Moodle, Facebook, Edmodo, and Gmail had a baby— and its name is My Big Campus

We are the proud purchasers of Lightspeed content filtering system and are very excited about the kinds of reporting and granular filtering it does. So when my tech director called me into his office, I was dreading seeing one more report of bad behavior on the internet. He said, “Have you heard of My Big Campus?”

Well, I had not heard of it, and in typical fashion I ran into my office to Google it. I got a demo account and immediately fell in love.  It is like Moodle, Facebook, Edmodo, and Gmail had a baby— and its name is My Big Campus. I had spent the last five years in our district trying to get teachers to embrace the collaboration and communication opportunities and here they were all packaged into something that is FREE.  Our techs have worked diligently to create student and teacher accounts so we can do a pilot test group before school is out. Our goal is to roll out the product in full force in the fall. I am creating training —- scratch that— I am collecting training BUNDLES already made by others in My Big Campus and adapting them for us. I love that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Our teachers are anxious so I better go and get them started. I am also hoping to get to go to the free User Conference for My Big Campus in July. Money is tight, but maybe I can go. I want to be a guru on this program so the full roll out  is seamless. Here we go.

Store it in the Cloud!

Have you ever watched that show Hoarders? Well, I have to confess, I am a digital HOARDER. I save everything. I have files on my computer that are probably older then the computer itself thanks to flash drives and CD’s of old digital content. Guess what happens? My computer gets slower and begins to suffer because I am maxing out the storage.

Teachers are just as bad with their school’s instructional drive. We store EVERYTHING out there like it is endless, free real estate. Well, storage is expensive. Imagine how your computer reacts when you clog it up. Eventually your network and server will begin to react that way if we all hoard our digital stuff in there. So, what is the solution?

Back up and save your stuff in the cloud. Online storage is nothing new, it is just much better than ever before. Your options are plenty, but you need to consider what you are storing and if you are willing to have multiple accounts for free or if you want to pay for a lot of space in one location. I like free, so here are some really good options:

Specifically for pictures and videos:

Found at

Flickr and Picnik

Edit and share your photos

Flickr and Picnik photo editing and sharing WebtoolsFlickr is a website where you share and edit your photos. Flickr handles the organization and sharing, and its partner, Picnik, provides the photo editing features. While each of these webware applications is a powerful tool unto itself, the ease-of-use and integration of the partnership has made Flickr a standard link-in in many Web 2.0 websites.

You can create private groups of students and teachers to share and view photos.

Flickr has integrated itself well into established online applications and services, such as blogs and Facebook.

Because email registration information is required to work online, students under age 13 require adult supervision for use.

Easiest and one I use lots— Thanks to Richard Byrne for his post

For a long time Google Documents has made it very easy to publish work to the web by simply selecting the “anyone with link” or “make public on web” options in the sharing menu. Now Dropbox has gotten in on the easy file sharing game by introducing a very similar feature. The new Dropbox file sharing option allows you to publish to the web any file that is in your Dropbox account.

To publish files to the web from your Dropbox account simply click “get link” next to your file’s name and a URL for your file will be generated. Give that URL to anyone you want to view your file. People accessing that URL will be able to see the file and its contents but will not be able to edit or delete any of the file’s contents. Publishing isn’t limited to just one file at a time, you can publish an entire folder from your Dropbox account with one link. As TechCrunch’s Anthony Ha said about the new feature, “it’s ridiculously easy.”

Applications for Education
Dropbox is a great service for teachers and students to save all kinds of files online. Used in conjunction with DropItToMe Dropbox is a great place to collect students’ works without flooding your email inbox. The new file sharing option will make publishing students works very easy. If students have a portfolio of writing that they wish to share online, Dropbox file sharing could be what they need.
The next options are described thanks to Danateacher on her blog

Windows Live-Skydrive

  • 25 gbs of free internet backup space.
  • Access to Office Web Apps, which includes the online 2010 versions of Excel, Powerpoint, Onenote, and Word.
  • Perfect for documents and photo online backup.
  • Great sharing and document collaboration tools.
  • Not a good place to backup videos (unless they are small).
  • Very fast uploads.
  • Requires a Windows Live ID, which is fast and easy to create. You can even use your school email address if you prefer instead of creating a new Hotmail address.
  • Sign up here.


  • 50gbs of free remote backup online.
  • Look and feel of a regular pc desktop file manager (folders, tree styling).
  • Great for long term storage of anything under 2gbs (upload limit per file).
  • There is enough space for “disk to disk” data replication- aka, internal pc desktop hard drive or external hard drive to online hard drive.
  • I store my videos here, as well as backups of documents and images.
  • Sign up here.


  • Evernote is perfect for documents.
  • You have a monthly allowance of traffic in the megabytes, but I almost never reach it unless I try to sync images or too many large PDFs.
  • I use Evernote to track the daily agenda posted on my projector screen, discipline reports, curriculum, etc.
  • It uses tags instead of folders, much like Gmail.
  • It can act as a hub for all your documents in one place.
  • You can use Evernote on your Ipod, Blackberry, Mac, PC, Ipad, Window’s Mobile, etc. etc. Versatile is clearly one of their mottoes.
  • Download their free application and sync all your docs from school to home and vice-versa. The good news is that if you do not have access to their application, there is always the online account in “the cloud”.
  • Sign up here.


Google Docs

  • Good for documents.
  • Recently improved uploading features.
  • Edit documents in Google Apps, which now includes a Sketch application.
  • Strong collaboration features.
  • Depending on your school, you may have specialized Google Apps available for your company on your school’s server.
  • Sign up here.

C5 Connected Classroom Pilot Program

Here are some great pictures of the Macbooks being prepared to go out to teachers and eventually used by students at Moody Middle and Springville High.

What have you learned today and why did you learn it?

I wish I took more time to blog. I am better with Twitter and updating my website. Right now I don’t know what I am good at– potty training (fail), teaching 5 year old his letters (fail), teaching 12 year old how to be mature (epic FAIL). One thing I know I am pretty good at is learning. I love to learn. Now, don’t  misunderstand me… I don’t really like being a student. I have two college degrees and a National Boards Certification, but I don’t really like being a student. Why? I don’t like people telling me what to learn. I like to have choice and learn what is meaningful and relevant to me, my family, my job, my life.

What have I recently learned?

Youtube- How to make a hairbow; How to grout tile; How to make a pillow out of an old TShirt;

Pinterest- Alabama Crimson Tide room decor ideas; Snapguides for learning; Recipes

Houzz- Ideas for black trim and doors in houses

Twitter- searches for #isummitconf #class2012 #aetc2012 #iste2012 to follow fellow learners

Google- well… too much to add

Conferences- AETC and iSummit taught me lots as I learned with other geeky educators like me

You know– I learned because I was motivated to learn something. This is much like our students.

“If students aren’t motivated, it is difficult, if not impossible, to improve their academic achievement, no matter how good the teacher, curriculum, or schoolis,” say Alexandra Usher and Nancy Kober in this Center on Education Policy paper. “Moreover, unmotivated students candisengage other students from academics, which can affect the environment of an entire classroom or school.” When students are motivated, on the other hand, they perform better academically, attain greater conceptual understanding, feel better about school, have higher self-esteem, are better adjusted socially, and have higher rates of school completion.

Four Dimensions of Motivation

  1. Competence — The student believes he or she has the ability to complete the task.
  2. Control / Autonomy — The student feels in control by seeing a direct link between his or her actions and an outcome and retains autonomy by having some choice about whether or how to undertake the task.
  3. Interest / Value — The student has some interest in the task or sees the value of completing
  4. Relatedness — Completing the task brings the student social rewards, such as a sense of belonging to a classroom or other desired social group or approval from a person of social importance to the student.

I was also very inspired to consider student motivation because of two books Linchpin by Seth Godin and Drive by Daniel Pink.

“Carrots & sticks are so last century. Drive says for 21st century work, we need to upgrade to autonomy, mastery & purpose.” (p 203) Drive



So my question is… what will you do this year to motivate students? Think of your own learning experiences. Not the ones years ago in school but the ones that happen every day. Why do you seek to learn something? How can we make our classroom foster this kind of motivation for students?


Leading and Learning– how many points is this worth?

I have found lots of great resources lately and wanted to share some of them. These are not my typical techie sites, but these are a few articles about leading and learning that I found through my PLN on Twitter. I am hoping to refresh myself as an educator and a leader by getting back into the groove of growing a group of colleagues/peers that I can bounce ideas off of and share with. I am often reminded that the definition of INSANITY is doing things the same and expecting different results. My guess is that most of you are the folks in your school who lead the change just to stay sane!

So anyway, if you have a few minutes (because we all have free time running out of our ears) here are a few items that lit my fire recently. Give them a scan.

Movie Junkie

Cover of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off Buelle...

Cover via Amazon

Found this great list on Edutopia featured from Nick at Which of these is your favorite? I have seen all but two, so those will have to be my next Netflix choices.

In honor of Edutopia’s 20th anniversary, we’re producing a series of Top 20 lists, from the practical to the sublime.

These are the top 20 movies every educator should watch. While every movie is not specifically about educators, there is definitely something to take away from each. These movies are not listed in order of importance, just the order they came to me. Each title is linked to their IMDB page. 

Summer School
Mark Harmon tries to be the teacher he is not and only succeeds in reaching his students when he is the teacher they need him to be. Be true to yourself and the students will listen.

Lean on Me
Morgan Freeman plays Joe Clark, the principal who is willing to do anything it takes to help make his school safe and create an environment for all students to learn. Sometimes doing what’s tough is what’s best for kids.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
As a teacher, this movie is a bit funnier when you think about the things Ferris is able to pull off and the craziness Edward Rooney, the principal, must have had to deal with to push him over the edge.

Dead Poet’s Society
One of the main reasons I wanted to be an English Teacher my captain, my captain.

Stand and Deliver
This is a great movie about reaching students who feel like they have no hope of success in their life. Looking at it now, it also has something to say about standardized testing.

Searching for Bobby Fischer
A young chess prodigy is pushed by his father and chess teacher to be the best, when he just wants to play. Thought provoking story about how we treat gifted children. Do we really know what is best for them?

The Karate Kid
A wimpy kid is trained to defend himself by a old Japanese man. What I always take away from this movie is the unconventional ways that Mr. Miyagi taught Daniel. Sometimes the unconventional is the way to go.

Max Fischer, played by Jason Schwartzman, is the student that seems to be involved in everything, but can’t seem to get his studies done. Bill Murray should have won an Oscar for his performance. I think every school has a Max, but how do we reach them?

Besides being the right thing to do, Carrie showcases a great reason on why kids should never bully other students. You never who has telekinetic powers, so be nice to everyone.

Mean Girls
Tina Fey does a great job with this script showing how high school gossip and overall cattiness plays out. It is a funny take on a serious issue in some high schools.

Reese Witherspoon and Mathew Broderick (now playing a teacher) are amazing in this film showing the dark underbelly of student government. It is a funny movie that, as a teacher, makes you wonder what student leadership is all about.

It might seem like a bit dated for today’s schools, but Heather’s commentary on cliques is still relevant. Heathers is an excellent movie that still packs a punch today.

Dazed and Confused
Forget about the herbal parts of the movie and focus on Jeremy London’s character. He is supposed to be “the jock” and commit to being a certain person. He fights to be himself and that is something to be admired.

The Breakfast Club
A movie that is a must-see for everyone. When I watch the movie now, it reminds me that no matter how I might perceive a student to be, there is a good chance they have some darker parts they are just waiting to share. Sometimes they just need someone to ask.

Finding Forrester
One of Sean Connery’s last movies before he retired and he is magnificent. A young man gets into a fancy prep school on a basketball scholarship, but it turns out he is a great writer who butts heads with his tyrannical English teacher. Connery is reclusive writer who helps the student find his voice. There is more to students than we realize at times.

The Mighty
This is a story about two unlikely friends that have much to learn from one another. I stumbled upon this movie a few years ago and loved it. I will always stop and watch it.

Real Genius
Val Kilmer is very funny in this movie. He mentors a young kid who skips ahead to college. It’s interesting to see what the pressure of being a “genius” can sometimes do to a person.

School Ties
This has an all-star cast dealing with bigotry during the 1950’s. Even though it deals with anti-Semitism, the story truly applies to all types of discrimination students might face in schools.

Super 8
The reason this movie is on the list is because I feel it nailed the type of relationship young boys have at a particular age. JJ Abrams did an amazing job of writing exactly how young boys act when they are goofing around or when there is a girl in their midst. When dealing with boys in the classroom, this movie might help you make sense of their actions.

Stand by Me
This is another example of boys being boys, but also young kids being forced to deal with unfair expectations or labels based on their families. Whether it’s not living up to your all-star brother or trying to escape the reputation of a criminal brother, fighting to be yourself is never easy.

What other movies would you add to this list? Please add to the comments section below.

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The World is Changing…


Image by tonynetone via Flickr

I had to repost part of one of my favorite blogs The He always puts things in a way that makes me dink myself in the head in the old “I wish I’d had a V8” fashion. Here goes:

Kids today no longer want to play by our rules.

They don’t understand why schools are locked up at 3:30 and on weekends.

They don’t understand why computer labs contain equipment that is inadequate compared to what they use at home (and in the car).

They don’t understand why they’re constantly told to read more, yet school libraries are inaccessible for 3 months during the summer.

They don’t understand why teachers and administrators are given the option of improving their own technology skills.

They don’t understand why so many adults in charge of their education still seem to think PowerPoint is cutting edge (and while I’ve got your attention… if you still feel the need to use PowerPoint… stop using 18,000 words per slide!).

They don’t understand tenure or salary schedules.

But they do understand learning doesn’t begin and end for them at school.

Their education isn’t tied to a bell schedule or holiday breaks.

They know their education isn’t better because of worksheets, memorization, or mandated testing.

They get it.

They know what we still seem to be confused by.

They don’t need us.

The don’t need brick buildings that are only open 7 hours a day.

They have the internet.

And curiosity.

They’re going to learn with or without our help.

And the learning process is not going to stop for them after 8th grade.  Or high school.  Or even college.

They’re smarter than us right now.

And they’re going to be a lot smarter than us in 50  years.

The future isn’t coming, it’s already arrived.

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