Tag Archives: Brooke

4ALL: Looking Back – Reflecting on the Year

“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.” – James Levin

As teachers, we know and value the reflection process.  That time when we can think about what worked and what didn’t.  It’s a time to look critically at aspects of our year and make them a learning experience for our personal and professional growth; a way to think about how we can continue and/or change practices to meet the needs of our students.  Reflection is that piece that allows us to refine our skills and identify areas that we want to improve.  A way to develop effective action.  A true goal setting opportunity.

Here is a series of questions that may help you as you look back over the past year and assess your personal growth.

  • How did your year go and what makes you feel that way?
  • How did it go compared to what you thought might happen?
  • What things did you do that influenced the outcome of your year?
  • What skills, talents, and resources did you draw on to shape your learners?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • What are you learning about yourself?
  • When might you apply your new learning in the future?
  • In what ways has this reflection supported your thinking and learning?

Carmen Marty, Terri Brines, & Brooke Higgins are eMINTS Instructional Specialists and Cognitive Coaching/eMINTS Agency Trainers. For more information about Cognitive Coaching and related seminars visit the eMINTS National Center events page.

Tucker, L. (Photographer). (2010). Reflections!. [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/photographygal123/4948968848/

Thursday’s Tip: NASA TweetUp – eMINTS Teacher @ Space Shuttle Launch

Veteran eMINTS teacher from Hillsboro, MO, Krissy Venosdale, GreatDayToLearn.com and TeachFactory.com, is blogging and tweeting from NASA’s launch site this week. She was invited to attend and be a part of the NASA TweetUp.

“What is a Tweetup? A Tweetup is an informal meeting of people who use the social messaging medium Twitter. This Tweetup is an opportunity to learn more about NASA, explore NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and experience a space shuttle launch.” Krissy, known as KTVee on Twitter, is one of a few applicants that will be allowed behind the curtain to share with the world what happens, moment by moment, at the launch of the Endeavor space shuttle.

T-Shirt Krissy made with her students names so they could "attend" with her.

She wants to bring this awesome event to her students and yours by sharing her experience. Her blog will provide a live countdown, videos, pictures, interesting facts, teaching ideas, and her latest tweets. You can even ask her a question that she will pass on to a real astronaut.

What a great way to get your kids excited all while learning about math, science, and more. Check out her event blog, Learning Endeavour: One Teachers Space Shuttle Launch Experience to learn more and be a part of the Friday launch.

Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can read more at her blog Higgins Helpful Hints Blog.

*NASA, . “Connect and Collaborate with NASA.” 04apr2011. Discussion Board.
*“Endeavor.” Flickr – Koocheekoo. Web. 27 Apr 2011. <http://www.flickr.com/photos/koocheekoo/2331555537/>.
*“NASA TweetUp T-Shirt.” Flickr – KTVee. Web. 27 Apr 2011. <http://www.flickr.com/photos/venosdale/5657841099/in/photostream/>.

Tuesday’s Tool: I Published My Own Newspaper

Ok, I am probably pushing it just a bit when I say “I published My Own Newspaper”. What I should say is that paper.li created a “newspaper” based on the people that I follow on Twitter and what they have recently tweeted. It took only a few minutes after I logged in using my Twitter account.

The HigginsB Daily

When I open my Paper.li newspaper, The HigginsB Daily, I can easily scan the front page and see headlines from the day. Each “article” is  based on the information my PLN is interested in that they have shared on Twitter. With one click, I can be reading the web content shared by the people I follow. Every article includes a small image and the username of the person that submitted that tweet so that I know who the information was shared by. The paper also includes a hashtag (#), photos, and multimedia sections and my running Twitter feed.

Paper.li is a web 2.0 tool that “organizes links shared on Twitter and Facebook into an easy to read newspaper-style format.” There is another website, The Tweeted Times, that creates a personalized newspaper in the same way but what makes Paper.li so nice is how it organizes and categorizes the content.

Cool features: users can read anyone’s Paper.li newspaper from anyone that has created one or they can create a paper based on other Twitter or Facebook users. Paper.li newspapers can be set to update daily or even more frequently depending on user preferences, and Paper.li sends an email each day letting users know that there is new news to read.

Some downsides: there is a bit of advertising. The people at Paper.li have to get paid somehow 🙂. Also, Paper.li can’t filter the content on the page since they are simply aggregating content based on who the user follows. Depending on what PLN members share, there may be some questionable content. Users should test the site before using it with students.

Teachers, classrooms or individual students could create their own newspapers daily, weekly, or whenever and stay up to date with current events based on the “news” from their PLN.

OwlDesk on YouTube has a video, Social Media Tool: PaperLi, that quickly overviews how the tool works.

Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can read more at her blog Higgins Helpful Hints Blog.

Monday’s Message: Supporting Thinking

eMINTS & Cognitive Coaching: A Professional Development Opportunity

Ever wish you could communicate more effectively with the people you supervise, work with or train? Do you find it challenging to help people solve complicated problems they are facing or to change how they are teaching or working with others?

The Cognitive Coaching Foundation Seminar® is an eight-day professional development opportunity for instructional coaches, administrators, teachers, mentors, professors, supervisors, eMINTS PD4ETS program participants, certified Educational Technology Specialists and anyone who wants to encourage self-directedness of others. Participants will learn strategies to increase others’ thinking potential and mediate thinking when working with someone who is planning, reflecting or struggling with a problem. Cognitive CoachingSM – a research-based model – encourages the process of decision-making to achieve goals through metacognition.

If you are interested in learning more about supporting people in becoming self directed please visit http://www.emints.org/programs/cognitivecoaching/index.shtml to learn more about our Fall 2011 Cognitive CoachingSM Foundations Seminar.

Carmen Marty, Terri Brines, & Brooke Higgins are eMINTS Instructional Specialists and are becoming Cognitive Coaching/eMINTS Agency Trainers.

We’re Preparing Students for What Year?

I recently watched a video from the TEDxNYED that really hit home. A Challenge from Heidi Hayes Jacobs is a short (around 15 minutes) presentation not about educational reform, but educational “upgrades”.

Heidi Hayes Jacobs believes our educational system is not preparing kids for today but for years past. She believes we should be paying attention to things like global, digital, and media literacy (as well as others). She points out that we are using dated content, skills, and assessments that are not relevant to today’s learner.

She suggests that schools need to have students solving real life “stuff” and get evaluated on how well they accomplish that. She makes a case for students having a part in developing rubrics and determining what makes quality products such as digital portfolios and more. She has lots of ideas for projects that students could be invovled in. An example, “Every student should design an app and solve a real problem for people….” and then be evaluated on that real life task. She has endless ideas for how we might make school relevant and engaging to students today.

She doesn’t believe in school reform but new forms for schools where we look at making changes in how we schedule students lives and learning, how we group learners, where we meet, including the space around learners and she believes that it can start with each teacher making one change for the better.

To me, I hear a lot of what she is saying (and writing) and see some very strong connections to what we focus on in eMINTS. I am following her blog in the Curriculum 21 Ning now and am going to pay attention to what she is doing and pass that on. And I will continue to believe that I can make a change one day, one training session, one class visit, one lesson, one student, one teacher at a time.


Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can read more at her blog Higgins Helpful Hints Blog.

Eagle Watching With the World

The other night, I was reading through Facebook updates and ran across a link that two of my “friends” posted about the Bald Eagle UStream Cam in Iowa. Of course, I clicked on it and there was the 1 1/2 ton nest with an eagle roosting right in the middle of it.

Eagle Web CamAs I was telling my husband about how cool it was that I was, at that second, watching the female eagle re-adjust the 2 eaglets and 1 egg under her, he informed me that I was a bit behind; he had heard about it on public radio that morning. He told me that it was like the viral videos on YouTube but real time. I looked back down at the screen only to realize I was 1 in more than 177,000 people viewing the webcam at that moment and that the site has had more than 11 million views since beginning.

In a matter of minutes I learned that the pair of eagles have been together for almost 4 years in this area and have had hatched and fledged (got them to flight stage) 8 eaglets  total. This is their second nest in the area and was built in 2007; the first they built blew down in a storm. The nest is 5-6 feet across and deep and figured out that it weighs around 1 1/2 tons (3000 pounds). I took a couple of minutes and looked up details like how much a ton is, what you call a baby eagle, and what fledged means to answer some lingering questions I had…. Just think of where you could take this in your classroom.

The next morning, I opened my email to see a message from the people at The Futures Channel telling me about science videos and lessons they offer on their site for teachers to use to teach concepts such as Algebra and one of the links was to their Saving the Bald Eagle video. I started putting two and two together and figured what an opportunity for teachers to engage and excite their students with the wonders of science and math all through something that is happening right now.

The challenge now…how can you weave this cool, exciting, interesting, neat, real-time event in nature and resources into your day? How can you incorporate this topic and these tools into lessons that will help your students understand how science and math affects them every day for all their days to come but will also prepare them for the state assessment tests that are coming just around the corner? I know it’s hard to find the time with all the test prep booklets, worksheets, tests, ect. that you are given to use during this time but as eMINTS teachers I know you are always up for the challenge.


Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can read more at her blog Higgins Helpful Hints Blog.

Teaching Tips: Using Corkboard.me in Your Classroom

Some time back I shared how you might use a virtual corkboards as a collaboration tool in your classroom. Recently, a friend shared with me some updates that one of the online tools I highlighted has added. These new features make the tool even more dynamic. Corkboard.me is expanding and adding features to make it more useful and collaboration friendly. Here are some of the new options Corkboard.me offers:

Add Images – You can now add images to your board. All you need is the URL for an image location and you can paste it into a note by right clicking and selecting paste from the drop-down menu.

Mini Map Navigation – Corkboard.me has always had a small map in the bottom right corner that, when clicked, will show you where all notes have been placed. Great to use when you know others are pasting notes to a board and you can”t find them.

Real Time Changes – There is no need to refresh your page to see updates others make to your Corkboard.me page, casino they all happen in real time. When your students are collaborating with others outside of your classroom, everyone can see changes instantly.

Chatting – Sometimes when you and students are working with others that aren”t in the same room you need to do more then post a note on the corkboard, now Corkboard.me has a chatting feature. Have your students change the name to their first name and they can begin chatting. As the teacher you can monitor the conversations and add to the discussion as well.

Embedding – One of the coolest new features (I think) is that now you can embed your Corkboard.me page in any online tool that allows for embed code. Whether it be your website, wiki, Moodle course, or more, you can share what is on your corkboard page with anyone.

Corkboard Protection – Any finally, you can now show off your corkboards to others without the fear of them making changes. Corkboard.me allows you to “lock” a corkboard and share a View Only copy. It”s a link to a protected version you can give to anyone without the worry that the content will be changed.

Corkboard.me is not a paying sponsor or advertiser on this blog just a great online tool that I can”t quit talking about.

Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can read more at her blog Higgins Helpful Hints Blog.

4ALL: What inspires you?

Flying Delta over the clouds and Memphis, Tennessee

Sometimes I REALLY miss being a classroom teacher….having “my kids” and creating lessons just for them that will wow them, engage them, inspire them, and encourage them to be life long learners….that’s what I miss. Sometimes all it takes to remind me is one little inspiration, one little spark, one little idea.velcro wall for sale

Today that inspiration came when I was reading Descending Into The Clouds At Sunset, a blog post by Wesley Fryer on his blog Moving at the Speed of Creativity. His post was quick; with an image and video clip taken outside the window of his plane as he was descending upon Memphis, TN. On its most basic level, his post reminded me that I can upload video to my Flickr account to share with the world (how do I keep forgetting that). A bit deeper, it made me think about a lesson I was coaching a teacher through the other day where she is teaching the kids about cloud formations and how meteorologists use what they know about clouds to predict weather. This might be another resource she could share with her students. But on it’s deepest level for me – this video reminded me that not many of my students had ever experienced being in a plane, being ABOVE the clouds, being outside of our classroom, or even outside of our town.

Giving students experiences that helped THEM to build their knowledge was what I lived for as a classroom teacher. It was what I longed for in every lesson I taught…and when it happened I could almost hear the lightbulbs turning on. That is what I miss most about being a classroom teacher.

Now I get to work with many teachers and do the next best thing….inspire them to create inspiring learning opportunities for their students. So today, I offer Wesley Fryer’s blog post and this…..What inspires your teaching?

Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

Tuesday’s Tool: TitanPad

This week I visited a good friend in his Middle School Social Studies classroom and watched as his students were finishing up a project using a online collaborative document tool called Titanpad.com. He told me a little bit about how the kids were using it and some of the pros and cons of the tool. I said that it sounded a lot like Google Docs and he explained why he felt it was even better.

TitanPad allows students to work simultaneously on a document similar to a Google Doc but does not require a user account. His students simply needed the link to the “public pad” he created, they added their name in one of the toolboxes next to a color block so that he could monitor their participation, and they were off and running. They had access to basic formatting tools and individuals additions were color coded so that they could see who what adding what content. They saved changes as they went and had access to previously saved versions. When the class time was over someone saved the document and it was ready to go for the next day.

Other features: TitanPad also allows for importing from text file, HTML, Word, or RTF file or exporting to text file, HTML, Word, RTF, PDF, Bookmark, or OpenOffice files. There is also a chatting feature and a “time slider” that allows a user to “play” the document and watch the document develop over time.

Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

Thursday’s Tip: Engage Students with Animated Avatars – Voki

Voki is an online tool that lets users create personalized, talking avatars for free. The site provides an easy to navigate, step-by-step process to help you to create your own avatar in minutes. You can easily embed the personalized, animated avatar in your website, blog, email, or use them in your profile on many sites. See the Voki blog greeting I created here under the “Helpful Hints Blog” title.

Voki has been around for some time now but has just become a bit more classroom friendly and advertising free with the addition of Voki for Education. Accounts are created using an email address and the tool is very student friendly. The site now offers a Teacher‘s Corner (discussion board) and Lesson Plan database section to help you to start using Voki with students. They do suggest using Voki with kids 13 and over but teachers can use Voki to engage and excite students of all ages.

Some suggestions for using Voki in the classroom include create a class mascot that talks to visitors to the class, using a Voki to make announcements, weather, reports, tell stories, and so much more. Please share your ideas for using Voki by leaving a comment.

Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can read more of her blog posts at Higgin’s Helpful Hints Blog.