All it Takes is One – Do you Agree?

Posted by kcaise on January 12, 2015 in blogging |

imageI have been working on a special project where I score educator’s compositions in response to a posed question. For the majority of the responses, I do not know where, what level or content area the educators teach. It is amazing how much information you can gather as to the type of educator the author of the response is.

I can tell if they are a caring, compassionate educator from the written compositions that as well as educators who aren’t as dedicated to their students. Granted it could just be baloney in the responses or the writing style but fortunately most of the responses are very positive and the educators give evidence as to their positive teaching style and practice in the classroom. Granted I don’t know for sure but the comments appear to be good indicators as to how the educator feels about their students.

When I taught fourth and fifth grade, we always said we could predict which student was going to join a gang or drop out and who was going to be successful in their academic career. Were we right every time? No, we probably weren’t.

For those on the wrong track, what was the deciding factor if they continued down the wrong path or changed directions and began to exhibit successful traits? The intervention of a caring teacher. Some students truly do not realize their potential or want to put forth the effort to be successful.

Research shows that when a caring adult intervenes in a child’s academic path and performance, success can result. All it takes is one teacher to step in and encourage a student that is heading towards gang activity, drug or alcohol abuse, or has given up on school.

When I taught sixth grade, I saw numerous students turn around because one of the three teachers of the team I was on intervened. It didn’t take a great deal of time, usually an encouraging private conversation and praise in class. Sometimes we have to search for something good to praise students for but the effort in making a positive difference in the lives of our students is worth it. As Angela Maiers shares with educators and students, “You Matter!” Letting students know they matter can make all the difference and cause a student to see things differently and take a different life path. It can be very simple – one conversation with one student and praising a student one time. All it takes is one.

What are your thoughts? Please weigh in in the comments below. I welcome your thoughts and feedback.

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Writer’s Block – How do you Break Through?

Posted by kcaise on January 7, 2015 in blogging |

There are many times when a book or blog author runs into writer’s block and is unsure or totally blocked about that to write about next. I have the manuscript for a second book that needs to be finalized and I have been struggling with writing blog posts so I am stuck on both accounts. For those authors that have experienced this, what are some techniques that you use to break through and begin writing again? I try to read other blogs, newspapers, books, etc. to gather topics that move me and that I want to explore further via reading or writing. I would love to know what you do when you feel blocked? Please take a moment to leave a comment and let me know your thoughts and how you overcome writer’s block!



Crazy for Brainzy – Get a FREE Membership!

Posted by kcaise on January 3, 2015 in apps and gaming, curriculum, Digital Media |

The second set of codes are all gone. Sorry if you missed out. Remember each code is good for up to 35 students/children. I have asked for more and will send them out in order of comments left below. Enjoy and thank you Brainzy for sharing your site with my readers!



I don’t usually endorse paid educational services but Brainzy changed my mind. Brainzy is a website created by Education.com and contains over 300 games, stories, songs and videos for children aged 3-7 years old.

There is an annual or monthly cost associated with using the site but I have 10 codes that can be used for a home membership or in the classroom with up to 35 students. Just leave a comment below I will send you a code for a one year membership. For early childhood educators or homeschool parents this is very exciting news!

The press release stated the following about this new educational website:

Brainzy_Math_and_Reading_ProgramSan Francisco, CA, September 25, 2014Education.com, the nation’s leading destination for parents and teachers seeking supplemental learning materials, today announced the launch of Brainzy, a new kind of online learning program designed to build reading and math skills in children ages 3–7. Developed using rich data gathered from the 20 million worksheets downloaded each year at Education.com, Brainzy features hundreds of interactive games and activities that captivate young minds and delight parents weary of filling screen time with so-called education apps. Brainzy’s comprehensive program follows a methodical, building-block path created to spark curiosity, giggles, and grins while building more than 30 critical reading and math skills.    

The systematic approach of the new program sets it apart from the thousands of learning apps that take a one-off, episodic approach. Brainzy covers the essential skills teachers consider most important for early learning success while deeply engaging kids in a world rich with exploration. Guided by a lovable cast of original characters, kids cover a year’s worth of learning as they play through more than 300 fun games, videos, and read-along stories.

Brainzy takes kids to a pretend land and is full of educational games. Education.com takes the data of what the students to understand what typeBrainzy_Math_and_Reading_Programs of supplemental resources educators are looking for when using educational games and websites. It gathers real-time data from the games, videos and items accessed at the site to create quality supplementary resources for educators.

Education.com’s website has five million members with millions more visiting the website for blog posts and educational articles every month. Education.com serves as one resource for motivation, inspiration, advice and materials to use with students.

Knowing this, you can rest assured Brainzy is a quality site aligned with the Common Core State Standards and is filled with fun, fantastic resources to teach young children skills they will need to be successful in school.

girl-with-ipad-hires_jpg_and_announcing_Brainzy__new_games_for_math_and_reading_-_kcaise_gmail_com_-_GmailBrainzy is kid safe and does not contain advertisements so you don’t have to worry about pop up banners or banner ads that are questionable or inappropriate.

Check it out and don’t forget to leave a comment below and I will contact you for a code for a FREE one year membership!

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Connect with Santa using Technology

Posted by kcaise on December 24, 2014 in blogging |

It’s time for my yearly ‘connect with Santa’ blog post! This is a great time of year if you have little ones that are eagerly santa493awaiting Santa’s arrival on Christmas Eve. The following links will enable youngsters to contact Santa Claus online or receive a phone call from him! I am reprising this blog post from the past two years and have added some new ways to connect to Santa Claus using technology. If you find the links are not working, please let me know and leave your favorite links in the comments section that might not be in the short list below.

Chat with or Call Santa

In addition to taking children to the mall to talk with Santa, as has been the tradition for a number of years, there are a variety of ways that children can interact with Santa Claus electronically.  There are several apps that you can download for a variety of mobile devices. Those are cute but a live ‘call’ or ‘message’ from Santa may be more meaningful and exciting to your children or grandchildren.

Below is a list of some of my favorite ways for children to interact with Santa. Whenever possible, I tried to include free opportunities as I know parents and grandparents can be exploited when really cute videos and phone calls are created and the eyes of children are filled with such excitement, delight and anticipation!

Santa’s Portable North Pole TV – http://www.portablenorthpole.tv/home

  • This site allows you to create a video but there is a fee to download/forward the video to someone.

Hello Santa – https://www.hellosanta.com/

My Santa Callhttp://www.mysantacall.com/

Elf Clubhouse (talk to the Elves) – http://www.northpole.com/Clubhouse/ElfChat/

Santa’s Good List – http://www.santasgoodlist.org/

Christmas Dialer – http://www.christmasdialer.com/

Live Phone Call from Santahttp://santaspeaks.com/call-from-santa/

Santa Callhttps://www.google.com/santatracker/#/village/santacal

Calling Santa - http://callingsanta.com (free app to download)

Santa Hotline – http://thesantahotline.net/

North Pole – http://www.northpole.com (letter from Santa)

Norad – http://www.noradsanta.org

Santa Tracker http://santatracker.google.com

Santa Live Chathttp://www.santalivechat.com/

  • If you use use MSN/Windows Live Messenger or Yahoo Messenger, add: santalivechat@hotmail.com and begin chatting with Santa Claus.***

Free Text Message from Santa

If you would like a free text message from Santa, contact me by filling out the form below and I will send a short text message to you for your children in the United States. If I get bogged down with tons of texts to send I will contact you. This will be done by myself so allow some time to get things processed.

My niece absolutely loved her phone call from Santa from the http://www.sendacallfromsanta.com/ website a few years ago. That and the portable north pole video were two big hits of the Christmas season for our family! Be sure to let Santa Claus know that I will be waiting for him with cookies and milk and carrots for his reindeer on Christmas Eve when you connect with him this year!

Children: Please do not leave voice messages for Santa Claus. He does not receive them here. Contact him at one of the numbers above or at the North Pole. Also, be sure to have your parents’ permission and show them this blog page before you contact Santa Claus or his Elves.

***Blogger’s note: I haven’t personally used all of the above services so please use discretion and make sure all children are safe and have parental permission when using an online service to interact with ‘Santa Claus’. Be certain that you approve of the site and read over the website’s Terms of Services for any fees incurred when contacting Santa Claus.

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10 Essential Traits of Effective Educators – Paychecks of the Heart

Posted by kcaise on December 24, 2014 in blogging |

Effective educators are effective for a reason. Whether the educator teachers online or offline, effective educators contain 10 traits that make them successful. When you see an effective educator in action, you will see the following traits in action as well.

1. Effective educators know their content and continue to learn new things in their content area. They are life long learners and are not afraid to say they don’t know something and know just where to go to find the information they are lacking. This could be an online resource, colleague or someone from their own personal learning network.

2. Effective educators take learning risks and create an environment where students feel comfortable doing the same. Asking questions of the teacher in front of the class or answering a question posed to the class and risking getting it wrong are encouraged and students aren’t afraid to take those risks. Students know that failure means a First Attempt at Learning and aren’t embarrassed if failure happens in the classroom.

3. Reflection upon lessons and a determination is made about what went well and what needs to be changed or eliminated. Reflection is a natural part of the learning and teaching process for effective educators.

4. Consistency is key to success. Consistency with rules, procedures, and routines is essential to a positive climate in the classroom. Teaching styles and lesson implementation can vary but the foundational principles and expectations must be consistent.

5. Lesson styles vary when delivering course content. Technology, science probes or a variety of things are incorporated to differentiate learning and meet the different learning styles of the students.

6. Classroom climate cultivates and reflects mutual respect and dignity. Student to teacher and student to student interaction is positive and respect is modeled and practiced.

7. Flexibility and organization are two traits that are apparent and students are guided in how to organize themselves according to their personality and learning styles. Organization is extremely important to success and effective educators model organization strategies and are flexible enough to be able to reach a variety of students’ needs.

8. Effective educators employ strategies to include parents, the community and a variety of educational stakeholders in the lessons and events occurring in the classroom.

9. Teaching course content is enjoyable and rewarding to effective educators. They enjoy what they teach and have limited misbehavior or discipline issues. Behavior problems are lessened when learning activities are hands-on, interesting, engaging and meaningful to the students.

10. Effective educators connect and collaborate with other educators to learn and share teaching ideas, strategies and resources. Effective educators know when to reach out to share strengths or seek help for a weakness and strive to increase the learning potential of each student in the classroom.

Truly effective educators are a rare breed. Student achievement in their classrooms are phenomenal and top the charts. Effective educators are not perfect with perfect students but the negative issues are greatly outweighed by the positive things happening in the classroom. Effective educators strive for greatness not for the monetary paycheck, but for paychecks of the heart by seeing their students achieve their maximum potential.

What other traits do effective educators exhibit that I did not include? I would love to hear how you earn ‘paychecks of the heart’ from your students!

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MIT STEM Video Project – Free Videos

Posted by kcaise on December 8, 2014 in blogging, Digital Media |

MIT shares that it has ‘gone into the movie making business’. The university’s Teaching and Learning Laboratory recently produced and released 47 “STEM Concept Videos” with Creative Commons licenses that allow educators to view and share the videos in the classrooom. They are also part of the school’s website through its OpenCourseWare website. Any educator is able to use the videos to teach complex engineering concepts and written authorization is not necessary in this context.

The videos cover themes that are geared toward first and second year engineering students but many high school students could benefit from the catalog of videos. The video topics include engineering curricula such as, “…problem solving, communications, probability and statistics, equilibrium and nine other broad categories.”

The content for each short video was thoroughly vetted with talented faculty and authors for the video scripts. Each video is less than 15 minutes and feature animations, visualizations, demonstrations and a variety of other kinds of examples to help student viewers understand the concepts presented in the videos. You can be assured the quality and content presented are top notch as a result of their detailed concept approval method.

The Teaching and Learning Laboratory worked with faculty to develop the instructional practices featured in the video. The video series was initiated by the Singapore University of Technology and Design which collaborated with MIT to produce the video series.

The Teaching and Learning Laboratory (Lab) used the backward design process and developed the video with the end in mind. The Lab worked with course instructors from the foundational courses of the engineering curriculum. It identified selected learning outcomes and what was deemed as “pivotal concepts”, critical skills that supported the learning objectives and outcomes for each video.  The pivotal concepts that served as the foundation for the videos met two essential criteria: the concepts were multidisciplinary and could serve as prerequisites for several concepts that would be taught in upper level undergraduate engineering courses. If the concepts did not meet the criteria, the concepts were not made into a video.

Once the pivotal concept was determine, the Lab assigned a primary author responsible for reviewing the videos created. A design team consisting of the Lab primary author, in conjunction with practicing engineers, brainstormed and developed ideas to help students visualize the concepts presented in the video. Each video was thoroughly review and the narration recording and supporting visuals were heavily scrutinized for content and quality.

Professor John Lienhard shared, “The resulting videos are a concise overview of challenging material.” If you have a flipped classroom or teach the advanced concepts presented in the videos, these resources would be excellent to explain and demonstrate concepts to students can conceptualize the complexities of engineering curricula.


Cross posted at http://elearningindustry.com/new-mit-stem-video-series.

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2015 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators

Posted by kcaise on December 7, 2014 in blogging |

image001_pngI received an email recently announcing the details and return of the PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators program. More about the program is featured below:

The program recognizes the top 100 applicants nationwide who are using digital media in classrooms and serving as leaders in edtech. Beginning today through February 11, K-12 educators can apply for the program at pbslearningmedia.org/digitalinnovators.

In addition, the top thirty applicants will be designated as Lead PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators and will receive an all-expense paid trip to Philadelphia to participate in the 2015 PBS LearningMedia Digital Summit and this year’s ISTE conference. Lead PBS Digital Innovators will also receive a Samsung Galaxy(R) tablet.

For more information about the program, please see the press release at that link.

Hopefully everyone will take the opportunity to nominate themselves or someone else for this prestigious honor!

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CardKiwi Online Flashcards

Posted by kcaise on November 29, 2014 in curriculum, online learning, tech integration |

Just a note: CardKiwi is now WordKiwi – a website for an app that translates words into many languages. It is no longer a flash card service.


If you haven’t used any of the online flashcard sites, I highly recommend “CardKiwi“. It is super easy to use Cardkiwi to make a flashcard set and the service is free! You can add vocabulary words, words in English and another language or facts about a historical event. The uses are endless and Cardkiwi is a great way to study.

Once you play each set, you then mark the card with a thumbs up, thumb down and a thumb sideways indicating how well you know the content. Thumbs up is if the content is known well, thumbs down is if you don’t know it that well and you need to repeat that card and the thumb pointing sideways indicates you sort of know the material. Other flashcard quizzing sites have the thumbs up and thumbs down but not the one in the middle of the two.

Currently, you can only add text on the flashcards but you can share the set with others saving you time from making a similar set on the same content. You can also search for sets of flashcards created on a specific book using the ISBN number. This is great if you doing a novel study or want a flashcard set on a specific topic featured in the same textbook a student is using in class.


Teachers can create a set of flashcards and share the set with their students. For visual learners, this site is right in learn with their learning style.This way students have an accurate set of flashcards with information that the teachers deems important to learn. For visual learners, this site is right in learn with their learning style.

The site states that using this system helps retention of the content by 50%. The research and information about this strategy for learning is featured in the video below.

Below are images of the front and back of the flashcards:




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Formal and Information Assessment – Suggestions Needed!

Posted by kcaise on November 29, 2014 in curriculum |

hard working womanHow do you assess your students? Each of us does so formally and informally. I am finishing up my second book and writing a section on assessing student work and performance. Do you know of any innovative ways of assessing students or fantastic apps to do so?

I know there are apps like Zip Grade that will grade answer documents by taking a picture of the answer sheet, but I am looking more for assessing project based learning activities. I am open to all suggestions and will give credit to resources that I haven’t already included. I prefer only free tools although there are some fantastic ones that are not free.

If you think I should consider sharing the assessment resource please leave a comment below. Some of the ways I have already suggested are as follows:

  1. blog posts
  2. using VoiceThread
  3. Socrative
  4. Quizlet
  5. Evernote (turning in documents in individual folders – is this interesting or innovative – going paperless per se)
  6. Nearpod
  7. Google forms usage (like Flubaroo and book reviews)
  8. Teacher made quizzes and tests based on content presented (-i.e. – the old-fashioned way of doing things :)!)
  9. Microsoft Mouse (?? – not sure if that is the name for the PPT plug in or not)
  10. ????????? – need your help and suggestions please!!


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Connecting Classrooms through Global Projects – 2014 Global Education Conference

November 18th was my presentation for the Global Education Conference coordinated by Lucy Gray and Steve Hargadon. My slides and Livebinder are as follows.

Full Recording Link: https://sas.elluminate.com/site/external/jwsdetect/nativeplayback.jnlp?sid=2008350&psid=2014-11-18.1630.D.A29F0FE2DFA53A92C238077914DA54.vcr

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