Month: December 2014

The 1% New Year’s Resolution

by Kristie Burk

As 2014 winds down, most people start thinking about New Year’s resolutions.  You may have a resolution about your health, your finances, or your relationships.  Maybe you even have a resolution for some career goals or improvements for your classroom?

Whatever your goals are, take a few minutes to read this article by James Clear called “This Coach Improved Every Tiny Thing by 1 Percent and Here’s What Happened.”  In it, Clear explains how “the 1 percent margin for improvement in everything you do” can make big differences in aggregate.

“It’s so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making better decisions on a daily basis.

Almost every habit that you have — good or bad — is the result of many small decisions over time.

And yet, how easily we forget this when we want to make a change.” – James Clear

Hopefully, this article will inspire you for 2015.

Have a restful holiday break, everyone!


Educational Technology Trends for 2015

by Kristie Burk

2015 is right around the corner. Here is what I predict as the top educational technology trends for the upcoming year:

1. Data/Learning Analytics – We cannot escape it.  Big data is here to stay and teachers will be expected to become more expert at using data to drive their lessons, to assess students and to improve their teaching.  If you want to become more of a data expert in 2015, start with this article called “Averages Don’t Matter…and Other Common Mistakes in Data Analysis.”

2. Flipped Classrooms – The flipped classroom is a pedagogical model in which the typical classroom and homework elements are reversed. Short instructional videos can be viewed by students at home while classroom time is devoted to exercises, practice, projects or discussions. Here is an excellent resource guide to the flipped classroom and a previous article on how the Ohio State Football program is using a flipped model.

3. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) vs 1:1 –  Should students be expected to bring their own devices to school or should schools provide a device for every student? I expect this debate to continue well into 2015.

4. Blended Learning – In our high schools, blended classes allow students to spend some time face-to-face with their teachers and to spend some time online. The Downingtown Area School District is way ahead of other area districts and will be offering over 100 blended courses in 2015-16. Want to learn more? Here are some resources on blended learning that I’ve curated.

5.  Personalized learning  – In 2015, more students will have access to material and activities that are customized for their level of knowledge and for their learning styles.  I see this trend expanding across the country as more educators think about ways to meet students where they are. Here is a great blog piece by Ben Mountz on how he personalizes learning for science students at DHSE.

6. Coding – With the “Hour of Code” and other similar events occurring just a few weeks ago, schools will become even more interested in teaching students about programming. In 2015, I expect to hear more conversations about making technology a core subject.

7. Gamification – 28 million people harvest their crops on FarmVille every day while 1.5 million students fail to graduate high school every year. Perhaps we can reach these students through gamification, presenting educational content in game format. Here’s a great infographic that explains more.

8. Online Collaboration – In 2015, I predict that more and more of our students (and teachers) will be using Google Apps for Education to collaborate with each other in ways that they haven’t previously.

9.  Schoology – In 2015, more teachers in DASD will be using Schoology, our learning management system, where students can submit their assignments, communicate with their teachers, discuss class topics, and take online assessments.  They can even integrate Schoology’s calendar with their own online calendars. Another benefit to Schoology is that parents can be partners in this process with their own access codes.

What do you think about these trends? Let us know at!

Food for Thought Friday: Reverse Mentors

by Kristie Burk

Have you ever heard of a “reverse” mentor?

Because of the disparity between the technical skills of different generations in the workplace, some companies have started a reverse mentoring program, pairing younger employees with older ones to help them become more “social-media” savvy. Sue Shellenbarger wrote an interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal  on this trend.

The article follows 50-year old Robert Garrow, MasterCard’s Chief Human-Resources Officer, who was paired with Rebecca Kaufman, a 24-year-old community manager.  “Five months into their work together,”  Shellenbarger writes, “Mr. Garrow has 2,352 LinkedIn contacts, checks Twitter 8 to 10 times a day, follows 109 handles and tweets about 50 times a month.” You can read the entire article here.

The article got me thinking about the idea of reverse mentoring and how it could work in our schools. What if we paired the more tech-saavy educators with some less skilled ones as mentors, regardless of age? Or even better, what if we let our students help the teachers improve their technology skills?

Some food for thought this Friday.  Think about it and let us know what you think on our blog at!

Getting To Know the Digital Natives

by Kristie Burk

One day I was in the Giant Food Store getting ready to check out my groceries. A middle-aged cashier was transitioning her register to a teenager taking over for the next shift.

“Do you have these numbers memorized?” the older woman said, showing the young girl a piece of paper with the SKUs for various items, such as avocados and cucumbers.

“No,” the girl replied.

“No problem,” said the woman. “This one is mine, but grab a pen and you can write it down.”

“Oh, that’s okay,” said the girl as she reached into her back pocket for her mobile phone. “I’ll just take a picture of your list.”

And that, my friends, is the difference between us and them. It was really unfathomable to the teenage girl to write down an entire list when taking picture was so much quicker; she is probably also less likely to lose the list the next time she needs it.

I was struck in the grocery store that day about how different the world is for our students and how important it is to connect school and learning to their everyday lives. (Hence, the ivy vine as a symbol for our blended learning program.)

Our students, sometimes referred to as “digital natives,” are different than we are. Shall we make a list?

Today’s students

  • don’t rely on pen and paper!
  • collaborate. A lot.
  • learn via participation.
  • are used to instantaneous information.
  • perceive information to be malleable.
  • are accustomed to sharing knowledge.
  • document every aspect of their lives.
  • don’t send mail or even email.
  • text instead of call.
  • customize and personalize everything.
  • prefer graphics over text.
  • mix work, school, and play.
  • have no expectations for privacy online.
  • do not think of technology as a “tool.”

Digital natives may be comfortable with technology, but they still need us! Why? Because today’s students don’t necessarily use critical thinking skills to disseminate the information they find online. They need to learn how to conduct fruitful searches, how to evaluate sources, and how to avoid plagiarism. They need to understand how to protect their reputations and their privacy. They need to learn how to use technology respectfully and how to follow copyright laws. In other words, they still need us, the digital immigrants.

Do you have any comments? Post them at

Website Wednesday: Math Teachers Recommend Twiddla

by Kristie Burk

twiddlaI am very excited to be working on Schoology with some of the high school math teachers today as they start to prepare their curriculum for a blended classroom model for the Downingtown Ivy Academy. It is only fitting, then, that today’s website recommendation came from these math teachers during a recent online discussion.

The website is called Twiddla and it allows students and teachers the opportunity to share a real-time whiteboard.  You can even use audio. You don’t need an account to use Twiddla and neither do the people that you invite to your “meetings.”

“I have been using Twiddla when helping my cousin in NY with Algebra problems.  It’s a great way to go through problems with a person who is not next to you.  It allows all parties involved to “write” on the whiteboard (the iPad works best – you can use your finger or a stylus).  Twiddla provides you a link so you can have guests working on the whiteboard at the same time.” – Sean Farrell, DHSE Math Teacher

Another similar website is called Stoodle, which also works very nicely on both an iPad and desktop browsers.

There are many uses for an interactive, digital whiteboards in the classroom.  Teachers can use them to collaborate, review, illustrate or share ideas with their students who may (or more likely may not) be in front of them.  Students can also use whiteboard websites to work on group projects, to review homework assignments with a peer or tutor, or to work on problems with teachers.

“I have used Twiddla as well with a friend that lives across the country and took a stat course to finish up a degree.  We had tried to use emails, and with some of the notations it took more and more time to sit down and type out an email.  The interactive component [in Twiddla] when multiple people can work together was very helpful – I could go through and pick out the spots were mistakes were made.  Twiddla is very useful during “office hours” time when students are not in the classroom – they will still be able to reach out to get help.” – Jamie Krusinsky, DHSW Math Teacher

 If you’re using online whiteboards in your classroom, let us know at!

Tech Tip Tuesday: Chop Youtube Videos

by Kristie Burk

This technology tool is one of the simpler ones out on the web, but I find it to be invaluable.  It’s called TubeChop and its purpose is to allow people to take a cut of a YouTube video.  How many times have you wanted to show someone just a small piece of a YouTube video or, worse yet, you needed to cut out an inappropriate part?  You can do this by editing the embed code, but TubeChop makes it easier.

To use TubeChop, you need to enter the url of the video you wish to edit. The video will appear in a window; you can either click on the timeline or type in the start and end times that you want. You can also add in additional comments. Click on the “chop it” button and you’re done! TubeChop will give you both a link and embed code.

Here’s a TubeChop of the Ivy Academy video on Youtube.

This Is The Last Week to Get a Discount on the iPad Course!

by Jonathan Blow

Integrating iPad Technology into the Classroom will be held January 26 – February 6 on Mon, Tues,  and Thurs from 4:15-7:45 at the STEM Academy.*

Just a reminder that this is the last week to get a discount on the University of Arts courses starting in January. Each class will cost $803 for 3 credits. The classes have been pre-approved and they’re eligible for reimbursement.

Downingtown has put a major focus on integrating iPads into the classrooms.   Marsh Creek is 1:1 iPads, Middle Schools will soon be 1:1, and the elementary schools will see more iPads in the classroom in the future.   In order to properly utilize this tool, teachers need to know how to use and integrate the iPads.   This course is an iPad Basics course.

The introduction of the iPad brought the power and functionality of a full-size computer system into a lightweight, user-intuitive, mobile tablet and educators have since rapidly embraced it to meet computing needs and fill specific niche roles.

Discover how technology can increase engagement, allow access to vast content and provide the ability to create media to share stories with visuals and sound, and signal what lies ahead for students. Bring technology into integrated use throughout the curriculum by using tablet devices and their applications to explore the development of lessons applicable to a range of subject areas through cross-curricular sound and video projects. Consider how the iPad can be an integrated professional tool for classroom management and for creating and sharing content.

This class will cover:

  • Overview of iPad
  • Settings and Setup
  • Creating iTunes Accounts with/without credit card
  • Using two iTunes Accounts on a single iPad
  • Enabling and Using AirPlay
  • Downloading Apps
  • Setting up email accounts
  • Accessibility and other features

In order to get the DASD discount, call the University of Arts at 215-717-6006 to enroll.  The discount will be available until Wednesday.

 *An iPad is required for this course