Month: February 2015

Food for Thought Friday: Which Colleagues Should be Your Mentors?

by Kristie Burk

In a recent article from Fast Company on the “The Five Types Of Mentors You Need,” Art Markman writes about the importance of having a group of five different kinds of people, not just one person, surrounding you to help you succeed.  Keep in mind that you don’t have to be a rookie to need a mentor — and your mentor doesn’t always have to be older than you.

Markman’s list of people that you need as your mentors includes:

  1. The Coach
  2. The Star
  3. The Connector
  4. The Librarian
  5. The Teammate

“[Librarians] are aware of all kinds of hidden resources. Hang out with these people so that you don’t end up reinventing the wheel when you are working on a project.” – Markman

Is there someone specific in the district who has been a good mentor to you?  Write me about him or her in a few brief sentences at and I’ll publish the results in a future article!


How Teachers Can Use Pinterest for St. Patrick’s Day

by Kristie Burk

I use a lot of social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.  However, my favorite application to use, believe it or not, is Pinterest.

If you’re a visual learner like me, then you may also like Pinterest because users can create and share “visual bookmarks,” images that link to a page or website.  You can organize the images onto boards that you create.

There are many uses for Pinterest in education, including:

  • ideas for designing/planning your classroom space
  • student activities and lesson plans
  • images for projects
  • places for students to collaborate

Pinterest becomes most useful when you follow other people that have something to share.  For example, Stephen Spangler, the famous science teacher from The Ellen DeGeneres Show, has a great Pinterest board for St. Patrick’s Day.

Interested in learning more but don’t know how to get started? Check out this useful “Teacher’s Guide to Pinterest.”



Website Wednesday: CK-12 Free Textbooks for Middle and High School Students

ck12-logo-300dpiby Kristie Burk

Last week, I shared a link to OpenStax, a site that offers free college level textbooks.  Several of you wrote back saying that it was an interesting idea, but the text was too challenging for middle or high school students.

If so, you should check out today’s site from the CK-12 Foundation. The website includes free textbooks in STEM subjects with video and audio built in that allow students to interact with the material.  They even have physics simulation modules and PLIX (play, learn, interact, explore) that allows students to “explore [STEM] concepts often used in real world examples.”

Check it out and let us know what you think!

Tech Tip Tuesday: Install Youtube and Vimeo Apps in Schoology

youtubeby Kristie Burk

On February 2, Schoology announced a number of new apps that make the learning management software even easier to use.  Today, I’m going to show you how to install the Youtube and Vimeo apps in Schoology.

Why would you want to do this?

Youtube/Vimeo apps in Schoology allow you to:

1.  search for videos right in Schoology without having to go to a separate site.

2.  import the videos directly into Schoology without having to copy and paste the URL or embed code.

3. automatically embed the videos so that students do not leave Schoology when watching them.

I’ve made a brief (4:00) video on how to do this:



Food for Thought Friday: Evaluating Your Impact

by Kristie Burk

Earlier this week, Dr. Reed sent out an article to the administrative team from Educational Leadership on “High Impact Leadership.” The author, John Hattie from the University of Melbourne, Australia, looks at “high impact instructional leadership.”   Most notably, he learned from his meta-analyses that the following leadership traits produce very strong results:

  • Believing in evaluating one’s impact as a leader: effect size .91
  • Getting colleagues focused on evaluating their impact: .91

How often do we take the time to evaluate our impact as leaders in the school community (we’re all leaders in some way) and do we seek out feedback from others?  On this Food for Thought Friday, think about these words from Hattie:

“The high impact leader creates a school climate in which everybody learns, learning is shared, and critique isn’t just tolerated…but welcomed.”

How about I start!?  If you have any feedback for this blog, let us know at  Have a great weekend!

Understanding Project-Based Learning

by Kristie Burk

As most of you know, the new Marsh Creek Sixth Grade Center has decided to focus on project-based learning (PBL) for its students.  For anyone unfamiliar with the concept, Heather Wolpert-Gawron has written a great article called, “What the Heck Is Project-Based Learning?”  Honestly, it’s one of the best explanations of PBL that I’ve read in a while. You should take a peek.

Wolpert-Gawron is the author of an upcoming book called DIY Project-Based Learning for ELA and History due out in June and a similar book for math and science coming in the Fall.