“Building” Character and “Making” Good Choices

Integrating management and motivation is a way to support the whole school culture.  After reading, Monkey with a Tool Belt by Chris Monroe, we implemented a positive reinforcement opportunity for students.  Using the idea of tools as a lead in from the text, we developed “tool badges” that can be earned based on behavior expectations school wide. These tools help us “build” character and “make’ good choices. Tools include, Routines, Responsibility, Respect, Safe (from our S3R’S district initiative) along with collaboration, listening, critical thinking and innovator. 

Students have several ways to earn the badges. In the Maker Studio they have grade level toolbelts to collect their badges in based on behavior during that special time. Students can also earn badges to place in their classroom toolbelt. At the end of the nine weeks the tool belt will be evaluated, “What is the value of your toolbelt?”. Each badge is a different shape and carries a different numerical value. The grade level with the highest toolbelt value will get to choose from a set of predetermined incentives.

Incentives for Maker Badges include “self-select” building/making or free build in MinecraftEDU.

What is the value of your toolbelt?

What is the value of your tool belt?









**Grade level teachers can use the incentives however it works best in their classroom.  Next semester we will explore digital tool badges.


Screen Shot 2014-12-28 at 9.13.18 AMTwister is a fun tool from Classtools.net. Twister, like Fakebook and Fake SMS allows you to imagine what historical figures would have done if they had access to social media. Twister allows you to create fake tweets about this person and fun hashtags.   When studying famous people or reading biographies, this would be a great technology project for upper grades.
To create a fake Tweet on Twister just go to the site and enter a name, a Tweet, and date stamp for your Tweet. Twister will pull a public domain image for the profile picture and show you the fake Tweet. Your fake Tweet will be given its own URL. You can also just take a screenshot of it to save it.

Muzy Photo Blog

I found Writing with a Photos (More than words can say alone) a very interesting read.  Pictures do add emotions and feelings to words…..an important part of the reading context.  Pictures make the words come to life.  Think about media (commercials) and the influence video/pictures/words have on us as a society.

Why Do We Take Pictures?

  • To Connect
  • To be apart of a community
  • To alter our perspective
  • To capture the decisive moment
  • To change lives
  • To been seen
  • To save memories
  • To show us things we’ve never seen before
  • To make us think
  • To capture beauty
  • Plus MORE…..

We have so many tools that can be used in the classroom to enhance our reading, writing, and thinking.  The article above mentions several.  Recently, I came across Muzy.  Muzy would be a great photoblog to be used in the classroom for comparing/contrasting, sharing pictures, and writing/collaborative discussions on pictures posted.

Teacherstone Muzy

What Are You Pursuing?

I recently listen to a speaker talk on Pursuing the Prize.  He gave 6 key steps to Pursuing the Prize listed below.

1.  Pursue a better condition – one can not seek or find the purpose/vision if the condition/environment is not postive and conducive to learning/growing.  One needs to surround themselves with people they trust.  When you find that “better condition,” you create a community of connected educators.

2.  Pursue with maxium effort – Seek and risk-take…put your all into the goal/vision.  It takes as much effort to “half do” something as it does to give 100%.  Half full or half empty?

3.  Focused Concentration – “Fix Your Eyes” on the goal… the goal is the key.  What are the step needed to reach the goal.  How will you get there?  Who will help you?  Do you need buy in?  Can you state the purpose and reason for the goal?

4.  Know what your motivation is (why are you doing this, what is the purpose?) –  Motivation must come from within…this is healthy.  Knowing the purpose and cause will make the goal easier to keep the focus. 

5.  You can’t do it alone – Surround yourself with positive people.  You need a community of like-believers and support.

6.  Stay the course – Don’t give up!

What are you PURSUING?


For those not familiar with Edmodo,  it is a microblogging system designed specifically for teachers and students. Using Edmodo, teachers can create a microblogging network for their classes. Edmodo allows teachers to create a group specifically for their students and exclude those not invited to the group. Edmodo provides teachers with a place to post assignment reminders, build an event calendar, and post messages to the group. Users can share links, videos, and images.

Below is a list of things teachers and students can do with Edmodo…

 1. Post assignments for students. Edmodo allows teachers to attach files to assignment announcements. If there is a file your students need in order to complete an assignment, they can access it at the same place they view the announcement. Less clicking is good.

2. Create digital libraries. Students and teachers can create digital libraries for housing their important files. No need to keep track of USB drives because you can access your files from any Internet-connected computer.

3. Post messages on the “wall.” This allows students to ask questions of each other and their teacher. Teachers, of course, can post messages for all students to read.

 4. Create learning groups. Teachers can create groups of their students according to the courses they teach or create groups of students who are supposed to be working together.

 5. Post polls for students. Use the polls to gather informal feedback.

6. Post a quiz for students to take. You can attach links and files to each question and answer choice. This allows you to post a document and ask students to read and respond to it. Quizzes can be in multiple choice, true/ false, fill in the blank, or short answer form. You can allow students to see their scores immediately or you can disable that option.

 7. Connect with other teachers. Join discussion groups to share ideas about lesson plans, teaching strategies, and project development. 

 8. Create a calendar of events and assignments.

9. Access Edmodo through the free Android and iPhone apps.

10. Turn in assignments. Students can upload assignments for their teachers to view and grade. Teachers can annotate the assignments directly in Edmodo.

11. Create parent accounts. Teachers can create parent accounts. Parent accounts allow parents to see their children’s assignments and grades. Teachers can also send alerts to parents about school events, missed assignments, and other important messages through Edmodo.

12. Generate printable class rosters. If you’re going to have a substitute teacher in your classroom who needs a printed roster, you can print one from your Edmodo account.  You can also export grades to an excel spreadsheet.

13. Embed Wallwisher into your Edmodo wall to host a brainstorming session.

14. Embed a variety of videos, images, and audio clips into your wall to spark a class discussion online.

15. Use the Google Chrome extension or browser bookmarklet to quickly add content to your Edmodo library. Anytime you find something on the web, click the Edmodo extension or bookmarklet to save it in your Edmodo library.  Helps save time and keeps you organized.

16.  Add and create badges for your students.

17.  Join Edmodo Pulished Communities…great discussions and learning take place in these communities.

18.  Create a book study group.

19.  Create small subgroups from your class groups for hand-on/building assignments.  (JIGSAW LEARNING)

20.  Great place to have digital citizenship discussions.  THINK before you POST!

Classroom Tweeting

One of the beautiful things about education is learning from one year and starting fresh with another.   Education lends itself to collaborating and sharing with others…..what better way to find experts and information than CLASSROOM TWEETING.  Students learn to express their thoughts and/or learning in 140 characters or less.  As the teacher, you are able to gauge their learning on a daily basis.  The longer they tweet… the more followers that follow and the more creative they will be with their mentions [@ mentions] and hashtags [#].  Daily “Tweet Outs” make students think about a meaningful statement that their GLOBAL audience will read, learn, and/or comment. 

Tweeting Tips:

  1. Create one classroom account (easy monitoring).
  2. Create an avatar that best describes your classroom (you can change your avatar and password from year to year with your class).
  3. Create hashtags for different content/subject areas…you want to be organized and have an archived list for students to go back to as needed.
  4. Check your hashtags at http://hashtags.org/flatclassroom or by searching within Twitter.  You want to make sure it is not being used.
  5. Model good tweets in front of the class.
  6. Make time to read other tweets.
  7. Follow people you can collaborate with and LEARN from…ex. NASA
  8. Monitor your account
  9. Tweeting can be a great communication resource for parents….ask them to follow.  YOU do not have to FOLLOW them.
  10. EMBRACE IT….it is their world!