. His family didn’t give up. And WE didn’t give up. And so there he is.

And of course, I have many others, too, that you wonder if they’re going to make it. But you keep on working with them every day. And… they make it. Big time! (laughs)

Vicki: Yeah. I mean, two of my children have learning differences. And you just always helped me coach.

What’s your secret for not giving up?

What’s your secret for not giving up?

Grace: Well, that gives me a reason to get up every morning! I get up at 3:00, ride my exercise bike 10 miles, drive 18 miles to school. So I’m inspired to meet whatever comes each day.

Vicki: So let’s talk about that routine, because actually, you have some family members who have ended up on the radio in Atlanta because nobody can believe your routine. Tell us your routine of what you do in a typical day.

Grace: Well, I just told you part of what I do, but I get up and I ride my bike 10 miles in the morning. And then I have my morning devotional.

I am the guidepost for a book of devotions that Mr. Woodruff funded. I didn’t know he did that until after he was dead.

And then I have another Bible study that I do every morning. And then I write down quotes that I want to go through the day with. You know, we’re never alone. We always have somebody with us. The Lord provides.

Vicki: Now you read more than anybody I know.

Grace: Oh, I read 30 or 40 books a year.

Vicki: When do you read?

Grace: Well, I read some this morning. I’m now reading another book by Pat Williams.

Vicki: Oh, we love Pat Williams! Ms. Adkins and I talk books all the time.

Who is this Mr. Woodruff?

Now, we want the listeners to know about who this amazing Mr. Woodruff is, that Ms. Adkins is talking about. Would you tell us what your husband did, and a little bit about Mr. Woodruff because he’s really instrumental in us even having a Learning Lab here at Westwood.

Grace: Well, my husband and I moved to the plantation when we were 27 years old.

Vicki: And we’re talking about Ichauway Plantation in Baker County.

Grace: Mr. R.W. Woodruff. He was one of the greatest men I ever knew. He wanted to help everybody and make a difference. He started his plantation in 1928. The year we were born, my husband and I. And then my husband was there from age 27 until he died at age 80. He was still a consultant for the plantation.

But Mr. Woodruff, when he bought the plantation, saw someone have what they call a “rigor.” And he asked what was wrong with that man. And they said, “Well, he has malaria.”

Vicki: That went on to become the CDC (Center for Disease Control). Of course, Mr. Woodruff’s claim to fame, I guess, is being the head of Coca-Cola. And I have to say that my husband, Kip, also works at the Joseph W. Jones Ecological Center, which is on Ichauway Plantation now. So we do have quite a love of that.

Grace: There’s just no end to what he’s done.

Vicki: Yes. There are many, many books on Mr. Woodruff. I think the thing that’s amazing about Ms. Adkins is that so many of his habits – his habit of reading, his love of people, his desire to make a difference – are all part of who you are, too. You’ve kind of spread that to us, to me.

Let’s go back to learning differences. I know some people call them disabilities, but I just feel like everybody learns differently.

Pioneering Work With Learning Disabilities

So you were one of the pioneers in reaching kids with learning disabilities. Tell us what you did.

Grace: Well… the first year I taught was 1946. It was my mission from then on to find out why bright children did not always do well in school. I knew they were bright. From 1946 on, that was my mission to find out.

It took me 30 years, because I was in the Reading Department.

And your answers are not in reading.

I met a neuropsychologist after 30 years. So the way to reach these children is through neurology and psychology applied to education. That’s what we’ve done since 1976.

Vicki: That was Dr. Wagner, right?

Grace: (agrees) And then I met another neuropsychologist. I’d been all over the country to international conferences. This other neuropsychologist that I heard speak in Atlanta in 1981, again in 1983 in Washington D.C., and again in New York in 1986. Then I flew her down here.

Vicki: What was her name?

Grace: Dr. Rosa Hagin. The Center in New York Medical Center was named for her.

I flew her down from New York to Atlanta, and my daughter brought her here to try to help us at Westwood.

Now what I found in 1981 was an evaluation she and Dr. Archie Silver had developed at the Rosa Hagan Center. It was to identify pre-academic skills necessary for academic success.

So from that, I came back. A friend of mine Louise Stevenson. I said, “I found what I’ve been looking for – an evaluation to identify those children that don’t have the necessary skills to be in academics. We started using it, and she said, “Rosa Hagin, a college classmate, and was voted the most likely to succeed.”

Vicki: That’s the Search and Teach Program

Grace: (agrees)

Vicki: … Which is really the reason that all of our kids are reading… Pretty much most of our kids are reading at the end of K-4.

Grace: I found another evaluation, and I got the school psychologist up on it. She evaluates our 3-year-olds leaving – some of them are 4 by then, leaving that program. And we have an evaluation on them when they leave the 3-year program now.

Vicki: What’s the name of that program?

Grace: Well, it tells whether their social skills and all different types of skills that are necessary for success – whether they are in place or developing.

The Learning Lab Organization

Vicki: People all over the world, I guess, can understand. She always has guests coming in and watching what we’re doing in the Lab. So much of it is one-on-one personal attention, isn’t it, Ms. Adkins?

Grace: (agrees) It is. All of the work is done one-on-one in the Lab.

We have children in the elementary side through fifth grade. If they have a prescription, we bring them in. At first, we do the Search Screening and give them two weeks to get into their routine while we grade summer work. Then we start filling those Search prescriptions and they’re psychological. And that’s one-on-one.

Vicki: Now all these years that I’ve struggled having two of my three kids with learning differences, you’ve always encouraged me. What do you tell the parents who are listening who – they know their child is bright. They look in their eyes. They know they’re bright. But right now, they’re just not performing. What do you say to those parents?

Grace: I tell them, “Don’t give up.” We see possibilities in each child. And we don’t stop until we find out how they learn. We develop a program fitted to them.

Vicki: Yeah. But that can be done anywhere, right? Not everybody can come and be in your Lab. You’ve done – you know, there are some parents who know that their child is bright, and they can’t find anybody to help them.

Grace: Well, I’m having that all the time, from all over southwest Georgia and from the Florida panhandle and Orlando. All around, they’ve brought their children for me to evaluate.

Vicki: But you know, here’s the thing… Doesn’t it make you angry when kids aren’t able to get the help they need?

Grace: Well… I try not to let that happen if I meet them.

I saw a lady in the doctor’s office yesterday, Dr. Goldsmith. And I saw these two little boys smiling, and she was. When I sat down, of course, I spoke with them. They were looking so pleased. She said, “I know you. You taught my little boys. And I couldn’t bring them from Worth County, but I’m homeschooling him, doing what you told me to do.”

And I told the little boy – he’s sixth grade now – and I said, “I taught Dr. Goldsmith in sixth grade.”

Vicki: Ahhhh…

Grace: And that’s who he was seeing. So, the parent is feeling what we had set up.

Vicki: So, Ms. Adkins, have you ever made a mistake? What do you think your biggest mistake is that you might have ever made, somewhere in that teaching career?

Grace: Well… I don’t know. Every problem I saw, I tried to solve. And I didn’t stop until I found a solution. You can’t give up when it’s a child’s life.

Vicki: Yes.

Teaching the Whole Child

Grace: One of my students on the board told me the other day, “I know the ‘artist’ because you taught me in third grade and sixth grade.

Vicki: She always brought artists in and then checked them out from the library, and so we all know our artwork. It’s not just about reading and writing and arithmetic. It’s about living life.

Grace: You teach the whole child.

Vicki: Yes.

So as we finish up, I know that recently you got certified for Growing Leaders, so you’re still educating yourself often.

Organizing Finances

One time you told me something about how you organize your money. I don’t know if you remember the percentages.

Grace: I have a young lady who does houses, and she doesn’t do anybody’s but mine now, but she’s going to do mine. She’s gone into photography and made a lot of money going into photography. So she quit doing houses.

The first time she ??? on Phillip Phillips. She was the photographer. She came to my house on Saturday, and she walked in and said she was going to give her money to give her first 10% to the Lord. She’s going to give all that money.

I said, you’ve got to get on this 70-10-10-10 (plan). You live on the 70%. You put 10% on a passbook savings. You put 10% like if you need a new camera…

She said, “Oh I do need a new camera!”

And the other 10%…

Vicki: It’s your tithe, isn’t it?

Grace: Oh yes. Tithing. It’s 10% to tithe, 10% to passbook savings, 10% to buy new equipment. If you need a lawnmower, buy a lawnmower.

And she said, “Oh I do need…”

Vicki: You invest in yourself, and you invest in the things that you need.

Grace: That’s right.

Vicki: And it just makes so much sense.

So you’re big into motivational books and motivational quotes. You’re kind of one of the first people that really – besides my mom, who got me into reading.

Who are your favorite authors?

Who are your favorite authors?

Grace: Well, Pat WilliamsDr. Henry Cloud

Vicki: Love Henry Cloud…

Grace: Andy Andrews… and those are, in the last 10-20 years. But I’ve had some over the years, like Norman Vincent Peale.

Vicki: So Ms. Adkins, as we finish up this interview…

You have lived an amazing life. You still live an amazing life. You have more energy than almost anybody I know. You’re riding all these miles on your bike, and what do you think the secret is to living a great life?

What is the secret is to living a great life?

Grace: Well, first, you put the Lord first and do His will.

But then you have to do your part by eating right, exercising… and read. Keep your mind alert.

So I read good books, 30-40 a year, and I share them.

Vicki: So do you think that teaching and working with kids with learning differences for 56 years has been worth it?

Grace: Oh yes. And that’s what keeps me going, is my family and my connections with my children at school and my church.

Vicki: Well, Ms. Adkins is one who is remarkable. I talk all the time about being remarkable.

I hope that you can see that having her in my life, inspiring me to be more remarkable…

I don’t feel like I can even hold a candle to you, Ms. Adkins. You always inspire me.

I remember one time somebody said they went off with you to some professional development. Maybe it’s been 20-30 years ago. They woke up at 5:00 in the morning at you were jumping rope. (laughs)

I think you were in your fifties then. So you were a spring chicken, and you’re jumping rope. And you always exercised. You always worked hard to eat right.

And you are just amazing, and doing so well. And you’re still transforming lives. It’s just who you are.

Grace: Well, I couldn’t take my exercise bike with me, and my trampoline, so I have a mini-trampoline. I would jump rope, jump on the trampoline every morning before I came to school. And ride my bike. But now I can take my rope with me.

Vicki: That’s right. Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to meet Ms. Adkins. She’s an amazing woman. I love her very much, and I’m very grateful for her role in my life.

Honestly, I went to her my junior year. I didn’t have the SATs I needed to go to Georgia Tech, which was my dream college. And way back – this was in 1985-86, she actually had computer software to help me improve my SAT score. My score went up about 200 points with a lot of hard work.

I was able to go to Georgia Tech. Now I’m back here. So, you could say that I wouldn’t be anything at all, really, without Ms. Adkins believing in me and helping me and helping every day when I was a child.

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford

Bio as submitted

Grace Adkins is the Learning Lab Director at Westwood Schools in Camilla, Georgia. She earned her M.Ed. at Georgia Southwestern State University. She has been working at the school for decades and was Miss Vicki’s 4th-grade teacher. She is an avid reader and shares many of her books with the students at Westwood. She believes every child is a winner and it is her mission to help them become winners.

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.) This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

The post Amazing Grace Adkins – my 89 year old learning lab director and the most amazing woman I know appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

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Global Education Conference 2017 #globaled17

Lucy Gray and Steve Hargadon on episode 190 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Lucy Gray and Steve Hargadon, Global Education Conference co-chairs, talk about the Global Education Conference 2017 that runs from November 13-16. Go to to join in. Today we talk about the conference, what people can expect from the conference and how to sign up.

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Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.


Enhanced Transcript

Lucy Gray and Steve Hargadon for Global Education Conference

Link to show:
Date: Friday, November 10, 2017

Vicki: The Global Education Conference is here, November 13-16!

We have the two founders here with us today. My dear friends Lucy Gray and Steve Hargadon are leading this conference.

So Steve, let’s start with you. What is the Global Education Conference?

What is the Global Education Conference?

Steve: Well it’s this massive online peer-to-peer opportunity for teachers, educators, administrators, and students to share with each other what they’re doing in terms of globally connecting and global education.

It started eight years ago. The first year was 2010. We just created this venue for anybody to come on and present — and for anybody else around the world 24 hours a day for several days — to watch those presentations. It’s just been a thrill since then.

Vicki: So Steve, people from all over the world can participate and join in, right?

Global Education Conference 2017 #globaled17

The Global Education Conference hosts live conversations about global education with people around the world. All sessions are recorded so you can access later. Join in!

Steve: Yeah, we have about 25,000 members in our Global Education Conference network, not all of whom will attend each year, but we have members from 170+ countries.

We have this really cool system for people to schedule their own session times based on what’s good for them, where they are in the world. So we have sessions around the clock, and they all get recorded because people can’t always watch at the same time that someone can present.

This year, we’ll have over a hundred presentations.

Vicki: It’s such a fabulous resource for those of us who want to collaborate globally.

And here’s the thing, teachers… There’s always something going on when you have time, and it’s the Global Education Conference, so there’s really no excuse when it comes down to schedule because there’s always something going on.

So, Lucy, give us some of the highlights from this year.

Highlights From This Year

Lucy: I’m really excited because we have about seventeen different keynotes that are addressing the conference from around the world, including one that’s going to be partially in English and partially in French. Another one will probably be in Spanish and maybe some English. I’m not sure yet.

So we’re trying to accommodate more languages, and I’m really excited about those, in particular.

I’m also thrilled about one particular presenter that I have come across who happens to be the creator and genius behind the “Carmen San Diego” PBS series from a number of years ago. He has worked as a technology entrepreneur in a variety of different fields related to children’s media. He has an organization that he’s looking to network with people about in terms of global education.

I had a conversation with him today, and I thought he was really interesting. His name is Howard Blumenthal.

All of the sessions are really top notch this year. Lots of different professionals from all over the Global Education space. There’s something for everyone.

Vicki: I love it, Lucy. I don’t know how y’all do it. But you are always digging out — like you said, new people that everybody hasn’t heard of — but you’re always digging out new amazing educators who are just doing great work every single day in their classrooms.

Lucy: Yes, we are.

One story that I can think of from the past that exemplifies this…

People Met Here and Become Partners

We had two people meet in our rooms a few years ago — Will Piper, who is at the University School of Milwaukee, and Pedro Aparicio, who is a teacher in Mexico City.

They started collaborating and they do all sorts of projects and are very good friends now. They keynoted for us a few years ago. But they originally met in our rooms. And I think really good global collaborations happen when you have a relationship with another person professionally.

Our conference gives you opportunities to meet those kinds of people, and hopefully, serendipity will take over and something will happen for the people who attend our conference as well.

Vicki: Lucy, that is really exciting. You’ve given us one example of things that happen. But what are some of the things that people who participate in the conference say about participating?

Lucy: One thing that I remember from the past was when we had Howard Gardner as a keynote, and his son Andrew (who is a friend of ours) interviewed him. People felt like they were up close and personal with Howard and his son. They felt like they had a front-row audience with experts that they would not normally have access to,

So it’s going to give you… It’s free, first of all. It’s online, so you don’t have to go anywhere, and you can attend in your pajamas if you want to, and it’s all recorded so that you can access it at any time afterward.

You’re going to find experts at the level of Howard Gardner, but you’re also going to find classroom teachers who are talking about projects and who are looking for partners in their projects as well.

You also will hear from organizations who have lots of global education programming and support for schools out there.

Obstacles that Educators are Trying to Overcome Now

Vicki: So either of you can answer this one. As you’re planning the conference, what are some of the biggest obstacles and challenges that educators are trying to overcome right now in global education?

Steve: Lucy’s really the expert here. Lucy’s got the gift both with the keynote presenters and sort of the “feel” of the global event. For sure we hear from people that they have trouble finding someone else to collaborate with.

While you’re definitely there to hear the interesting presentations and the keynote speakers, a lot of the collaboration takes place in the Chat Room during sessions. So there’s this enormous amount of back-and-forth between people who are all over the world who are watching a session and then collaborating with each other. And that’s kind of the magic of it.

If you go up one tier level, the people who’ve been for several years and get kind of comfortable, they become volunteers and they help to moderate and coordinate. They have the best experience of all because here they are from all around the world working together to help make sure the conference goes well.

The answer to your question, what I hear is that people are looking for someone, and they need someone to collaborate with.

Lucy, do you want to expand on that?

We Have an Amazing Community

Lucy: Yeah. I’ll say that I think we have a really nice community. We have people who come back year after year to volunteer and moderate sessions, or to attend, or to do both. I think that there’s been more collegiality between people as a result, if it’s possible to do that virtually. I think there’s more awareness of the different organizations and resources that are out there.

You know, originally when we started this, I felt like the space was a little segmented. The left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing in terms of organizations and that sort of thing. Here, we provide an umbrella for these people and these organizations to network and to learn from each other.

The other thing I want to add, too, which is somewhat related is, we’re ed tech people first… and the global collaboration piece second. There are other people who have been working in the global education space much longer that we have. This movement is nothing new. It’s interesting to us, like, “How do we push the conversation further?” We think that technology helps that happen, and that’s what our event does.

But we’re also perplexed by why this isn’t more of a priority in schools. So there will be a panel with a bunch of these people who’ve been in this space for a while, on Monday afternoon of the conference, discussing what are some of the issues that keep schools from making it a priority to develop global competence in their students.

How Do People Join or Sign Up?

Vicki: How do people join in? How do they sign up?

Steve: You go to You can join the network there. To participate in the actual conference, we also have you register through an Eventbrite link that’s on the front of the website. But again, everything is free and there’s lots of good information.

If anything, there’s too much information, too many good things going on. But just look for the registration link on the front page. Then you’ll get an email from us that has the schedule.

The fun of it is that the schedule pulls in 28 time zones; there are actually 36 or 37 time zones, but we only track a certain number of them. But you click into your own time zone. You’ll see the sessions that are running. You’ll see the session rooms, and it’s really a lot of fun.

Vicki: Is there a hashtag for it?

Steve: Lucy’s our social media guru…

Lucy: Yes there is. It’s hashtag is #globaled17. We use that year-round for this event and the other events that we run at Our handle for Twitter is @globaledcon.

Why Should Educators Start Connecting Globally?

Vicki: So let’s finish up. If each of you could give a quick 20-30 second pep talk on why educators should start connecting globally. Lucy, you want to start?

Lucy: Sure. I think it’s really important to connect and collaborate globally for a number of reasons.

On a practical side, the ISTE Standards that have been recently revised for students and teachers call for this. So we’ve provided venue for you to kind of find those people to collaborate with and develop those kind of relationships that are necessary for it.

From an educational standpoint, I think there has never been a greater need to develop empathy and understanding of the world in order to solve problems across borders.

So that’s why I think it’s really important for teachers to foster this kind of mentality in their students so that they’re curious about the world and want to be active global citizens.

Vicki: Steve?

Steve: Lucy addressed the practical and the educational. For me, it’s a deep passion belief in the value of and the importance of global in our own personal learning. I lived in Brazil for a year as an exchange student, and I can’t imagine my life without that experience of seeing the world through others’ eyes — and then a lifetime of connecting in other ways. If we really think about learning, and the core learning that we do, especially in this era, it’s hard to imagine us being good learners without an understanding of how other people think and act.

Vicki: That is so true. Here’s the thing — we can talk all day about other places. But when students connect, they live it. They understand it.

How can you change a worldview when students can’t travel? You can take them and travel digitally to other places.

So many powerful ideas. Register at, and join in! Bring these remarkable experiences to your classroom!

Bio as submitted

Currently an education consultant advising a variety of organizations, Lucy Gray previously taught elementary grade levels in Chicago Public Schools and middle school computer science at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. She also has worked at the University of Chicago’s Urban Education Institute and the Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education. In 2007, Lucy founded the Global Education Collaborative, a network for educators interested in collaboration which has been expanded into the Global Education Conference Network. In her consulting life, she has led CoSN’s Leadership for Mobile Learning initiative, developed strategic plans and content for companies, provided professional development coaching to school districts, and presented at numerous conferences. Lucy also has received the distinctions of Apple Distinguished Educator and Google Certified Innovator.

Twitter: @elemenous

Professional Information: I am the founder and director of the Learning Revolution Project, the host of the Future of Education interview series, and founded and chair or co-chair of a number of annual worldwide virtual events, including the Global Education Conference and Library 2.0.

I pioneered the use of live, virtual (and peer-to-peer) education conferences, popularized the idea of education “unconferences,” built one of the first modern social networks for teachers in 2007 (Classroom 2.0), and developed the “conditions of learning” exercise for local change. I supported and encouraged the development of thousands of other education networks, particularly for professional development. For the last ten years, I’ve run a large annual ed-tech unconference, now called Hack Education (previously EduBloggerCon). I blog, speak, and consult on educational technology, and my virtual and physical events build community and connections in education, with 550,000 members.

My newest project is an online summit on Tiny Houses. I host a local tiny house group with over 2,000 members, and my son and his wife and I (mostly them) have been building a skoolie.

I have been the Emerging Technologies Chair for ISTE, a regular co-host of the annual Edublog Awards, the author of “Educational Networking: The Important Role Web 2.0 Will Play in Education,” and the recipient of the 2010 Technology in Learning Leadership Award (CUE). I have done contract work, consulted, or served on advisory boards for Acer, Adobe, Blackboard, CoSN, Horizon Project / New Media Consortium (NMC), Instructure, Intel, KnowledgeWorks Foundation, MERLOT, Microsoft, Mightybell, Ning, PBS, Promethean, Speak Up / Project Tomorrow, U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. State Department, and others typically focusing on educational technology and social networking. A number of corporations and organizations support my events, and you can see a list and more details of my projects at Web 2.0 Labs.

Personal Information: I was a foreign-exchange student through AFS to Brazil for a year in high school, and organized and led group tours for several years as my first job after college for Stanford’s Alumni Association. I spent 2013 traveling around the world talking to people about education. I have the skin disorder Vitiligo and created the world’s largest social network for those with Vitiligo at as well as the site. I also run a network for members of the extended Hargadon family–Hargadon is an Irish name, and all Hargadons come from Sligo. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), and a student of different cultures, religions, and beliefs. I co-founded Asheville Interfaith and an annual exhibit of Nativity sets from around the world.


Twitter: @stevehargadon

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Book Creator for Chrome: Product Review, Tips and Tricks for Teachers

Sponsored by Book Creator, All Opinions My Own

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Book Creator has long been a favorite app on the iPad, and now it’s available for Google Chrome. Students who use Chromebooks, PCs, Macs, iPads, or any other device can now create books with this versatile, easy-to-use app.

Post sponsored by Book Creator. All opinions my own.

Right now, my students are creating books about their heroes. We’ve been using Joseph Campbell’s model of “the hero’s journey” in our class, and each of my students will be creating a six-page book on his or her hero. They’ll be adding photographs, videos, audio and text about their hero.

Standards: I’m using this project as a summary of all the graphic design lessons that I’ve taught my students, everything from color to fonts. I’m expecting them to use these principles in their books, but I’m also hoping that they’ll create a great keepsake commemorating why their hero is so special to them. Many of my students have chosen to write about their parents or grandparents, so the results could (and should) be outstanding.

Book creator covers

Students are loving writing their own books for the world with book creator. So excited!

Interactivity: Book Creator is different from many other tools because you can actually record your voice with it, as well as linking to videos in these fully interactive books. Kids can create them in a snap and use them as portfolios of their work.

Collaboration: With a click of a button, we can combine the books and publish them as a class. So when this project is over, each of my students can proudly point to their work in a combined book called The Book of Heroes.

Audience: Remember that audience improves student learning—nobody wants to do wastebasket work. Students will be able to download their books as PDFs and print them. They can also send them as eBooks that people can read on their mobile devices or computers. They’ll be able to do this with their individual books as well as with the class hero anthology.

Book Creator Features

Some of my favorite features include:

  • Many different book sizes
  • A range of styles from traditional books to comic books
  • Each classroom gets 40 free books
  • Customizable font, colors, shapes, and background images
  • Ability to add video and audio (Note: these won’t be interactive when you print, but they’re powerful additions to the 21st-century book.)

How Does Book Creator Work?

I made the above tutorial to show you how to set up Book Creator, but honestly, you don’t really need it. All you have to do is go to the Book Creator landing page and click the “I am a teacher” button. They’ll set you up with a free teacher account, and you’ll be ready to go! You’ll have your 40 free books, and you’ll also get a demo book that will guide you through using Book Creator. Just follow the instructions in the book, and you’ll know what to do.

The demo book is a great place to practice—you can’t hurt anything, and everyone gets their own individual little practice book. Call this a sandbox, and let them play there to learn about all of Book Creator’s features.

Possibly the best way to introduce students to this tool is by having them understand that they can put their best work on display for people to look at. Kids want an audience, and Book Creator for Chrome gives us that. This fantastic addition to your class lets students create audience-facing works for authentic assessment that can also be keepsakes from their year in your classroom.

Book Creator classroom library

Here’s a class library for an elementary classroom. Book Creator is an awesome tool for classrooms of all ages. From my high school classroom to this elementary classroom.

Vint Cerf, one of the “fathers” of the internet, often talks about something called “bit rot.” We put so much online yet we’re not really making an effort to preserve it.

Well, Book Creator is a great way to preserve student work because you can print these books to create an archive. However, you can still keep them in easy digital reach on your phones, digital ebook reader, or any electronic device. This tool is the best of both worlds.

Who Can Use Book Creator?

Book Creator is perfect for kids of all ages. I’ve seen books made by kindergarteners, college students, and special needs kids. I’ve mentioned it in many of my podcasts, and I’m excited that such a useful, versatile app is coming to Chrome.

Get started. So set up your Book Creator for Chrome today, and tweet me a link to your books when you get them done.

Privacy Settings. Remember that the privacy settings can be adjusted. You can have the students see just their own book and share them only with you. But after you’re done with the project, it’s possible to share these books with others—and even publicly if you choose.

As the teacher, I can publish the books I choose to share and that have parent permission.

Let your students’ imagination and expertise run wild. Give them a chance to proudly own their work. See what they can create when they know their work truly matters.

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored blog post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The post Book Creator for Chrome: Product Review, Tips and Tricks for Teachers appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

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Different Schools for a Different World

Dr. Scott McLeod on episode 189 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Dr. Scott McLeod, co-author of Different Schools for a Different World, has a frank conversation about the change that needs to happen, how long it will take to happen, and the next steps for promoting creativity in schools.

Got 5 minutes? That is all it takes to enter the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest. If you’re a US public school teacher of grades 6-12, you and your students just need to come up with a STEAM idea that can help your community. If you’re selected as a finalist, you’ll win technology and prizes to help your STEAM project come to reality.

The entry period ends this week – Thursday, November 9 is the last day! Go to to learn more. Good luck!

Listen Now




Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.


Enhanced Transcript

Improving Schools By Killing Boredom and Promoting Deeper Learning

Link to show:
Date: November 9, 2017

Vicki: Today we’re talking to my friend, Dr. Scott McLeod @mcleod about his new book, Different Schools for Different Worlds, that he co-authored with Dean Shareski.

Now, Scott, what are some of the things that you think are preventing kids from learning?

What is preventing kids from learning?

Scott: I think they’re bored out of their minds, most of the time. I think that we see that manifest physically, in terms of those kids who are chronically absent, tardy, those who drop out, etc.

But then there’s the ones who are compliant and show up, but they’re mentally checked out. I think that’s probably our biggest failure to powerful learning right now.

Vicki: But there are some people who would say, “Kids have been bored forever. I was bored when I was a kid, and it didn’t hurt me.” Well, what do you say to that?

Scott: (laughs) Well, again they’re compliant, but I don’t know if they’re learning much. If you ask most of those people how much they remember, or what kind of powerful learning they experienced when they were in school, they often struggle to articulate what that looked like.

Vicki: OK, so what do we do to tackle this problem?

Scott: So, I think we can do a couple things. Obviously, schools as systemic structures need to change quite a bit.

4 Big Shifts in Schools

I’ve been trying to talk to schools about four big shifts:

  1. The shift from low-level recall and regurgitation to deeper learning,
  2. The shift from teacher-directed to greater student agency,
  3. The shift from isolated-disconnected classroom work to more real-world authentic work,
  4. And then finally, using technology in robust ways to facilitate those first three.

Those four shifts seem to resonate with folks because they have seen the power of those, at least in small doses within their systems.

Vicki: They do resonate. They make sense. Why is it so hard to make those shifts?

Scott: (laughs) Because schools have incredible inertia, and they were set up for a different time. Right? So Lauren Resnick, who did this wonderful study for the federal government, said that our schools were never designed to prepare large numbers of critical thinkers and problem solvers — which is exactly what we need now.

They were designed to prepare a large number of compliant people who would go into the basically automatable-type manufacturing jobs and office jobs, where they were basically a replaceable cog in the wheel.

Now, all of a sudden, for a variety of reasons, we need kids who can do that higher level, complex, analytical, interpersonal work.

Schools were never designed to do that, so we basically have this massive paradigm shift that we’ve got to figure out how to go through. Right now, we’re in that transition period.

Vicki: We are. Now we have of course the ESSA Act here in the US that lets states have different measures. So we’re talking about wanting to scale creativity. If lawmakers or policymakers ask us, how do we measure that?

How can we adopt creativity standards that are scalable and translate between schools?

We know, for example, say we did portfolios. You know, it’s really hard to have a standard measure of portfolios between schools. How can we measure and encourage and create an environment where we have creativity?

Scott: Right. Well, we went down this road before, right? We saw some movement in the 80’s and 90’s around portfolio development, around performance assessment, and other sorts of indicators of authentic work. We were figuring out ways to scale that up at the state level.

And then, when No Child Left Behind came along, it kind of cut all that off at the knees.

We’re sort of returning to that loop now, rediscovering what we had started to make progress on before, figuring out to make that happen.

You know we have a number of states, particularly in the New England, that are figuring out some kind of competency-based student exhibition or portfolio requirements as necessary for graduation.

One of the more interesting initiatives that we’re seeing is coming out of New York, a consortium of schools called the New York Performance Assessment Consortium. That’s gotten some waivers from the state department, where they’re trying to figure out what common performance assessments look like across districts. These could be used for assessment purposes.

So, there are lots of sort of interesting things happening.

Vicki: In other words, we’re just not there yet.

The Frustration of Transition

Scott: No, no, no. We’re in this massive, messy, transition period that’s going to take much longer than you and I want it to. It will probably be a decade or two or more before it all shakes out.

Vicki: But what about all these kids now? Doesn’t every child deserve to have the opportunity to be more creative and innovative and — to invent and to make and to have deeper learning?

Scott: Absolutely. You and I feel and urgency around that. Other folks either don’t feel that urgency, or at least have some inkling that that’s the direction we need to go, but they don’t have any ideas of how to accomplish that.

Vicki: Oh… but I don’t want to feel hopeless, Scott.

Scott: I’m not hopeless. I’m just trying to feel more patient. (laughs)

Vicki: (laughs) Good luck with that! You know, these children are just here. They’re now. I just think that we can do better.

How many years do we have to wait, with people saying, “But they have to take the test.” I mean, really. How long do we have to live this?

Scott: Well, until we gain critical mindset with our communities… and our educators and our policymakers… we’re going to have to wait a while.

Unfortunately, systems change slowly.

It’s easy to change at the individual level, right? You and I can make a mental shift, garner some resources, and go. But getting while systems to move is a whole ‘nother matter.

So, yes, I feel that urgency like you do. I battle it every day, and I try to find ways to “infect” people with different kinds of urgencies and mindsets. But the reality is that it’s going to take some time.

Vicki: OK, so let’s look at this one about student agency. Do you have some best practices and thoughts for really helping improve student agency in their own education?

Scott: Yes. My colleague Julie Graber @jgraber and I created a technology integration protocol. It has this horrible name called Trudacot. But it has a set of questions around agency that we’ve been having a lot of success with, with classroom teachers. Basically, the idea is that if the teacher has the interest or goal of increasing student agency in the day-to-day work, or maybe for a particular lesson or unit, there’s a set of questions that you can ask yourself about how you’re doing that or accomplishing that purpose. And it’s basic questions, like:

  • Who gets to decide what is learned?
  • Who gets to decide how it’s learned?
  • Who gets to decide what the work product is, and how it’s assessed?
  • Who gets to pick the technology?
  • Who’s the primary user of the technology?
  • Do students have the ability to be entrepreneurial, self-directed, and go beyond?

Questions like that, right?

  • Read about Trudacot and use it to evaluate your classroom

And so if your answers are always, “Teacher, teacher, teacher,” then what we’re doing is we’re using those same questions as pivot points for redesign.

So we’re saying to teachers, “OK, so you have this goal of student agency, and you have this unit in mind. Right now, your answers are primarily, ‘Teacher, teacher, teacher…” or “No, no, no, whatever…”

What if we took this question around, “Who gets to decide what the student work product looks like?” What if you wanted the answer to be “Student” instead? How would you redesign this to get there?

What if you wanted to take that question around, “Do students have the opportunity to be self-directed and go beyond?” Right now the answer is “No.” What would the lens look like where the answer was “Yes.” How would you redesign this to get there?

And we’re having great conversations with teachers around what seemed like fairly basic questions, but it’s the structured process of it that I think really moves them in desired directions.

How do we make to the change to deeper learning?

Vicki: So one more. We don’t have time to go deep into all of these, but “Deeper Learning…” How do we make that shift? And I know you can’t give that answer in a minute, but just point us in a direction.

Scott: Sure. I think we’re starting to make some movements in this direction. We’re just not there yet.

We’re looking at,

  • What kind of questions are we asking?
  • Are they of greater cognitive complexity?
  • Are we asking students to do meaningful, real-world tasks that require students to apply what they’re learning in new directions and at new depths?

Anything that gets us beyond the regurgitative multiple-choice item or fill-in-the-blank item — is all good.

Vicki: Yes, beyond regurgitative multiple choice, because you know many years ago… I can’t remember who it was that was on Facebook. I think it was Alec Couros. He asked, “What did you used to think about education that you found is not true?

Pretending that test measure learning

When I first got in, I thought that the tests actually meant something — until I realized that the kids actually forgot it the day after. Then I started doing projects. Years later, even now that they’re in their twenties and dare I say some are in their thirties, they come back to me and talk to me about these projects and concepts that they’ve applied in their real life.

And I’m like, “Oh yeah. That was teaching. Right?”

Scott: Yeah. I continue to be baffled by the game playing that we all engage in where we pretend that students care about and remember the thing we covered four weeks ago.

Vicki: And I would say that that is somewhat of a game. And do they understand it, or do they just memorize it?

Scott: Yeah. And they don’t even hang onto it for very long. Right? Nut in this pressure to cover stuff, we know in our hearts that they don’t remember and hang onto this, but we continue to proceed as if they do.

Vicki: Yeah. So I think that Scott’s blog — every time I talk to hi, I’m like, “Yep. His blog’s named well, ‘Dangerously Relevant’ because he is an instigator, a question asker. I hope that we all feel a little unsettled and dissatisfied because we can never be complacent.

I think the enemy is complacency and stagnancy. We need to make progress for these children. How can we scale creativity? I mean, that is what we need to have in our world today, particularly in more developed countries. We need that creativity.

This has been a fantastic conversation. I hope that you’ll take a look at the Shownotes and follow the links.

I’m definitely going to be asking some of these agency questions, Scott!

Scott: Cool. Thanks, Vicki. I’ll get you a copy of the whole protocol. Maybe you can share that, too.

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford

Bio as submitted

An Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Colorado Denver, Scott McLeod, J.D., Ph.D., is widely recognized as one of the nation’s leading experts on P-12 school technology leadership issues. He also is the Founding Director of the UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE), the nation’s only university center dedicated to the technology needs of school administrators.

Blog: dangerously ! irrelevant

Twitter: @mcleod

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.) This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

The post Different Schools for a Different World appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

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