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In my last post I mentioned the thousands of video clips that a teacher might find helpful as they prepare lessons. Yesterday I discovered a link that sounded promising,

When I followed the link, I saw that You Tube had a whole new”site” devoted to education. Most of the videos I glanced at seemed to focus on lectures and so I googled the new site and learned that it has been launched just two days ago.  I have pasted information below from Digital Education that will give you more information:

Following similar league, a new mode of learning has emerged, all thanks to YouTube. They don’t offer degrees but then they don’t charge tuition either. Colleges and universities across the United States are offering free courses online on virtually every subject imaginable, including videotaped lectures by some of their most distinguished professors.

Video-sharing site YouTube recently created a hub called YouTube EDU at for the more than 100 US colleges and universities offering free online learning. Among the thousands of videos on YouTube EDU are the celebrated classroom theatrics of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) physics professor Walter Lewin, whose clips have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times.

Other leading institutions of higher education posting videos to YouTube include the University of California at Berkeley, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford and Yale.
Interested in dentistry? Then the YouTube channel of the University of Michigan School of Dentistry may be the place for you, serving up a total of 426 videos. The courses offered on YouTube EDU are free and not for credit but the number of schools offering online classes which count towards a degree is booming.

As I “dug” a little deeper, I discovered that by searching for our CTE Program Areas, i.e. Ag, Marketing, Business,Health Science (Medicine), etc. I could find lectures that contained  video clips specific to topics, charts and diagrams that could be very useful. Happy Hunting!


It’s Important to Smile As You Read!

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Last evening I was at the library hoping to find that great book that would make me smile as I read.  I picked out one, Precious Creatures and two audio-books, from the Yada, Yada Prayer Group series. I was almost out the door when another book, from my past, caught my eye – Chicken Soup for the Teacher’s Soul. I had read this book cover to cover three times and had always smiled all the way through it. 

After dinner I began to skim the book and smiled as I read the quotes at the beginning of each story.  I would like to share some of these with you in hopes that you too will smile and grow from them.

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. William Arthur Ward – This is found in the Chapter 6, Answering the Call, before the story, “Full Circle.”

I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a person’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a person humanized or de-humanized. Haim Ginott – This found in Chapter 1, A Day in the Life, before the story, “The Girl in the Fifth Row.”


Inside every great teacher is an even greater one waiting to come out. Source Unknown – This is found in Chapter 8, Beyond the Classroom, before the story, “Excellence in Love in Action.”

Try not to have a good time……This is education! Charles Schulz – This is found in Chapter 11, Thanks, before the story, “A Typical Day”. A summary of this two page story follows:


Read the rest…

What Video Games Can Teach Us About Teaching

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Once again I have been caught by an article that was featured on the Mindsteps Inc. website, 

Robyn R. Jackson wondered

  • Why teachers can’t seem to make learning in school as addictive as video games?
  • Why is it that students are willing to engage in complex and difficult tasks in a gaming environment but resist doing it in a classroom?
  • Why is failure motivating in a video game but devastating on a test?
  • Why is it that learning is fun during a game but boring in class?
  • What is the secret?

She continues with the five things we, as teachers, should learn from video games:

  • Video games integrate a variety of skills.  Her discussion ends by stating the following:

“If we want lessons that are more compelling, we have to stop focusing on merely teaching discrete skills and give students an opportunity to integrate and synthesize what they learn.”

  • Video games allow students to solve challenging and complex problems immediately. Her discussion ends by stating the following:

“Students might become more actively involved, more invested in their own learning, and develop better problem-solving skills that were transferable to other situations if they were allowed to develop and test their own hypotheses as they learned.”

  • Video Games allow customization. Her discussion ends by stating the following:

“We have to structure the learning environment so that they can customize it to meet their own needs.”

  • Video games do an excellent job at scaffolding.  Her discussion ends by stating the following:

“At each level, players learn how to solve problems until they can do so routinely and automatically. As players get better at one level, they proceed to a new level with a new set of challenges that require them to integrate their old skills with new ones to reach a new and deeper level of mastery.  This cycle of repetition and new challenge helps players develop expertise rather quickly.  In school, the opposite often happens where struggling students have to languish at lower levels until they demonstrate competence.  School would be much more engaging for struggling students if they received the supports they needed during the learning process, in real time so that they could keep up with what was happening in the classroom and progress to the next level of learning.” 

I am really working on figuring out exactly what she means here.  In a game, players can play the game before they are good at it.  They don’t have to wait and practice before they can begin playing. They often learn the game while they are playing it.  If they get stuck, they can check the help screen or ask more experienced players.  I’m thinking this is what is meant here.  Too often, we. as teachers expect the students to wait “to play the game until they have practiced all the skills necessary.

  • Video games make failure motivating.  Her discussion ends by stating the following: 

“Failure is an integral part of the learning process and everyone expects to fail several times before they succeed.  Each time you fail in a video game, you get immediate feedback that shows you how to learn from your failure and do things better the next round. Failure becomes just another event in the learning process rather than an evaluation of your learning process.  In school however, failure is not a part of a learning process; it is a signal that the learning process has gone wrong somehow.  Students don’t routinely get the opportunity to learn from their failures and try again in school.  While they often get feedback that tells them that they have failed, they don’t get immediate feedback from their failure that shows them how to do better next time.  In school, failure is not a natural part of the learning process; it is something to be avoided at all costs. Thus video games encourage risk taking in ways that school does not.”

As usual Robyn provided a TIP SHEET for teachers to use as they think about incorporating this material into their classrooms.


Blogging Should be an Online Conversation

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I love it when Blogs become a “conversation” between people with common interests. I am hoping that each of you will take the time to add your thoughts to our CTE Blogs this year.  In my mind this is how we grow and learn and, after all, isn’t that our goal with the Blogs?

For Example:   Today I read a newsletter that was e-mailed to me from Robyn R. Jackson at Mindsteps, Inc.  I had been fortunate enough to hear her speak last spring and had subscribed to her newsletter.  I was so impressed with her Fable of the Cow and the Mule that I decided to use it in my blog.  Before I started writing the blog, I e-mailed the link to several others.  Then I began to write.  As I wrote, I saw that I had an IM from Tara that said the following:

Tara Bell (7/28/2009 9:53:27 AM): Thank you for sending me that article. I actually did a blog on it.

(Oh, to be young again and to move so quickly.) I would encourage you to go to Tara’s Blog   and read her article.  The full fable is there along with the link to the TIP SHEET.  I feel certain that you will benefit from this information. Tara’s Blog has the links to Robyn’s website and will give you information on how to receive her newsletter.

Please use the following link  to reach more of Robyn’s Tip Sheets.  I remember sharing a few of them with you last year.  I hope you find them helpful.

Why Am I Just Learning This Now?

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Those of you who know me know that I am not a person who likes to be in the middle of controversy.  In fact, I tend to move to the outside of a circle and just listen and think while discussions are being lead by those who feel strongly about the subject.  A couple of weeks ago at the Instructional Leadership Conference, I heard one of the keynotes, Dr. Ruby Payne speak.  She began her presentation by letting us know that her thoughts were the subject of many controversies. I heard her say, “Just Google me and you will understand what I am talking about.”  Usually that would be a turn-off for me and I would move to the other outstanding speakers – Todd Whittaker, Marcia Tate, etc. – for the rest of the day. However, since she was the keynote, I was obligated to stay for the rest of that presentation.

By the end of the keynote, she had “hooked” me.  I had to see where she was going with her thoughts. And so the 2nd session was spent with Dr. Payne. As the second session began, I came to realize that a great majority of those in the keynote had returned also. I heard them saying what I was thinking, “Why, in my 27+ years of teaching had I never been presented these thoughts?” I could pick out students in my past who would have benefited from my having this knowledge.  I felt strongly this was the key to reaching many of the students I have involved with today.  I spent the rest of the day with Dr. Ruby Payne and came back to Weber School District planning to share with others what I was feeling.

When I was back in the district, the first thing I did was to Google Dr. Payne and read the other side of the story.  What I read made sense in light of her critics view points.  But, what I felt in what I had heard made real educational sense to me.  I felt she offered tools to help me work with students whose point of view regarding life and education might be different than mine. I had understood from her that “Poverty” was not just financial but actually came wrapped in nine different packages. I did not spend time focusing on the “literal” meaning of her work but focused on the “educational tools” she was presenting for my use. 

For those reasons, I encourage you to look at some of Dr. Ruby Payne’s work, Understanding Poverty and Under-Resourced Learners. Her website is

I have taken a few of her concepts and am using them at Two Rivers as I visit with teachers.  Call (801-476-3906) or e-mail ( if you would like to know more.

The Poetry of Annette Breaux

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I feel very fortunate to be able to attend the Instructional Leadership in the 21st Century Conference being held in SLC this week.  Needless to say, I left after the first day with 11 new books to read.  One book, The Poetry of Annette Breaux, contains 25 tips and poems for teachers.  Below is Tip 14 and the associated poem.

Which Way?

                                           I stood at a fork in the road
                                           And didn’t know which way to go
                                           But since I had no destination in mind
                                           If I got there, I’d never know!

TIP 14

Plan each lesson with the end result in mind. As teachers, we often get caught up in a “topic” or “theme” when teaching something. We cover a lot of territory, yet the students are not clear on exactly what it is they’re supposed to be learning.  That’s because we’re not always clear, every day, on exactly what it is we want the students to know or be able to do at the end of each day’s lesson. Be sure to have a focus for each lesson and let the students know, at the beginning of each lesson, what they’ll be able to do by the end of the lesson.  be very clear and very specific with your lesson objectives.

Know where you’re going and know what you want the students to be able to do, then you’re all so much more likely to reach your destination.

                                                                                         pp. 28-29
                                                                                         The Poetry of Annette Breaux
                                                                                         by Annette Breaux