Generational Diversity for Theories on Thursday

Today's 5th grader was born in 2000.

Today's 5th grader knows smartphones, texting, Web 2.0 and 3.0, Twitter, Facebook, iTunes and over 100 Pokemon characters. 

Today's 5th grader does not know carphones, pagers, VHS tapes and DOS operating systems. 

Heck, today's 5th grader barely knows land lines (for phones) or CDs.

Times have changed, no?

Today's generation born after 2000 is known as the iGeneration or Digital Natives.  If you are wondering which generation came before them, it was Generation Y, or the Millennials, born after 1980 - the first generation to come of age in the new millennium.  Of course, if you are like me, you are wondering, "Where's my generation?"  Hold on, wait for it..... people born after 1965 are Generation Xers.  And do we have any Baby Boomers in the house - born after 1946?  Just to make my moms and dads proud (yes, I have multiples of them - most GenXers do), if you were born prior to 1945, say hello to the "Silent Generation;" though my parents seem far from silent when they are offering me unsolicited advice.

Hi moms and dads, love ya!

From Marc Prensky's article from 2001, On the Horizon, the iGeneration (or Digital Natives) are known for:
  • Being the first generation to grow up completely in the digital age.
  • As a result, they inevitably think and process information differently.
  • They are used to receiving information quickly and easily.
  • They learn best when “edutained.”  I like to say "edugaged," personally.
  • They prefer graphics before text.
  • They tend to multi-task and have “hyperlinked” minds.
  • They function best when socially networked.
  • They tend to collaborate well with others.
How does the above list affect teaching and learning?  Should we be tweeting our lessons?  In 140 characters or less, today I'd like to discuss Newton's Theory of Motion.....

To assist you in your classroom and to hone the skills of your Digital Natives, consider the following seven recommendations from Marilee Sprenger's 2009 article, Focusing the Digital Brain of the Digital Native:
  1. Provide reflection time:  Digital natives tend to move at rapid speeds.  Provide time for them to stop and reflect.
  2. Disarm them:  Take away the technology and have students practice listening and reading facial/body cues.  Encourage them to “go Amish” or de-tech for a period of time.
  3. Let them teach:  Use the Digital Natives’ expertise.
  4. Use interactive white boards:  Digital Natives interact with the world through screens.  Consider meeting them in their comfort zone.  Consider embracing other technology or applications (like Twitter, Facebook, etc.).
  5. Build emotional literacy:  Digital Natives are connected to others.  Help build their emotional Intelligence so they connect in healthy, positive ways.  I feel a blog post coming on.....
  6. Teach mindfulness:  Living in a digital world can be stressful.  Help Digital Natives be in the present moment, taking a deep breath, slow down, and become more aware.
  7. Encourage storytelling:  Digital Natives are experts at finding information, but they must also be able to repackage it and share it with others.  Storytelling enhances connectedness to others and can foster connectedness to content, as well.  Daniel Pink supports this idea, too.  You know how I adore Pink.
What are you doing to edugage students?  Which ideas from Sprenger have you tried?  Parents, what are your thoughts?
From a digital immigrant,

Twitter Exit Ticket

Are you on Twitter?  Are your students' parents and families?  Did you answer yes?  Very techy.  No?  Are you living under a rock?

...OK, that was mean.  But, this is the 21st century.

According to Twitter's blog, 140 million tweets are sent a day which adds up to a billion tweets every eight days.  Yes, I just quoted a billion.  What's everyone talking about?  Life, love, the pursuit of happiness, favorite coffee drinks from Starbucks, what's on the dollar menu, how much snow dumped on Colorado's ski resorts, education, why Trader Joe's is so cool, Pink's new song...wait, did I just say "education?"

Rewind.  Yes, people are tweeting about education.  One of my favorite educational tweets is from Edutopia (George Lucas created this foundation, so you know it is cool).  You can visit (or follow) their tweet here.

Why not tweet in your classroom?  Oh, I know what you are going to say, you don't have enough computers, iTouches or smart phones.  No problem, I made you a tweet exit ticket.  See?  You can go old-school with this download and print it on paper. 

Voila, a paper tweet.  To get yourself a full page of these tweet-a-licious reflection tools, click on the image below.

...I'm kind of sassy today, aren't I?


PS - In case you liked yesterday's post on cloud computing and Common Craft, you might also like this video made by Lee and Sachi explaining Twitter.  I am helpful and sassy, yes?

Cloud computing and Common Craft

Are you hooked on Common Craft video tutorials like I am?  I swear they tickle me.  Lee LeFever and his wife, Sachi, are genius in my book.  They take misunderstood topics like cloud computing, as an example, and make them 100% digestible to us, common folk.   I have enjoyed their videos for years.  The earlier videos have more corny hand movements in them.  I must say, I miss the corny hand movements. 

The newer videos, however, tell the story so efficiently.  Take this one on social media.  B-r-i-l-l-i-a-n-t-!.

Or this older one on wikis, which has just the right splash of silliness and corny hand movements....

And finally, to understand the it-is-the-rage-of-most-tech-discussions-these-days, do watch this video on cloud computing in education.  You don't want to be left behind, do you?

I'm off to watch more videos on the Common Craft website and Youtube (search words "Common Craft").

....I'm back!  I didn't realize Common Craft creates non-tech videos, too.  This one on Project Based Learning is fantastic.  I had not heard of the Buck Institute for Education - dedicated to Project Based Learning.  S-u-p-e-r.

Yep, you learn something new everyday. 


Stephen Covey for Theories on Thursday

I may be ahead of myself as we have not yet covered emotional intelligence, but I think this post goes well with our discussion on poverty and yesterday's post about helping kids from poverty.  With that said, let's chat about Dr. Stephen Covey's Emotional Bank Account metaphor.

By the way, today is less "theory" and more bright idea.

(Photo from a Google search and Your Guide to Living; Photoshopped by Jen)
Dr. Covey has a metaphor that I consider when I am working with students or little O (and sometimes manage to forget when talking to my husband after a long day).  Sad, but true, on long days.  Dr. Covey calls it a person’s “Emotional Bank Account.”  Basically, each person you come in contact with has an emotional bank account - just like a financial bank account.  A person's emotional bank account accepts deposits and withdrawals.

Deposits are kind words, thoughtful feedback, a smile, love, kept promises, courtesy, respect, patience or a listening ear.  Withdrawals are negative comments, sarcasm, broken promises, lies, impatience and the list goes on.  Special note:  Each person values different things, so these lists of deposits and withdrawals will vary person-to-person.

Each time you interact with another person, you have an opportunity to make a deposit or withdrawal into their emotional bank account.  Which one will you choose?

With this metaphor in mind, consider the following questions:
  • How are you making deposits in your students’ emotional bank accounts?
  • How are you making unintended withdrawals? I am optimistic they are unintended....
  • For students from poverty, how can you make deposits to their emotional bank accounts knowing financial deposits, from a teacher, would be an anomaly?
  • Are you happy with your current “banking activity" overall?

If you want to students to embrace this metaphor, as well, consider this activity from Covey’s Google e-book.  The activity is for young kids, but it could be modified for any age, in my opinion.  It comes from Dr. Covey's book the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families.

If you need a good person to practice deposit making, choose a family member or loved one, as your guinea pig. 

Don't tell my husband, but I am secretly practicing emotional bank deposits on him.   And no, I don't think he reads this blog, so my secret is safe.  Mums the word. 

Off to make a deposit,


Helping students from poverty

This is Part II of our discussion on poverty from last week.  If you didn't read that initial post, click here.  Today, we will arm ourselves with creativity and ideas from academia to help students from poverty succeed in our classrooms and beyond.

(From Leo Reynold's Flickr stream; Photo taken in Scotland)
Ideas to consider:

Roots and Wings - Help students feel deeply rooted in their communities (families and schools), yet have strong wings to attempt new adventures and opportunities.  The best way to grow strong roots is to embrace the "it takes a village..." philosophy.  When mom, dad, grandma, cousins, aunts, uncles and caregivers are involved in a student's schooling and school, roots naturally become strong.  To help students grow wings, look at enrichment opportunities in your area or in an interest.  For example, if you know a student has an interest in outer space, could you find a mentor in your area (or via email) to buddy-up with your student and share their space expertise with them?  Or could you help a student write an essay to secure a scholarship to "space camp" for the summer?  Roots and wings...foster them both.

Developmental Assets - Remember this post on the Search Institutes's developmental assets?  This is a great way to help students from poverty as it is not about finances, but about other supports to help students.  Remember the more assets a student has, the more likely the student will not engage in risky behaviors.  Consider going back to this original post and printing off the developmental asset sheet for your students' age range as a reminder of which assets should be fostered.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs - Since poverty affects the foundation of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, brainstorm ways to help students get their "deficiency" needs met.  For example, if a student is homeless, can you have the address handy for a local homeless shelter and slip it privately to them?  If the student does not have a safe or quiet place to complete homework, could you open up your classroom 2-3 afternoons or early mornings a week for students to use the space as a study hall? 

Read Dr. Ruby Payne's book, A Framework for Understanding Poverty - This book should be mandatory for any educator who works with students from poverty.  A favorite section of mine is Dr. Payne's discussion of "resources" for students.  Of course, the obvious resource for a student from poverty would be money or strong finances, but let's face it, as a teacher, that resource is often times lacking even for us.  Dr. Payne states that being impoverished is not solely about money.  In fact,  in her book she lists seven other resources that can be just as valuable to students.  The top resources for students, in addition to having financial resources, would include:
  1. Emotional - Having emotional intelligence and the ability to be resilient when failures or setbacks occur.  I feel a blog post on this topic coming on.....
  2. Mental - Basic academic skills like reading, writing and mathematics; necessary for promotion in school and business.
  3. Spiritual - Believing in a purpose greater than oneself.  (Very Daniel Pink, this one, isn't it?)
  4. Physical - Having adequate physical health and wellness.
  5. Support Systems - Knowing that a strong network of family and friends exist and can be supportive.
  6. Relationships/Role Models - Having access to nurturing adults who model appropriate behaviors.
  7. Knowledge of Hidden Rules - Knowing the unspoken rules of a group.  An example may include writing a thank you note after a person does something nice for you (a very middle-class rule).  My grandmother would be saddened to know I still have not written thank you cards for gifts received over the holidays - four months ago!  As a teacher, you need to explicitly teach the hidden rules to your students from poverty if they do not know them.
  8. Financial - Having enough money to purchase goods and services.
According to Dr. Payne, three or fewer resources for a student is problematic.

Mirrors and Windows - Surround students with good people and growth experiences that allow them to see themselves in a clear light (and see others who are just like them), while providing windows to see beyond their immediate situation or neighborhood.  When I taught on the Navajo Nation, I comfortably provided many windows for students to see beyond their lives on the reservation, but since I am not Navajo (read: not a great mirror), I sought alternative ways to provide mirrors.  For example, how can students see themselves in a book character or a time period in history?  Which chemical element is most like them?  If you need help with mirrors, try what I did and connect mirrors to your subject area or content.

I believe this would be a fantastic post to hear from you in the comments section.  What other ideas do you have to help students from poverty?


Online Stopwatch: Tech Tuesday

I read a ton of blogs.  Some educational; most of them not.  What I like most about my favorite blogs is the text is limited to a paragraph or two with plenty of visuals.  Today, I will attempt to follow that.

Online Stopwatch is a simple collection free, web-based stopwatches, timers and clocks.  No log-in or username is required.  You just choose a favorite stopwatch, set the time to count up or down and off you go!  I like to use this free resource with students when they are working in small groups.  I usually have the stopwatch count down the time.  With it flashed on our big screen, students can easily see how much time is remaining to work with their group mates.

This one below is called the "egg timer."  I would have named it something else....

This one, a favorite of students, is the bomb timer.  It does ring at the end, but does not sound like an explosion.

See which stopwatches, timers or clocks you find useful at Online Stopwatch.

....Pretty good at limiting my text today, wasn't I?


Typos: My nemesis

Please forgive me, English and Language Arts teachers of the world.  And yes, I realize I am one.  I know this blog is riddled with typos and grammatical challenges.  I need an editor, indeed.  Any volunteers?

And just to make myself feel better, at least I didn't plaster my mistakes on a roadway.  See?  Things could be worse. 

For the full story, click here.


Poverty for Theories on Thursday

Today's topic, Poverty, is less theory and more research based.  It is also part of a two-part blog post which will be continued on March 23rd.  With such a huge topic, where to begin?  How about we contemplate eye-opening and disheartening facts about poverty?

(Thanks, little O, for making the US seem brighter.)
Poverty facts
  • The current poverty threshold for a family of two adults and two children is a touch over $22,000 according to the US Census Bureau.
  • From the same report, Blacks and Hispanic families experience higher rates of poverty compared to White and Asian/Pacific Islander families - almost 2:1.
  • Guess which age group experiences the most poverty?  Sadly, our children, ages 18 and younger.
  • According to a recent 60 minutes episode (see video below) and other sources, the US is reporting the most homeless children since the Great Depression.  How many of your students live in homeless shelters or short-term housing like motels?  How does homelessness affect teaching and learning?
  • Did you know some writers are calling the current generation of students the "Motel Generation" because of the increased level of homeless/houselessness?
  • 20.5 million school-aged students qualify for FARMs (Free and Reduced Meals), which is a cheerless 42.9% of our school-aged population (according to the National Center for Educational Statistics).
  • Which areas report the highest number of students who are in need of FARMS?  Washington, DC, Mississippi, and Louisiana.  With regret, all states have a portion of kids who qualify for FARMs.  Maryland has 33.5% of its school-aged population, California has 52% and the-land-of-my-soul, Colorado, 34.8% - Leave no state behind, it seems.....
  • The "new" poor of the 21st century is not limited to just kids.  The elderly, working families and married-couple families comprise the new poor of this century.  And yes, I did say "working" families.  Evidently, the current minimum wage of $7.25 isn't cutting it.  By the way, I just did the math for two working adults who work 40 hours a week at minimum wage (and deducted 1/3 for taxes).  Their weekly income (after taxes) would be $191/adult.  That translates to $19,864 a year for a family with two working adults - this is below the poverty threshold as reported in bullet #1.  No wonder some high school students drop out of school to gain full-time employment.
  • Poverty has socio-emotional effects.  Many students report feeling "embarrassed" about their lack of food, clothing, and shelter.  Some students also believe it is their fault their family is in poverty (e.g.:  "I am one more mouth to feed....").  Students report studying by flashlight (when the electricity is turned off) or sleeping in their family's car when a motel is too expensive. For educators, how does a student's socio-emotional state affect teaching and learning?
  • If you know Abraham Maslow's work and his Hierarchy of Needs, right now you are thinking, "Oh no!  I've got students with considerable foundational needs."  And yes, I just linked to Wikipedia for Maslow's work.  If you look at the hierarchy below, you can see how the first two foundational levels, at a minimum, are affected by poverty. 

For those of you who like news shows like, 60 minutes, this 60 minute segment inspired today's post.  It originally aired on March 6th, 2011.  My husband, P, and I (and even little O) felt the information was startling.

How can we help our students from poverty?  Next week on Wednesday, March 23rd, we will tackle some ideas to consider.  Be thinking of your own ideas and we can share them that day.

Armed with creativity and hope,

PS - For those of you who appreciate statistics and data, the US Census Bureau's collection of data and stats is brimming.  Click here to see their tremendous collection of reports.

PSS - For those of you who feel a call-to-action now, a friend just shared this foundation's mission with me.  If you are in the mid-Atlantic region and have furniture or time to spare, you could make a difference.  Visit A Wider Circle.  Of course, monetary donations are always accepted.

Teaching Abroad

Many of you know my background from reading my initial post here.  If not, I have taught in a hodgepodge of amazing places both in the US and abroad.  Here are some leads and tips for landing a job abroad.

(Drawn on fabric by Jen; Hand painted by little O)
International Teaching Fairs
  • Attend an international teaching fair.  Two of the biggest are the UNI Overseas Recruiting Fair and the ISS Fairs.  Both organizations offer fairs in February, thus, I'm planting a seed for next year, 2012!  I attended the UNI fair a decade ago just to see what the fair would be like and literally landed six jobs all in South America, my targeted destination.  Both fairs require you are a certified teacher.  The fairs also require an application fee.  What I appreciated about the fairs is they mean business!  The international schools in attendance are ready to hire - impressive schools from all parts of the globe - Switzerland to China to Ecuador and beyond.
  • Before the fair, prepare!  Research schools, countries, curriculum, special programs, etc.  Many schools abroad have IB programs, so familiarize yourself with those if you are not already savvy. 
  • In your research and at the fair, target an area of the world you'd like to teach or be open to many areas of the world.  For me, I only wanted to live in South America (a life-long dream of mine at the time) and thus, I focused on job positions there.  I didn't even apply to positions in other countries while attending the fair nor entertain requests to interview with other countries.  And yes, many schools will seek you out to interview as they all have access to your resume and credentials.  I must say, it felt really great to be wooed by schools.
  • At the fair, be ready for long days!  You will need to dress professionally, have extra resumes on hand, possibly bring your teaching portfolio (more on this in a moment) and arrive to the fair ready to shine!  You need to be your most engaging self while at the fair.  Get a great night's rest.
  • Most job fairs are multiple days.  I did land all six jobs in one day and thus, the second day of the fair was spent determining which job offer to accept - which is awfully exciting.  However, many of my comrades were interviewing and scouting out schools on the second day, so be open to a busy fair schedule.
  • I only advise bringing a current teaching portfolio if you plan to use it.  I like to use my portfolio (which could stand a major revision and update) when a prospective employer asks me a question that I know my portfolio (and I) can address.  I then will flip to the part of my portfolio that demonstrates my response to their question and the employer can visually see my response while I describe it.  For example, if an employer were to ask me about assessment, I could flip to my assessment section and show some of my original assessment tools and assignments.  Seeing is believing sometimes and that's when portfolios are most helpful.  If you have an electronic portfolio, use it if you can easily access the artifacts.  You certainly don't want employers to wait for you to locate and open your documents or photos.
  • After your interviews at the fair, bring thank you cards to hand write to the schools who interviewed you and leave them immediately for your prospective employers.  I made my own cards that said, "The world is my classroom," on the front.  Thank you cards help put your name in front of the prospective schools one more time.
  • If you are married or in a relationship with another educator, you can also apply and interview as a team.  Most of the fairs have a system for doing so which makes interviewing and landing positions together doable.  If you are married to a non-educator and/or have children, most international schools have systems to hire you and have your family accompany you with ease.  US kids growing up in international schools have a unique opportunity to see the world, learn new languages, and travel.  Win-win-win.
(I always thought it would be enjoyable to teach in Costa Rica, too...)

DOD Schools - Department of Defense
  • This is not my expertise at all, DOD schools, but I do know of educators who have enjoyed working at DOD schools. 
  • According to the DOD website, you can target an area of the world that interests you and explore current job postings.
  • Most DOD schools are located on military bases and attended by US students only.  International schools, alternatively, are mainly attended by locals from that country - which is my preferred clientele while teaching overseas.
Teaching in the US, but immersing yourself in another culture
  • If you are not quite ready to make the jump to another country, consider staying in the US, but teaching in another culture.
  • If you are from a rural area, consider teaching in an urban setting.  If you are from a Hispanic community, consider teaching in a predominately Asian one.  In the US, there are many opportunities to immerse yourself in new cultures and environments.
  • My personal favorite spot to teach in the US is in Kayenta, Arizona on the Navajo Nation.  Gosh, I adore my Navajo high school students and their families.  Thankfully, many of my students from a decade ago still keep in contact with me.  This school district, Kayenta Unified School District, was superb and each year, they look for dynamic teachers.  You can see their current job postings here
If you have any questions on landing a job overseas or even teaching on the Navajo Nation, please email me at jenglara at or leave a comment below.

Happy teaching, exploring and traveling,

Subscribing to blogs: Tech Tuesday

Understanding how to subscribe to blogs is a "must have" skill for the 21st century as blogs are the "new" magazines of the times.  Unfortunately, the process is confusing to many would-be-subscribers.  Let's break it down.

The easiest way to subscribe to a blog is by email.  Look for this type of feature on the blogs you like.  There are only three things to consider when doing this:  1) The person who runs the blog will now have your email address (I have never had my email shared with a third party, but I am just saying you should understand that you are sharing your email), 2) sometimes blog emails end up in your SPAM folder, so if you notice you aren't getting blog emails you subscribed to, then check your SPAM folder and consider adding the blogger's email address to your contacts and 3) Many blogs have other neat features or articles that are not included in an email subscription.  Thus, consider visiting the actual blog from time -to-time versus only reading the blog emails you are sent.  Look for a subscription window like this:

You can also subscribe to a a blog "feed."  For people who read multiple blogs, this is an efficient way to subscribe.  Instead of having your email inbox inundated with blog emails, you can access all the blogs you like using a Yahoo, Google or similar homepage.  The most popular way to read multiple blogs right now is via Google's Reader which allows you to log onto your Google account and read all the latest blog entries in list form.  Look for an image like this one below to subscribe to a blog feed:

Much like Facebook fans and for blog readers who like to leave comments, you can also "follow" a blog.  For Upcycled Education, if you follow the blog you will need to log in using a Google, Yahoo or Twitter account (I believe) to begin following.  Once you are a follower, it is super easy to leave comments on a blog post, tweet a post and see updates via Google's Blogger (which is like its own blog reading  and creation program).   For serious blog followers, "following" is a great resource as it rolls several features up into one:  Seeing all your blogs at once via Google Reader or Blogger, being able to share the blog via Twitter and makes leaving blog comments a breeze.  As an added bonus to the blog, it does show the blog some love - aka: popularity.  The more followers, the better the blog circulation.  Look for images like this below to begin following:

There are other ways to become more involved in blogging and subscribing.  Right below each post on most blogs, you will see little icons.  You can click on the appropriate icon to leave a comment, email a post to an interested friend, and share on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites.  Look for this information below each post to extend your blog reading experience:

Most blogs will have similar features for subscribing and sharing.  Be open to slightly different icons, but the functionality generally remains the same.  If you haven't subscribed to Upcycled Education, practice subscribing using one of the ideas above and see what you think.  Remember, this blog ends in mid-May - bittersweet, I know.

Happy blog subscribing and involvement,

Preparing for St. Patty's Day

I thought I would never be one of those teachers (or moms) who lived from one holiday to another, alas, I have semi-become that educator.  I still don't wear decorative sweaters for each holiday, but I am unafraid of celebratory artwork. 

Option #1:  "Lucky" artwork from the Funky Polkadot Giraffe blog

I love the upcycled buttons in this one.  Wouldn't this one be cute framed or as a gift?  In the meantime, you could do a quick color print on your home printer and hang the artwork on your classroom door.  Your students are "lucky" to have you, aren't they?  To access, click on the image below and download the file.  You can choose from three different sizes to print thanks to Kyla from the Funky Polkadot Giraffe.  I added the green frame around the edge myself for more St. Patrick's day flair.

Option #2:  "Rainbow quote" from the Simple as That blog.

As you can see, I am embracing St. Patrick's day, but not focusing on the "saint" part.  I am all about a good rainbow.  To access, click on the image below and download the file.  From Rebecca, you have just one option on size (though, you could resize it in Publisher or another program).   I added the green frame around the edge myself, again. 

If you have other St. Patty's day artwork leads, please post them in the comments section below. 



Motivation: Lessons from Daniel Pink

Daniel Pink's work is required reading in my edutopia.

My personal Drive copy is plastered with handwritten notes in pencil.  I am certain there is a positive correlation between the amount I write in a book and a book's sustenance.  Mr. Pink, hats off to you for your collection of research, your infused interpretations and "toolkits." Turning theory into practice is relatively easy for self-proclaimed "busy" people like me because of them.

...Evidently, not too busy to keep up a blog each week.  Do you believe Upcycled Education receives about 500 page views a week?  All you, lovely educators and allies....thank you.

Though, I could blog for the next ten weeks about Pink's work and Drive, I will share with you just a few highlights as I really want you to read Drive.  By the way, if you purchase your own copy of Drive, fill out this form and Daniel Pink will send you a free, signed bookplate to insert into your book.  See mine?

According to Pink, motivation has three essential elements:  autonomy, mastery, and purpose. For humans to be intrinsically motivated (motivated from within oneself), all three must be present and balanced.

Pink defines autonomy as the ability "to act with choice" and "direct your own life."  Do your students have autonomy over the following Ts? Parents, do your kids?
    • Time - Do your students have control over when they complete a task, lesson, activity or assessment?
    • Task - Do your students have control over what task, lesson, activity or assessment they choose to complete?
    • Technique - Do your students have control over how they complete their task, lesson, activity or assessment?
    • Team - Do your students have control over who they work with to complete their task, lesson, activity or assessment?
My guess, if you are in a traditional public school setting, is "no" on most of the Ts above. 
By the way, Montessori schools get yes-yes-yes-yes on all four Ts above. 
 How's that for fostering autonomy in our youth?


Pink states mastery is "becoming better at something that matters."  The trick here is finding out what matters to your students and then figuring out how that relates to teaching and learning.   In other words, what contributes to their flow.  If you missed our discussion of Flow Theory last week, start there since flow is essential to intrinsic motivation.  For educators, we must employ all our tools to learn about our students:  interest inventories, online surveys, face-to-face conversations, journals, calls home, etc. Like big businesses do, the more we know about our "client" or "customer," the better.  By the way, mastery is NEVER an easy street.  Be ready for lots of Piaget's disequilibrium.  Michael Jordan didn't get great at basketball without zillions of days of practice, right?  Same with our students. Ask yourself...

What do your students want to master? 
What do you want your students to master? 
Is there an intersection or commonality between the two?

I heard Jonathon Mooney say that he worked with a student who was a successful drug ring leader.  This student said he "wasn't good at anything."  Mooney responded, "You run a successful 50 person drug ring and you think you aren't good at anything?  Man, we just need to find you a new product."

Pink states that "humans, by their nature, seek purpose - a greater cause and more enduring than themselves."  Here's what you need to know about purpose....
    • Money doesn't buy you purpose.
    • Purpose typically shines through when students feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves - a school community, a team, a club, a caring classroom, a loving family, etc.
    • In the 21st century, there are new models of social entrepreneurship that mix business with social purpose.  Think TOMS shoes, Project 7 gum, and my future small business, Cloth with a Cause.  A girl can dream of using her social entrepreneurship skills, can't she? Many students this century are familiar with these new models of business; how could you discuss "purpose" using these models?  Could you find models that relate to your content area and infuse them in your lessons?  Additionally.....
How can you help students identify their purpose? 
Have you started dedications with your students to foster purpose?

Believe me, this is just the tip of a lovely, awesome, fresh iceberg of Daniel Pink's, Drive.  Treat yourself to this must-read book to explore motivation.  Of course, it's your choice :)


Motivational spa treatments

In preparation for tomorrow's post on Daniel Pink's book, Drive, it is time to incite your motivation.

Give yourself the luxury of five minutes.  I know, I know....who's got five minutes to spare?  Consider today's post a spa treatment for your soul.

Photo by Leo Reynolds; Photoshopped by Jen
Spa treatment #1 for motivation
Set the timer on your cell phone for three minutes.  When time begins, answer the question:  What motivates me?  Keep writing nonstop until time is up.  If you run out of things to say, keep repeating the question aloud "What motivates me?" and answer it.  Do not concern yourself with spelling, punctuation or being repetitive. After, take a look at what you wrote.  Underline common themes or big ideas.  Your stream of consciousness has something to say.  What did it reveal about what motivates you?

Spa treatment #2 for motivation

Use Pink's "big question" activity.  "In 1962, Clare Booth Luce, one of the first women to serve in the US Congress, offered some advice to President John F. Kennedy.  'A great man,' she told him, 'is one sentence.'"  What is your one sentence? 

Me?  Jen lived her life passionately embracing the motto - life is an adventure.  First draft.

Spa treatment #3 for motivation

Create an inspiration board.  Pink advocates doing this as do most artists and designers.  You can put one together fairly quickly especially if you have your favorite magazines, catalogs, and photos laying around.  Here is my board right now.  It inspires me (although the photo quality doesn't).

Spa treatment #4 for motivation

DIY motivational signage.  This one, which I found in a Patagonia catalog last winter, cracks me up.  For skiers/boarders, it is plain and simple motivation to choose a trail wisely.  Seeing it, brings me delight - which in itself is motivating.

To create your own signage, check out this free web-collection of tools, Big Huge Labs.  I lost count at 20 how many options they have to create your own signage.  The "Motivator" tool might be just what you are looking for...(though, I could see your face on the cover of a faux magazine using the "Magazine Cover" tool).

Alrighty, go give yourself a motivational spa treatment.

Come on, you deserve it :)


Newsmap for Tech Tuesday

Today's Tech Tuesday is simple, yet engaging.  Newsmap is a free, web-tool that visually represents the top news story drawn from Google's News Aggregator.  What's neat about this tool is - using its built in algorithm - it displays top headlines (and articles) from the United States OR around the world.  You just pick a specific country - like Germany, Canada, India, etc. and watch the visual magic unfold.  You can even choose more than one country at a time and the display will show the countries side-by-side.

For example, imagine if you and your students are studying India.  You can use the tabs at the top of the Newsmap to choose "India" and see which headlines are most popular to Indians at that point in time.  See how the Newsmap changed below (from the one above) when I clicked the "India" tab?  By the way, the larger the text or color block the more that headline is being accessed - in this case, by people within India.

You can also use the upper right search window and type in a keyword.   Here I typed in "education" (with the US tab chosen) and look at all the stories related to education (or that mention the word "education") it produced.

As you can probably tell, the stories are color coded.  You can see the tiny color legend at the bottom right of the Newsmaps.  The mustard color represents "national" stories.  The bright green color represents "business" stories.  The pink color represents "health" stories.  And so on.

Another useful feature I like:  If you run your mouse over the headline, each headline is hyperlinked to the actual article.  You can click on it easily or students can.

I like to have Newsmap on the big screen in my classroom as students are walking into class.  Not everyday, of course, but when it seems appropriate (or when I have nothing else planned as they are walking into class!).  Then, students can easily see the big headlines for that day especially since most of my students do not read a newspaper.  If time permits, as a class, we may choose 1-3 headlines to click on and explore.

If you have other useful ways to use Newsmap, please leave your ideas in the comments section below.


Giveaway Winner!

Drum roll, please.....

The winner of the first ever Upcycled Education giveaway in partnership with Presenter Media is....

Star W.!  Star wrote:

"Here's another idea--I love to make science and math word problems that "hook" my middle school students. In addition to using student names and creating wacky scenarios, I think adding animation from this website would be a great way of keeping students engaged in critical thinking problems. I can see it already...A gecko was playing hoops one day (insert animation of gecko playing basketball!) and decided to calculate the density of the basketball...So great!"

Congratulations, Star!  To claim your prize for a free, one year subscription to Presenter Media's collection of templates, animations and clip art, email me at jenglara at

To all our entries, thank you for leaving your thoughtful comments.

My best,

DIY Artwork

If it isn't obvious, I am passionate about education, Colorado, art and craft.  There are probably a whole host of other topics I am passionate about - like Montessori schools - but I will keep it short today.  It is Friday after all, correct?

(Students Rock)

And speaking of which, you have until midnight today, March 4, 2011 to enter the first Upcycled Education giveaway.  Trust me, you want to win this prize.  Click here for the 4-1-1.

In efforts to help you create an inspiring classroom, you and your students need something fun to look at on the walls.  Voila, this customizable artwork (see above) you can create for any content area or any grade level.  I should also add I made these as holiday gifts for some lucky friends and family this year.  Funky and fresh, no?  To make your own artwork, I will link to the online tutorial from the My 3 Monsters blog here.  Amy, the mom to the monsters, used a free program called Gimp to manipulate and resize her images.  I used Microsoft Publisher to do the same and found it quite easy to do.  Here are my value-added tips:
  • Follow Amy's tutorial
  • Use Microsoft Publisher - if you know how
  • Choose a blank 8.5 x 11 document to create; Choose either portrait or landscape orientation
  • Visit Leo Reynold's Flickr stream and choose your letters, numbers or symbols; Download those
  • Insert the downloaded photos into Publisher; Resize as necessary to fit onto your 8.5 x 11 paper
  • Save your document in two ways - as a Publisher file and as a Jpeg file
  • If you save as a Jpeg file, you can go to Costco (great photo prices) or any photo place (even Fedex Kinkos) and have the document enlarged or reduced
  • The artwork looks great in enlarged sizes (11 x 14, for example) and also looks swell framed (look for online for coupons to Michaels or Joanns; I also like IKEA's frames; great prices)
Can you tell I am thinking of Colorado and three sports I like to do there?

Here I am showing off my Spanish....Enjoy life. 

Oh, go have's Friday....Final hours until the giveaway ends and the winner is announced Saturday, March 5th!  Click on the image below for details.


PS - If you missed this post, find more cool (and free) artwork here.

Flow theory and motivation

Say this last name five times fast (pronounced chick-sent-me-high-ee).  Ready? Csikszentmihalyi, Csikszentmihalyi, Csikszentmihalyi, Csikszentmihalyi, Csikszentmihalyi.  Kind of a mouthful, huh?  This professor of psychology is brilliant.  Maybe the more letters in your last name, the more brilliant you are.  ...I only have four letters in my last name.....bad theory.

Can you think of a time where you thoroughly enjoyed yourself?  Where the minutes and hours melted away and you lost all sense of yourself?  Blogging right now does that to me.  If I didn't have to eat, grade papers or be a mom, I could type, innovate, and create for hours.  That, my friendly blog reader, is "flow."

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes flow, throughout his work, as "an intense emotional involvement" or "being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. [Where] the ego falls away.  Time flies.  Every action, movement and thought follows inevitably from the previous one....[where] your whole being is involved, and you're using your skills to the utmost." 

There are seven components to flow; sometimes you will find this list expanded to nine.  The spirit of flow includes that......
  1. You are completely involved in what you are doing.  You have focus and concentration.
  2. You have a sense of ecstasy - or being outside reality.
  3. You have greater clarity.  You know what needs to be done and have a sense of how you are proceeding towards that activity, goal or task.
  4. You know the activity is doable and that you have adequate skills.
  5. You have a sense of serenity. You have no worries about yourself; you grow past the boundaries of your ego.
  6. You feel a sense of timelessness.  You are focused on the present; the minutes and hours just slip away.
  7. You have intrinsic motivation. Whatever you are engaged in becomes its own reward.  You work, learn or do for its own sake.  Take that carrots and sticks!
To achieve flow, Csikszentmihalyi believes you (or your students) need just the right balance of "challenge" and "skill level."  Too much or too little of one, and not the other, and you are no-flow - my hyphenated words, not his.  This graphic gleaned from a Google image search shows this visually:

Image from
According to Csikszentmihalyi, the best way to get to a state of "flow," if you aren't there already, is to access it by one of it's neighbors - control or arousal.  Control means you are comfortable with the current task or activity, but you are not in flow.  To get to flow from here, you need to increase the challenge you face.  Arousal is when you are over challenged, but your skill level isn't quite there yet.  Think of Vygotsky's zone of proximal development.  If you need a refresher, click here. In arousal, you need to be gently nudged to develop your skills.  The less flow-like in the visual above is apathy - low challenge and low skills.  Think complete indifference and absence of interest.

Yuck.  Have you ever had a student who felt apathetic?

Next time you teach a lesson, engage in an activity or just do something you or your students love - sit back and observe.  Are you in flow?  Are they?  If yes, high five!  If not, how can you inch over to it?

All the best,

Have you entered the first ever Upcycled Education giveaway?  Click on the image below for more information.

Swotting at education

A year ago, I took my first business class in entrepreneurial studies.  The class title lured me because of these two words: creativity and innovation.  Those seemed useful to me as an educator.  The class was fantastic and my mind stretched.  I couldn't help but think all semester long, "How can educators use these ideas in their classrooms?"

Today is all about "swotting" a lesson.  Or in business jargon, doing a SWOT analysis.  The next time you teach a lesson (which always includes teacher reflection in the lesson cycle, right?) or the next time you are crafting a lesson, consider swotting it.


What are the strengths of this lesson?  What worked?  What were the greatest moments within the lesson?  What did students enjoy most?  What did you enjoy most?  How did the lesson meet your learning objectives for the day?


What are the weaknesses in this lesson?  What part(s) of the lesson seem less engaging?  Where did the lesson lose steam? 


What opportunities are available to improve this lesson?  What other resources could you include?  How can you provide extension activities for students who want to learn more?  How can parents and families get involved?  How can parents and families extend the learning at home?


What threatens the lesson?  How will you manage your resources and materials?  Time?  Budget?  Volunteers?  How will your lesson be impacted if  technology is unavailable that day?

Put on your business hats and see what other questions you can develop.  Could you teach students how to SWOT their own work?  Could you use the SWOT analysis with the committees you serve? Please post your ideas in the comments section below. 

Off to write a business plan, I mean, lesson plan.

PS - Did you enter our giveaway yet?  You have until March 4th, 2011 at midnight EST.  Click on the image below for more details.

Presenter Media and Giveaway

The giveaway is now closed, but check back in late March or early April for our next giveaway!

Happy Anniversary to Upcycled Education!  We've been at this bloggin' thing a month and we have over 2,000 page views and 75 comments by blog readers to date!  Yay, for educators, students, parent-followers and teaching & learning!  Special thank you to little O and P for letting me sneak up to our studio to blog away.

Are you ready for our most popular day - Tech Tuesday and our first ever giveaway?  Yep, all this week until Friday, March 4th, 2011 at midnight EST, you can enter to win.  I'll let you enjoy the suspense until the end of the post to reveal the prize.

Today's Tech Tuesday was recently introduced to me by a colleague. Let me set the stage... I am sitting in a department meeting, which I adore because I seriously work with the most amazing colleagues.  These women are uber-bright, avid go-getter, teacher types.  Working with them is like working with the dream team. One of our colleagues - who happens to be a stellar ex-principal and chooses to continue working although she's retired - is walking us a through a presentation on the latest Blue Ribbon Panel report on transforming teacher education.  This super colleague starts using PowerPoint - sometimes I call it PowerPointless as it is entirely overused.  But, nonetheless, here I am at the meeting and I am interested in the contents of the report.  However, this is no ordinary PowerPoint.  This one is completely engaging!  Welcome, Presenter Media.

Presenter Media is a subscription-based treasure trove of animated clip art, high quality graphics and captivating templates.  The aforementioned all work on PC or Mac operating systems and are available in formats that play nicely with PowerPoint versions 1997-2010.  Very simply, you join Presenter Media - they kindly have a discounted subscription rate for educators.  Email them here to inquire; they are quick to respond to emails from my experience.  Once you are a member, you can download as many templates, clip art and graphics as you desire!  Once they are downloaded, they are yours to use forever!

Here is a sample of animated symbols and signs.  Click here to see the Math Symbols Bouncing Up and Down - it's a favorite of mine.

Here is a sample of templates for science lessons.  My two favorites are the sweet Green Earth Butterfly and Red Blood Cell Vein  - which sounds creepy, but it is entirely engaging.

Using the templates and artwork is easy.  I think the getting started tutorial is well worth the watch as the owner, Art, literally walks you through the process of downloaded and using the templates and artwork.  Plus, once you download, they are yours to use forever!  Did I mention that already ? 

And now.... a BIG thank you to Art and his colleagues over at Presenter Media - the first ever giveaway on Upcycled Education is a free subscription!  If you use PowerPoint, have wanted to use it or you know someone who would benefit by having a one-year subscription to Presenter Media - enter the giveaway!

The giveaway is now closed, but check back in late March or early April for our next giveaway!

Here's the skinny:

  • Domestic and international entries welcomed!
  • Visit Presenter Media and explore the engaging templates, animations and clip art.
  • Down below this post where it says "comments," leave a comment about which template, animation or clip art you like best and how you think it could be used for teaching and learning.  As always, no passwords or usernames are required.
  • You can enter up to three times; just leave three different comments below. 
  • All entries must be posted by midnight on Friday, March 4th, 2011, Eastern Standard Time
  • One lucky winner will be announced on Saturday morning, post-my-morning-cup-of-coffee-with-cream-and-sugar.
The giveaway is now closed, but check back in late March or early April for our next giveaway!

Isn't this fun?  Free stuff and Tech Tuesday?  Do enter below and entice your friends and colleagues to play. 

Thank you, Presenter Media and yippee!