5-8, 6-12, Education, Social Studies, Teaching Tools, Websites


Population.io is a site that shows some interesting statistics about the world’s population in relation to the user.  According to the site authors, “Our hope is that people from all walks of life, in all ages and across all countries will explore a new perspective of their own life and find their own place in the world of today and tomorrow.”

Once you input your birth date, country, and gender, you can learn what percentage of the world is younger than you (far too many, in my case), milestones in your life (such as that I was the 5 billionth person to be alive on April 5, 2012), the number of people who share your birthday, and various other facts that can make you feel very old and very small.


This seems like it could be a useful site to make your students more aware of how many humans actually share this not-so-large planet. It’s interesting to see how your life expectancy might change depending on where you live (so far, it looks like I probably should make a move to Spain in the near future), and could bring up deep conversations about the reasons for dramatic differences.

I have to admit that I was a bit disturbed by this offer at the bottom of the page:

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 9.38.44 PM

I’m not really sure I want my iPhone (or its future equivalent) ringing an alarm to alert me of my imminent doom.  But maybe it would be nice to be somewhat prepared…

Apps, Education, Gamification, K-12, Motivation, Teaching Tools, Web 2.0

Trends in Education for the 2013-2014 School Year

Augmented Reality in Education Flipboard Magazine
Augmented Reality in Education Flipboard Magazine

I know it’s an odd hobby, but I spend a lot of time reading blogs, tweets, Flipboard magazines, etc… about education.  During the summer months, I’ve noticed some common themes in articles, and I thought I would share them with you here, along with a few resources for each.  These are all topics I think you will be hearing a lot more about during the next 12 months.

  • Genius Hour – You might see it called 20% Time or Passion Time, or something else, but the concept is basically to give time to your students to pursue topics that interest them.  You can read about my own plans for this in the upcoming year here.  I also have an entire page dedicated to Genius Hour Resources.  Also, check out the Genius Hour Wiki and Joy Kirr’s Live Binder with many other resources.
  • Online Learning – MOOCS (Massive Online Open Courses) are being discussed all over the web.   While I disapprove of educating the masses in this way, I did see a powerful example of the benefits of online learning this summer when our district piloted a program for the elementary gifted students in which they could sign up for one online course to take (for free) over the summer.  The students got to take classes in subjects that interested them with teachers who were passionate about the topics.  They met students from all over the district through the courses, and pursued their own interests.  I think it’s important to maintain the personal aspect in online courses and to never forget that it is the connection that is created between teachers and students that has the potential to make the most impact.  Human to human interaction is essential.  Using tools like Edmodo and Moodle can make this possible.
  • Gamification – I posted about this earlier this summer after watching Jane McGonigal’s keynote at ISTE 2013.  I plan to use the ideas of challenges, quests, and leveling up in my class this year.  One example of this would be the Genius Hour Challenge Cards that I created.  I also like to use Class Dojo to help me with this.  Edmodo offers badges that are great to award to kids, and allows you to add your own.  Class Badges is another site that you might want to utilize.  Here is a great article on gamification for newbies, “Education Levels Up!”
  • Online Portfolios – The most prevalent example of this at the moment seems to be blogs.  Students as well as teachers are blogging and “publishing” class work examples.  Some other ways that this can be done are through Educlipper and Edcanvas (both have partnerships with Edmodo, too).  I saw great examples of Edcanvas being used by a teacher during her online photography course this summer.  Another option, though not nearly as robust as those two, is the Artkive app.

So, those are, in my estimation, the hot topics in Education right now – the ones you can harness to “Engage Their Minds.” Some other up and coming trends: innovative classroom design, maker studios (including 3d printers), and giving teachers million dollar bonuses for every five years they teach.

Okay, maybe not the last one.  Just checking to see if you made it to the end of this article 😉