Tag Archives: Inspiration

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.

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.

eMINTS and Changing Educational Paradigms

Sometimes I need some proof or theoretical support for what I do as an eMINTS Instructional Specialist. The following video fills this need…

RSA Animate – Changing Education Paradigms

Picture 3

Aside from your political leanings, Sir Ken Robinson has some excellent points.

Robinson points out that education is undergoing a massive reform effort. The reform is geared to prepare our students for the economy of the 21st century while maintaining cultural identities in a time of globalization. However, we’re using an approach to learning and instruction that originated in the 18th and 19th centuries. What we need is a system that encourages collaboration and creativity, not traditional academic abilities. This is Robinson’s contention and it matches what we are doing with the eMINTS Instructional model.

Robinson’s assertions support the information and training I am brining to my teachers. And how do we do this at eMINTS? We provide training and support in community-building, cooperative learning, critical thinking, creativity, inquiry, and collaboration all through the use of technology. You can’t get anymore 21st century than that.

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. He occasionally blogs at Suppl_eMINTS when not managing Networked Teaching & Learning.

What Motivates Us

What motivates us?  What motivates students?  Enjoy this video based on Daniel Pink’s book Drive.  How might this content be applied to your classroom and your students?  What truly motivates our students?  Grades, free homework pass, knowing they did a great job?  How might we change our classrooms from focusing on carrots and sticks and help student become self-directed, autonomous thinkers?

Carmen Marty is an instructional specialist for the eMINTS National Center.

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