Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Technological Flat Tire

            As I write this post, I am sitting at Firestone getting my tire fixed.  While waiting, I think to myself that if I didn’t have bad luck, I would have no luck at all.  I am on my way to the beach to soak up the sun and celebrate my 15th anniversary with my wife.   The problem is that this is the second flat tire I have gotten in two weeks.  This is definitely not the best way to celebrate my 15th anniversary!
            Also on my mind is school, because it starts at the beginning of August.  Most of you know that technology is a big part of my classroom.  I feel as though many teachers get “technological flat tires”.  What I mean by this, is that most teachers start with an open mind with using technology within their classroom, but many give up very easily when something goes wrong or doesn’t work quite right.  Then they proceed to share their thoughts of disbelief with their students and coworkers.   This starts a bad cycle of negativity.
            What I have learned throughout my years of teaching is that my students have achieved more with the infusion of technology into my classroom.  When I first started using technology within my classroom, it didn’t always work the way that I wanted it to.  In fact, it still does not always work the way I would like it to.  At times it can be frustrating, but I always embrace the opportunities the technologies will create for my students.   As comparing this to a metaphorical tire, you can either simply mend the puncture in the tire or get a new tire altogether.  This goes right along with our mindset on technology.  We can either find a quick easy fix or grasp a new mindset altogether.  If we do not take the time to grant students the opportunity to use technology, we will not allow them the opportunity to reach their full potential.  Now that I am sitting in the sand and listening to the crashing waves, I realize that maybe that flat tire was not such a big deal after all. The end result was well worth the inconvenience.

Friday, June 10, 2016

#GrowthMindset What You Need to Know

Here are some resources and videos that demonstrate the importance of Growth Mindset inside and outside the classroom.

     via @MindshiftKQED

       via @MindShiftKQED

"How you could be good at math, and other surprising facts about learning."
Jo Boaler TEDxStanford

"How to Help Every Child Fulfil Their Potential"
Carol Dweck RSA Animate

"The Power of Belief- Mindset and Success"
Eduardo Briceno TEDxManHattanBeach

"With Math I Can"
Take the Pledge at:

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

10 Must-Have Math Apps

Looking for ways to increase student engagement in your classroom? Try these game-based educational apps that make math a whole lot of fun!

1. Operation Math (Spinlight Studio) - James Bond meets math facts. With this app, students will travel around the world, trying to defeat Dr. Odd. Students will complete timed missions in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. When completing these missions, students can earn different types of watches and uniforms. Operation Math has over 100 different missions that the students can complete.

2. Quick Math and Quick Math+ (Shiny Things) - Students really enjoy Quick Math and Quick Math+because they can use their finger as a stylus and just write the answers on the screen. In Quick Math, students are given the option of doing addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Quick Math+offers more challenging activities that test memorization, estimation, and indices.

3. YodelOh Math Mountain (Spinlight Studio) - This app, reminiscent of The Price is Right game show, takes place in the Alps. The objective is to answer as many fast facts as possible before falling off the mountain. If a student answers a problem correctly, they move closer to the summit of the mountain. As the students are completing math problems, they also have to watch for sheep trying to knock them off the mountain. This fast-paced, interactive game holds student interest by putting a twist on the memorization of fast facts.

4. Factor Samurai (Third Rail, LLC) - This app helps students decipher between prime and composite numbers. Factor Samurai puts a different spin on the game Fruit Ninja, but instead of slicing fruit, the students must slice composite numbers into prime numbers. Students can earn different colored swords by slicing only composite numbers. This app also challenges students by giving them three different levels to choose from: grasshopper, apprentice, and master.

5. Math Bingo (ABCYa!) - Math Bingo uses all math operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Students can get a bingo by correctly answering math facts presented vertically, horizontally, or diagonally on a grid. When a student completes a bingo, the app unlocks games such as “Bingo Bug Bungee,” “Math Stack,” and “Math Fling.” All of these games help students learn math facts in a unique way.

6. Math Planet (Playpower Labs, LLC) - Math Planet offers math apps for first through fifth grade while also providing a middle school app. Students can explore different planets and solve problems related to number sense, fractions, decimals, geometry, and all of the math operations. Math Planet is a fun way for students to learn math skills!

7. Math Slicer (Thumbstorm, LLC) - Math Slicer is a great way for students to learn their math facts. Students slice the answers to addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems. As a math problem appears on the screen, two answers fly though the air and a student must "slice" the correct answer with their finger.

8. iTooch Math (eduPad) - iTooch is based on the Common Core standards and covers mathematics, science and language arts for grade 1-5. With this app, students can take practice tests and earn grades for each of the content standards. This app offers a multitude of visuals to help students gain understanding of the content.

9. GeoBoard (Clarity Innovations, Inc.) - This app creates a digital geoboard. Students can create geometric shapes with different colored rubber bands. The boards are shaped in squares, rectangles, and circles. This app can be used to illustrate polygons, to identify types of angles, and to create congruent figures.

10. Slice Fractions (Ululab) - If you are looking for a fun way to learn or teach fractions, then Slice Fractions is for you. Slice Fractions involves a world-traveling mammoth trying to solve different math problems related to fractions while collecting interesting hats along the way. This app includes puzzles that incorporate fraction symbols, fraction parts, comparing fractions, problem solving, and adding fractions. This is a well-constructed app that's perfect for 5- to 12-year-olds.

Try these apps to keep students engaged and motivated in math through the last weeks of school. Be sure to let us know how it goes in the TenMarks teacher communities on Facebook and Twitter!

Cross-post from TenMarks Blog

Saturday, November 14, 2015

10 Questions That Must Be Answered When Going 1:1

1.  What types of mobile learning initiatives have other school districts

Image Credit:
While planning a mobile initiative, start by looking at what has already been done.  Talk to neighboring school districts.  Find out what has worked well and what has not.  Reaching out on twitter is another possibility.  Following hashtags such as #mlearning, #slide2learn, #iOSedApp, #edtech and #edchat can be beneficial.  Educators on twitter are always willing to share their ideas and experiences.  Here is a list of educators on twitter that share their expertise on twitter: @web20classroom@tonyvincent, @iPodsibilities, @lkolb, @SNewco, @Ignatia@kylepace and @elemenous.

2.  Where is the funding coming from?
Many districts give up on mobile learning initiatives before they even gets started due to lack of funds.  It is important to be creative when thinking about funding.  School districts can look into E-Rate funding, local and national grants, local company contributions and help from their PTO. Sometimes starting small is the most important aspect.  Starting out with a pilot program can be very valuable for not only teachers but the students as well. 

3.  Is the initiative sustainable?
Everyday in the news you hear about a school district buying a ridiculous amount of devices.  Was this plan really thought out?  Will it last more than two years?  It is also important to think about upgrades and broken devices.  What is the cost of repairs, replacements and upgrades?

4.  How does the district plan on using the devices?
Are the students just using these devices for testing purposes in class, or are they going to be able to bring the devices home for personal use?  All teachers need to be onboard and be willing to make use of them on a daily basis.  Students need to know the importance of the device and the many ways this resource can be used. Will these devices follow the students throughout their educational career?  In many districts, students will use the same device throughout the entirety of their education. 

5.  What device is right for your student population?
Many schools go to device is the iPad, but it is important to look at all options and functionality. Some schools feel that Chrome Books are the better route for their students.  How will the students be using the devices?  Will a keyboard be needed?

6.  Is an Acceptable Use Policy set in place?
An acceptable use policy, also called a responsible use policy, must be set in place before the roll out of the program.  Students, teachers and parents need to have an understanding of what is expected in and outside of the classroom when using devices.  Acceptable Use Policy Resources via @cybraryman1

7.  Have the teachers bought into the idea of the initiative?
This is the fastest way to kill a mobile learning initiative.  All of the teachers need to be on board.  The students will follow the lead of the teachers.  If the teachers are positive, the students will enturn be more likely to have a positive outlook regarding the use of these devices. Once again, it is important to get a group of positive teachers involved in a pilot program.  These teachers can then help out the teachers that are more apprehensive about introducing mobile devices into their classroom.

8.  Where is the professional development going to come from?
I have found that the best professional development comes from teachers teaching teachers.  Before I began using mobile devices in my classroom, I had the opportunity watch it in action in a different classroom.  Visit other school districts that have had success!

9.  Are there technology leaders in each building that will keep the initiative   
going in a positive direction?
It is always important to have a go to technology leader that is willing to take the time to work with teachers that are not as tech savvy.

10.  What apps will the students benefit from using?
Resources for Apps in the classroom.
12 of the Best Math Apps for Kids via @TeachThought
50 of the Best Free Apps for Teachers via @TeachThought
APPitic: App Lists for Education via @APPitic

Monday, November 3, 2014

Please Vote for St. Marys Intermediate School for @CompassLearning Video Contest

St. Marys Intermediate School has some EXCITING news to share. We have been selected as a finalist in the Compass Learning Classroom Refresh Video Contest. Our video was chosen from over 120 videos from all over the United States. We have a chance to win up to $55,000 worth of new technology for our school, but we need your help!

Go to to sign up. Our video is called “We Wish We All Would Use Technology More”. Your vote will take us one step closer to winning. Online voting for finalists’ videos is open to the public through December 1, 2014 and once registered, you can vote DAILY!

Please share the news about our video with your friends, colleagues, and family and encourage them to vote. When you view the video, you’ll see “Email A Friend” and “Share” features that enable you to easily share the video with your contacts on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and other social media sites.

So, please take a moment to visit to register and give us your vote. We appreciate your support!


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Remind Announcing Stamps: Get Instant Feedback from Your Class!

Remind is excited to announce Stamps, a new way for students and parents to provide instant feedback on your Remind messages! With Stamps, you can easily ask questions and get quick answers from your class in real-time. For example, you can find out who is going on a field trip, who is confused about a new topic you introduced, or even, who likes the messages you’re sending.

It’s simple. You send a message to your class, just as you’ve always done with Remind. Students and parents receive the message on the Remind app and can choose one of four stamps to give feedback   ?. You’ll get timely updates when class members stamp your messages, so you can check the stamps later or watch as they arrive in real-time while in class.

While one-way messages kept students and parents informed, many teachers began asking us for an easy way to engage their class. We’ve spent a lot of time working with teachers like Diane,Laura, and Roni (thanks!) to ensure Stamps could provide instant feedback for teachers while keeping Remind simple and easy-to-use. Only teachers can see who stamped what so everyone in your class can feel comfortable leaving honest feedback.

With all our new features, we’ve been careful to maintain the simplicity and safety that have been at the heart of Remind. While Stamps are only available on our new iOS or Android app, students and parents can continue receiving your messages over SMS or email in case they don’t have a smartphone. This lets you continue using Remind just as you always have.

Stamps are available in the new version of our app available on iOS and Android. Expect more cool new features to come now that our mobile app supports students and parents. We can’t wait to show you what’s next!
We wish you an amazing school year, and hope that Stamps makes it easier to guide your class towards success!

As always, if you have questions please reach out to us by e-mail:, or onTwitter, or Facebook.

Josh and the Remind team