How to Use Skype in the Classroom to Get Connected

When we think about ways to connect students globally and to think outside of traditional boundaries, I often think about the power of video conferencing. Microsoft has included a lot of opportunities for teachers to do just that with the education programs they have created for Skype in the Classroom. At its core, the program […]


Innovate your life as an educator 

Do nothing and slide into oblivion. Innovation is risky, and success is not guaranteed. Doing nothing guarantees failure. 
I saw that she cartoon on twitter a few months ago and I immediately knew that this explains a lot about what I think about leadership.

In school, you see a lot of safe plays. Safe PD, safe lessons, safe rules, safe grades, safe policies etc.

I agree that safety is paramount in the k-12 school system, but where does innovation enter the equation? It seems that there can always be someone there with a counter point for any project you undertake. Sometimes that is necessary on your way to.a compromise.

However safety and futuristic vision need to be weighed together and acted upon. In order to provide our students with activities and lessons that are valuable and provocative in order to keep our twitter-generation student attention spans.

I see a lot of great ideas on twitter. Most of the time I ask myself: “why can’t we do that?” Sometimes the answer is knowledge or resources, but other times it is the willingness to take risks. 

We instill in our students the need for a growth mindset.  The need for grit to persevere in the face of adversity. Then why are adults always erring in the side of safe decisions rather than risking failure to bring about real change? 

P.s The cartoon is from Check it out!

Quick and easy UDB

You Win UBD, you Win.

UBD is tried and true. It might get some flack from teachers but at the end of the day, if you are unsure of what you are teaching, or how you are teaching, nobody is going to call you crazy for focusing on UBD.

I still remember the day that I learned about UBD. It was a lecture class, It was late, I had worked all day and was taking a class from 6-10 once a week. Yikes. Then the Prof started talking about these things called UBD, I already thought she was nuts but, by this time I think I had confirmed it.

Honestly, I got through the class but I still dont think that I had a firm grip on the topic. I’ve been thinking about how there are some gaps in my Genius Hour and I think that part of my issue is that when problems come up, I just try to patch them with a new Stage 3 task, then a Stage 2 to get Stage 1…I’m doing UBD backwards! So, I’m going to dive back in and try to clean up this Genius Hour class.

If this is murky for you as well, here are the coveted Three Stages:

Stage 1  (Remember this is backwards Design):

What is your Essential Question or Enduring Understanding for your students when you are done? Look at Standards, content or do research to figure out what is important that they know. Write that down.

Stage 2

How can you assess what they have done? What will you use to determine if students are proficient in the content that is being delivered? Make those assessment(s)

Stage 3

Now create your activities. Using materials and instruction that helps your attain your Stage 1 goals using Stage 2 Assessments. Get your stuff together!

Some teachers do UDB in the brain automatically I’m sure. There is a tendency to go from 3-2-1 and I get how you can leave students behind in the gaps if you go that route. How do you plan your lessons? Always consulting Wiggins? Or do you martch to a different beat?

When you are a teacher looking for resources, you are a couponer by default

I’ve come to the realization as I get more comfortable with myself as a teacher that if I am going to get new stuff for my classroom, its up to me to try and do so. I’ve written a few grants, and scored a nice one last year. That really got me excited, since then I have been an “education couponer” basically, if there is a deal, grant, giveaway or contest I’m in! I recently threw a tweet into the abyss of a Best Buy contest for teachers. Can you imagine what happened next? I won! Below is my tweet and some info about the contest.

IMG_5192 (1) IMG_5194

It was just a tweet and before I knew it I am getting emails from Best Buy about sending our school new chromebooks! It’s a great feeling to see effort pay off and that large companies like Best Buy are doing contests like this for teachers. If any CEOs are reading this, Donating to schools is a huge public good! It truly has a positive effect on the schools that you donate to!

So, that is really my post. I got lucky, but keep an eye out on social media and network to get those resources! If I had not got a grant or won this contest, my students would be learning the ins and outs of powerpoint, instead of using Raspberry Pi to program games of their own design. I think one of those skills will propel kids into the future and it isnt the stupid paperclip: clippy!


I want your brain to hurt.

A student said a really nice thing to me the other day and he didnt even realize it. He said “Mr. Worth, my brain hurts leaving your class.” This made my day.

Not to mention the behaviors that we squashed at the beginning of the class, I had no idea the class with this student would end on such a positive note. I want my students to get the feeling when they leave  because that means learning is happening.

I remember in college leaving classes with a complete migrane becuase my mind had been opened in such a way that I knew I would never be the same. Learning has that power on us. I hope to have all my lessons to be in such a condition of rigor that students are always leaving my class with that feeling. So yes. When I think of if I have succeeded as a teacher, I want my students brains to hurt afterwards!

Summer Book Reads and short reviews.

I am so excited to be gearing up for this school year. I have been reading and thinking all summer about things I can do to make my classes more fun and increase the learning of my students. I have already had a few sleepless nights as I just couldn’t get thoughts out of my head from some great books that I have been reading. At a few points I had to get them on paper so I would not forget the next morning.

I would like to share where my head is at so far.


I started reading the book Invent to Learn and it has completely sold me on the ideas of Constructivist education. Most notably championed (or created) by Seymour Papert. The book is a great overview of tinkering with students and how by allowing them to play with objects and to try new things, they actually end up learning more and it becomes self directed learning. I rented this book from Amazon, but I will need to buy it, I have too many highlights that I will need it for a reference.

Pure Genius: this goes hand in hand with Invent to Learn. Pure genius is about giving students a dedicated time during the week for them to pursue their own projects that they set for themselves. At first I was worried about this idea because I know how much structure students seem to crave at times when introducing a new project. Through reading and a few good  ideas I think it really is possible to pull off! Another one I will have to buy as I am going ot introduce a Genius Hour this year and I really have just this book to go off from. Wish me luck on that one.

Drive: This book has a lot of hype and I did think that it was good to take a look at motivation. Teachers need to teach content, but if we do not motivate our students they will not care about our content. I think this is super important, or else we will sound like the Charlie Brown teacher to our kids! then they  will fail, which means we fail. I have not finished this one, but it reinforces the fact that students are dying to learn about topics that interest them, and when they are able to do so, they will do a lot better job and exceed our expectations!

what have YOU been reading?

2015-04-01 08_39_02-pi@raspberrypi_ ~

A little more SSH for your Raspberry Pi

So, Once you install your Operating System, you are ALMOST ready to test things out. Let’s go over what SSH can do one more time.

SSH stands for Secure SHell, which allows you to securely connect to other devices, in this case we want to set things up so that we can use a computer to connect to a Raspberry Pi. All that sounds technical, but on a Raspberry Pi it is very simple.

Turning on SSH

in the command line type sudo raspi-config then navigate to the menus below and enable SSH. Save and reboot. 

2015-03-27 13_32_56-pi@raspberrypi_ ~2015-04-01 08_39_02-pi@raspberrypi_ ~


When your Pi boots, open up the terminal and type in the command: ifconfig


look for what it says that your inet addr is. In the screen shot above, mine is Write that down!

Downloading PuTTY

Now you got what you need, go to your computer and download a tool called putty. It’s free and allows you to connect to your Pi through SSH. Link to PuTTY Download

enter your IP address into PuTTY and hit Open

2015-04-01 08_47_42-PuTTY Configuration


Enter your login which by default is: pi and the default password is: raspberry


Congratulations! You have just connected to your Raspberry Pi from another computer!

Why is this important?

Well, think of the versatility of the Raspberry Pi, it is small and lightweight which allows you to take it out of the normal computer lab environment and move it into the world as an Internet of Things device(more on what that is later).  So, for example, our school was having issues with a mounted TV in our lobby, we couldn’t send information to it anymore, it was only working with a 10 year old MAC computer. The Raspberry Pi to the rescue! I added a software names Screenly to a Pi and connected it to the TV, I was able to plug it into a network jack and now, from my computer, i can manage that Raspberry Pi and send images and information to that TV in our lobby from any computer in the building. Otherwise, I would need to connect a keyboard and mouse to the Pi in our lobby to control it. Forget that! Pics are below of our lobby Pi, I will create a guide about it in the coming days.






Raspberry Pi2? Yes Please!


New Raspberry Pi 2 Kit!

Well, it has been a crazy month since my last update, but I would like to start by introducing the new Raspberry Pi 2! Since my last post I have bought 11 Raspberry Pi 2’s and am very excited about the future of this project! What is the Pi2? The Pi2 is 6x faster than the B+!! whoooaaaa! It also weighs in at the exact same price as the older B+ so, it will work perfectly with my budget!


I did some digging and found another kit on Amazon for the Pi2. It is a GREAT value. Initially I thought that it would be a good idea to buy the parts individually instead of a kit like this…. I did the math for each component and shopped around…I really do not think that a better deal can be had. Let me know if there is. Here is the kit and the breakdown.

CanaKit Raspberry Pi 2 (1GB) Ultimate Starter Kit (Over 40 Components: New Raspberry Pi 2 + WiFi Dongle + 8GB SD Card + Case + Power Supply

  • Includes New Raspberry Pi 2 (RPi2) Quad-Core 900 MHz 1GB RAM, CanaKit WiFi Adapter
  • Premium Quality 6-foot HDMI Cable, CanaKit GPIO to Breadboard Interface Board, Ribbon Cable, Breadboard, Jumper Wires, GPIO Quick Reference Card, Resistor Colors Quick Reference Card
  • 8 GB Samsung MicroSD Card – Raspberry Pi Foundation Recommended MicroSD Card pre-loaded with NOOBS, High Quality Raspberry Pi 2 Case, Heat Sink
  • RGB LED, 8 x LEDs (Blue/Red/Yellow/Green), 15 x Resistors, 2 x Push Button Switches, CanaKit General Guide for Beginners to Electronic Components
  • CanaKit 2.5A USB Power Supply with 5-foot Micro USB Cable specially designed for the Raspberry Pi 2 (UL Listed)



That are a lot of components for a really good price of $85. Now, Remember that I am going to use this for the educational setting, so it also helps by coming in a compact box that can be easily stored for the next class. The electrical components are basic LED’s and a few push buttons, but it will be sufficient for teaching how GPIO works and making some fun projects. I think that is as far as I will get with GPIO and electrical for the remainder of this year at least.


So, if you are looking to get into the Raspberry Pi arena, I would highly suggest one of these kits. They are a great value and you do not need to buy the ultimate kit in order to get going. Buy it, open it up and get tinkering!







Create a Digital Assessment

Have you ever wondered if there is a way to create an assessment that will fit exactly what you have been teaching your students? Well, you are in luck!

With our Google Drive accounts we have the ability to create a form, that allows you to make your own questions and record student responses in a nice, neat spreadsheet.



I made a few forms to relate to most subject areas. Click the assessment first, then click to see your responses.


Assessment Responses
Social Studies Rome Quiz Social Studies Responses
Math Google Form Math Responses
Foreign Language Google Form Foreign Language Responses
Science Google Form Science Responses
Reading Log Google Form Reading Log Responses



  • You will save time Grading.
  • Integrate Technology into your lessons (STEM).
  • No Paper!
  • Instant Feedback for you and your students!
  • Easy to Re-Use in the future.
  • Create meaningful homework on knowledge of a topic.
  • Multiple forms of questioning.
  • Can help “Flip” Your classroom



How do you use it?


  • Login to Google Drive(
  • Click Create> Form (pic right)                                                                            
  • Form will open (below)


Customizing your Form


  1. Name your Assessment ( students will see this as the name of the assignment. so make it specific!)
  2. Check the appropriate Form Settings. The first two checkboxes make sure that you make the students log into google and record their name when then use their form (no more no-name papers! Actually, with their email addresses you can email them, their grades)
  3. Shuffle Question order: Re-orders questions for all students (perfect for multiple choice questions).


Adding Questions


When you create your form, your first question will be created as well. You can edit the question as follows:


  • For Question Title you can type in the question you wish to ask.
  • For Help Text you can add additional directions or clarification for the question.
  • For Question Type you can choose between nine different types of questions (explained later).
  • If the question type needs a list of answers (such as multiple choice or checkboxes) then you can fill in the available answers.
  • To force the user to answer the question, check the Required question box (so students are unable to skip past any questions).
  • Click Done when finished.
  • Click Duplicate to make a similar question.
  • Or Add item(left) to add a new question type.
  • Can add images or videos for students to watch pre- or post assessment



Where do responses go?


Responses go into a spreadsheet that was created alongside your Form.

Change Theme: Allows you to customize how it looks

View Responses: Shows you a spreadsheet will all student responses for quick access.

View Live Form: Allows you to see the assessment the way your students would



Sending out your form to students


There are a few ways you can send out your form.


  • Click on Send Form
  • Copy Link and post it to website or classroom- or add  student email addresses (see me about making quick class lists for this option)




This guide is a very basic start to Google Forms. Other things you can do:

  • Send students to certain questions based on their answers ( if a students gets a question wrong, have them view related material)
  • Automatically Grade assignments with Flubaroo
  • Send each student a report of how they did with feedback
  • Insert media (pictures and video) into questions.


For a great resource about Google Forms, check out: this guide or come and ask me what I am talking about and I would love to help get you started.


Radio Show Podcasts

My thoughts on a radio show have changed. While the way I came up with will work. It is incredibly tedious. The better option and the one that I will use next time is to have them all write and print out their approved scripts. Then set up a few different computers for a podcasting station. There, they can use audacity to record and create the podcast.

iPads are great, and if I wanted to make individual recordings, this is a create solution, but I see over 350 kids a week, and this is just too much for me to pull off (and to want to do it again.) So, my quest continues to incorporate the iPads into the classroom in a daily way.

If you have ideas of how to incorporate two iPads in a class of 20+ kids. Let me know!