Category Archives: Video

21 Things Every 21st Century Teacher Should Do This Year

The Past mixing with the Future #selfie

The Past mixing with the Future #selfie

A new school year always brings about new ideas and hopeful ambition for teachers. However, it’s almost 2015.  Gone are the days when we can use the excuse that “we don’t do technology”.  Part of being a teacher in the 21st century is being creative in integrating academics and learning into student’s digital lives. With access to content being ubiquitous and instant in student’s out of school lives, we can either reject their world for our more traditional one, or embrace it.

While some of the ideas that follow may seem a bit trendy, it’s never hurts to model ways to interact with all this new media as a covert way of teaching digital literacy and citizenship.   The great news is, you don’t need every student to have a device to make these happen. Heck, in most cases all you would need is a single smart phone.  All you need is an open mind and some student-led creative thinking.

And so, I present the 21 things every 21st century teacher should try in their classroom this year:

1. Post a question of the week on your class blog

One of the best ways to engage student (and family) interaction with your classroom is to have a class blog.  While these are becoming more common, I like the trend of having a weekly student “guest author” write up the ideas and learning objectives discussed in class.  This is also a good place to discuss appropriate commenting behavior on blogs and websites.

2. Have a class twitter account to post a tweet about the day’s learning

Just like a blog only smaller.  Nominate a “guest tweeter” and have them summarize the day’s learning in 140 characters or less. Then ask parents to follow the account so they can also get a little insight into the happenings of the school day.

3. Make a parody of a hit song

The ultimate form of flattery is imitation.  The ultimate form of stardom is when Weird Al makes a parody of your song.  Why not take that to an creative level and have students re-write lyrics to their favorite hit or a popular tune?  Sure, this might take more time than it’s worth academically, but the collaborative sharing and engaging aspect of producing such a thing can be a positive.  Who knows, maybe someone in history class will remake “Chaka Khan” into “Genghis Khan” or something like this classic:

4. Create an infographic as a review

Those clever little graphics are appearing everywhere from Popular Mechanics to Cosmopolitan. Why not make one as a way to help visual learners review and remember information?

5. Go paperless for a week

Depending on your grade level, this might be harder than you think. Even in a 1:1 district we still print or have need to print things from time to time.  The idea behind this challenge is see if you can figure out ways to make things more digital.  Maybe instead of a newsletter you print and send home, you write a blog or send a MailChimp?  Or instead of asking kids to write and peer-edit each other’s papers, you ask them to share a Google doc?   If your students don’t have devices, then challenge yourself to try this personally for a month.

6. Have a “No Tech Day” just for nostalgia’s sake

And then have your students blog about the experience.

7. Create your own class hashtag

Tell your students and their parents about the hashtag and have them post ideas, photos, and questions to it.  It’s a great way to get people from not only in your class but also around the world to contribute to your class conversation. You can also use this with your blog posts (#1) or classroom tweets (#2). Bonus points if you use something like VisibleTweets to display your posts in your class.

8. Create a list to encourage democracy in your class.

It could be as simple as a list of choices for a project or something as grand as what is one thing you want to learn about this year?  Whatever the choice, use to create a crowd-sourced voting list and let your students have some say in their learning!

9. Integrate Selfies into your curriculum5b7df7199ed9f846a52813b021033049

This one might take some outside the box thinking,  but I’m guessing that there are students in your class that could come up with a creative way to do this.  Maybe take a selfie next to a science experiment? Or a selfie with an A+ paper? #SuperStudent

10. Curate a class Pinterest account 

Pinterest is a great visible way to curate resources but why not create a class account that has a different board based on projects throughout the year.  Add students as collaborators and let them post their projects to the board.  You could also have a board on gathering resources and information for a topic which would be a good time to mention what is and what isn’t a valid resource?

11. AppSmash Something

Besides just fun to say, you should definitely take multiple apps on whatever device you use and smash them together into a project.  Check out this post for the basics and remember, it doesn’t have to be you who is doing the smashing.  Let your kids come smash too!

12. Participate in a Twitter Chat

Twitter can be like drinking information from a fire house at times, but finding a good twitter chat on a topic and participating can be a great way to learn and grow as a teacher.  Check out Cybraryman’s list of twitter chats and times to find one that interests you. Don’t see any you like? Make your own! Remember in step #7 when you created your own class hashtag?

13. Make part of your classroom “Augmented”

Why not make take an app like Aurasma and hide some easter eggs around your room? You could make them about a project or just secret nuggets about you.  It’ll keep kids (and parents during back to school night) engaged and turn dead space in your classroom into an interactive learning opportunity.  Need some ideas?  Check out Lisa Johnson‘s List (Remember, you know how to make those now from #8!) of over 50 Augmented Reality apps.

14. Create a recipe on to make your life easier

With all of these tools and social media platforms, it might be a good idea to create some ways to automate tasks in your classroom. has some great pre-made “recipes” to combine some of your accounts into simple workflow solutions.  You can even have your plant email you when it needs water.

15. Create a Class Instagram Account 

Have a daily student photographer who’s job is to post an example of something your class/students did that day. If you don’t want to mess with “do not publish” lists, you could ask that it be of an object or artifact, not a person.  This would also be a good time to talk about when and how to ask permission to take someone’s photo.  Mix in your class hashtag(#7), throw in an IFTTT (#14)recipe, and all the sudden you can also auto-post selfies (#9) to your class Pinterest board (#10)

16. Perform in a LipDub Video 

This can be either a solo project or for even greater effect, tie in your parody song (#3) and have your students act out their learning throughout the video.  Don’t forget to hashtag it. Bonus points if said video goes viral like this one:

17. Make a class book

The ease with which you can publish books now is amazing.  Using a tool like Book Creator or iBooks Author, you can publish to the iBooks store or Amazon.  Don’t want to do something that intense? Keep it simple and make a book using Shutterfly and then have it printed as a keepsake.

18. Participate in a Mystery Hangout

This sounds a lot scarier than it is but essentially think of playing the game 20 questions with another classroom somewhere in the world. Here’s a link to a community page with more resources. It’s a great way to increase cultural and global awareness and you could event invite the other class to add to your Pinterest board (#10), vote on your (#8), comment on your blog (#1) or maybe co-collaborate on an eBook (#17).

19. Produce a class Audio podcast

Have students create a podcast highlighting classroom activities, projects or students.  To get it to the web quickly, post it to Soundcloud.  For the more advanced user, use a podcasting site like and actually get the podcast posted to iTunes.  That way mom and dad can listen to the weekly recap while going on their evening walk or driving to work.

20. GHO on Air with an expert

With so many resources and experts available, it only makes sense to bring in someone from “the real world”. This not only creates interest in the topic, it adds an air of authenticity.  Using Google Hangouts On Air means you can record this session on the fly and post it to your class site or embed it on your blog to generate discussion at home.

21. Become an activist for a worthy cause.

If the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge can teach us anything, it’s that sometimes a little creativity is all you need to awareness to a cause. Whether it’s helping a country in need or finding a cure for a disease,  our new connected society can be a powerful thing when galvanized for good.  Participating in a global project gives students perspective on their own lives while helping others with their own life challenges.

BONUS – Let your students drive the learning

While you could do all of these challenges by yourself, the real power comes in letting students own a piece of it.  They have the curiosity and the digital acumen, it’s the teacher’s job to give them instructional focus and empowerment.  We live in wonderfully connected times.  Despite all of technology’s perceived misgivings and the apocalyptic fears that we are losing ourselves as a society, why not use some of this power for good?

Just know that as a teacher in the 21st century you ultimately hold the key to unleash this creative beast.  So try something on the list this year that may force you a bit out of your comfort zone because there is no better way to learn than trying.

Just be sure you blog about it when you are finished as learning in isolation helps no one.

Oh….and be sure to hashtag it.


Update: Thanks to Sean Junkins who made this great little graphic for the challenge.  Collaboration at it’s finest!

Thanks to @sjunkins

Thanks to @sjunkins

iPad Screen Record on a Mac via Airplay!

Those of you that follow me on Twitter know that I’ve been begging for an app that let’s me screen capture everything I’m doing on my iPad.  Ideally, this would be on the iPad itself, but I realize that might be a couple of revs away.  Today I heard about Reflector App ( a $12.99 app that your run on your Mac that lets you mirror your iPad on the screen via Airplay.

Now you can screen record (via Quicktime) everything you do on your iPad or iPhone!  Gone are the days of recording in a dark room with a camera over your shoulder and a bad glare on the screen.

Some items to test out before using this: (Step-by-Step Instructions here)

Option 1: Network Connection

Are both devices on the same network? Does your network allow Bonjour and Multicasting? These are protocols that need to be enabled for Airplay to work on the network. One way  around this is to have your receiving MacBook “Create a Network” and then have your iPad join that network. Of course, this means internet will not work on the device.

Option 2: Bluetooth pairing

Another option is to “pair” your iPad to your laptop via bluetooth.  This means you don’t have to be on the same network or have any of those protocols enabled. (This will keep your crabby network guys happy)

See sample video below:

Note: This post updated.  More options now available since the writing of this post including a $3.99 app called AirServer.

TEC SIG 2008

I had the good fortune of attending this year’s TEC SIG conference in Austin and was not disappointed. Apple was the primary sponsor and presenter (along with Eduphoria and Discovery Education) and, as per usual with Apple, they continue to motivate and innovate in the field of education. Several presentations were given in the various meeting rooms regarding Apple’s MacBook Air and a Mac Server integration discussion. I attended the course on Apple’s Academy and the use of iPods in the classroom. Here are the highlights of the discussions I attended:

Apple Educational Trends
Dr. Tom Burnett gave a riveting and rather quick example of the changes in education today. Primarily, the use of “Hyper Mobile” devices (i.e. cell phones, PDAs, iPhones, etc) vs. the traditional laptop. In one study, he claimed that while over 80% of Penn State University students owned a laptop (a number I actually thought was low), only 20% took them to class. This study was done in 2006, but it basically stated that students were either being forced not to take laptops to a lecture hall (by the overprotective and controlling professors) or that they were getting their notes in other fashions, as in Hyper mobile devices. A compelling argument for the future of education for sure.

iPods in Education

As per the earlier discussion re:Hyper mobile devices, this one focused primarily on iPods (nanos, shuffles, iTouch) and their uses in education. Ysleta ISD in El Paso gave an iTouch to every administrator to use during observations and walk-throughs. The responses have been overwhelmingly positive, except for the fact that they also want to take these home and turn them into their own personal mp3 and movie playing devices. :-)
They are able to take notes and sync remotely since these devices pick up Wi-Fi signals. Teachers can then access the notes through Eduphoria for immediate feedback. Short, simple, and no need to copy multiple notes for someone’s file.

Apple Certification Training
Much like Microsoft’s Intel Training, Apple also offers training with primary focus being on Final Cut Pro, their high end version of iMovie. Teachers or districts pay to attend classes in person or self-paced virtual to complete the one-year course (*approx). Certification includes licensing to Final Cut Pro and other possible hardware devices. The idea is a simple one, kids are learning through digital video more now than ever (and idea I agree with completely). As a result, we need to start teaching differently to encourage this kind of technique in the day-to-day classroom. It allows for instant expression and collaboration (thanks to Youtube and other video sharing sites). Here’s a riveting example by “Funtwo” a student that’s gained fame for his version of Vivaldi’s Canon on guitar. Check out how many hits his video has gotten and you’ll see that we’ve entered a global realm of collabation.

Then, look at all the people from various cultures and backgrounds that have turned in video responses to his video, and you’ll see the power this media has to reach a multitude of audiences. Enjoy!

Mogulus – online tv

I’ve been checking out It promotes itself as an online way to broadcast your life or “lifecast”. Not sure if there really is a pro or con to this educationally, but it might potentially offer an alternative to the cost of video streaming with a company (and that company’s yearly fee). I’m not too sure what the privacy settings entail, but that would be a key to make it work on the Elementary level.Mogulus - Live Broadcast


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