On Tuesday, Septemnber 8th, President Obama spoke directly to students across the country on the importance of taking responsibility for their education, challenging them to set goals and do everything they can to succeed.

The While House makes this video available directly at their website, but in order to conserve network resources a copy has been placed on the School District of Palm Beach County’s internal video server. You can view the entire video below.

In addition to the video of the President’s speech additional resources are available from the White House for inclusion in classroom lesson plans.

In Palm Beach County we all (mostly) know and love the great curriculum resources provided by BrainPOP, and it’s companions–BrainPOP Junior and BrainPOP en Espanol. Our usage of these services is through the roof, and our teachers report over and over again how much they and their students love BrainPOP and the engaging content that the service provides.


Now, through a comprehenisive study conducted with our own teachers and teachers in New York City schools we can back up how we feel about BrainPOP content with a scientific study that measured the impact of BrainPOP on student learning gains. To say the results are striking would be an understatement.

Looking at the chart here you can see the differences in learning gains measured using the Stanford 10 diagnostic test. Students in the BrainPOP groups had substantially greater gains than those in the control groups where BrainPOP was not integrated into the curriculum. Reading from the Executive Summary of the BrainPOP Effectiveness Study conducted by SEG Research you learn that:

Students who were in classes that used BrainPOP showed substantial growth in Science, Language,
and Reading Comprehension and more moderate gains in Vocabulary, during the course of the
study. Students in classes using BrainPOP increased their SAT 10 Language scale-scores by 24
points, their Reading Comprehension scores by 17 points, their Science Scores by 17 points, and
their Vocabulary scores by 11 points (see Figure 1). Students received approximately 16-20 weeks
of instruction using BrainPOP, yet the amount of growth achieved is equivalent to between one and
two grade levels of growth when compared to the national sample of students
included in the
Stanford 10 norm group (Harcourt Assessment, 2002).(emphasis added)

In addition to the Executive Summary you can read the full, detailed Report on BrainPOP Effectiveness at this link.

A companion study conducted at the same time found that “the use of multimedia instruction can significantly enhance student learning if properly designed and implemented. BrainPOP uses animation, voice, characters, diagrams and more to motivate and engage learners in curricular topics. Read the full research paper – Understanding Multimedia Learning: Integrating Multimedia in the K-12 Classroom.

Our thanks to the teachers who participated in this study and to the great people at BrainPOP who gave our teachers instruction on its most effective use in the classroom. I had the pleasure of sitting in as Allisyn from BrainPOP Educator’s worked with our teachers to examine our benchmarks and demonstrate how lessons that support and enhance instruction can be found in BrainPOP’s library, and shared how she had used different kinds of content in her own classroom. The remarkable thing about the approach that the entire BrainPOP organization takes is how totally focused they are on creating authentic, fun, engaging learning experiences for kids. In a world run amuck with multi-media of all kinds, it’s often a tall order to get the attention of students and get them focused on your learning objectives. Based on this study, BrainPOP content does just that–engaging learning in the classroom in a way that leads to measurable gains.

Of course, no one, not even the folks at BrainPOP, claims that this kind of multi-media content engages every kind of learning, or is the best and only use of classroom computers. But clearly BrainPOP is far more than simply a modern-day version of the filmstrip if used as intended–as an awesome and fun (even!) curriculum add-on to get help kids get focused and excited (even!) about learning.

The use of technology Digital Communicationin the classroom to engage and motivate students is hardly a new concept. The question that both teachers and policy-makers have been asking themselves almost from the moment that the first computer landed in a classroom is a simple one: “Which kinds of programs work?”

In 1998 the Milliken Family Foundation released a study that identified 7 dimensions of effective technology integration. Even though this report was released over 10 years ago, the focus and dimensions that were identified are hardly dated. In fact, 10 years of experience in the classroom and the release of standards such as those created by ISTE for both teachers and students have validated the domains of learning that lead to effective technology integration. (You can download and read the full report here in PDF format.)

Here’s a brief recap of the identified dimensions of technology integration that can be used as a guide in designing your own programs and for examining their effectiveness:

1. Learners: Are learners using the technology in ways that deepen their understanding of the content in the academic standards and, at the same time, advance their knowledge of the world around them? Does the student use contemporary technology, communication networks, and associated learning contexts to engage in relevant, real-life applications of academic concepts?

2. Learning Environments: Is the learning environment designed to achieve high academic performance by students through the alignment of standards, research-proven learning practices, and contemporary teaching methods? Does the school culture enable teachers to individually and collectively improve the learning and teaching process through the use of technology? Is there sufficient access to technology tools, data, and the means to examine and manipulate them?

3. Professional Competency: Are educators fluent with technology and do they use technology tools to impact student achievement? Do teachers provide learning contexts that require students to take on more independent roles in their own learning?

4. System Capacity: Is the education system re-engineering itself to systematically meet emerging needs of a changing global workforce and new educational objectives? Is there a system to build human capacity through training and mentoring?

5. Community Connections: Are key community and school stakeholders committed and involved in the planning, funding, implementing, and evaluating the system’s use of technology? Is their clear articulation of roles, expectations, implementation, time lines, and accountability?

6. Technology Capacity: Are there adequate technology, networks, electronic resources and support to meet the goals of the system? Is capacity evenly distributed? Do all students and teachers have equal opportunities?

7. Accountability: Is there agreement on what success with the successful use of technology looks like? Are there measures in place to track progress, report results, and change as needed?

While there may be individual points to argue in this study, there is much to be gained by asking these questions. As you examine your own priorities and the priorities of your school, how would you answer? What changes do you feel need to be made in the approach you are taking with technology integration? And where do you feel changes are needed?

I think that we’d all agree that sometimes it’s time to get back to the basics.  When your students are challenged to learn a set of facts,  repetition and simplicity can do the trick.  Whether it is learning State Capitals, mathmatical properties, or the scientific names of insects,  I have found nothing more practical than a great set of flash cards….THAT’S RIGHT… FLASH CARDS!!!


Here’s a resource www.flashcardsdb.com that you might find benficial to use to find or create just the right set for your students, AND SHARE THEM ON EDLINE!!

Simply supply your students with the link to your favorite set of flashcards, or build a page that will allow for embedded online practice right in Edline!

I hope that you’ll find some value in  this tool, and agree that this simple way to provide some quick interactive practice and reinforcement for your students is something you can all do!  Good Luck!

 Bio Final flashcards from bluechick676 on FlashcardDB.





As you begin the 2009-2010 school year it’s good to keep the significant role that teachers play in the lives of our students in proper perspective. Here are a few words from some famous individuals with their thoughts on teachers. (Quotes courtesy of The Quote Garden):

I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework.  ~Lily Tomlin as “Edith Ann”

The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called “truth.”  ~Dan Rather

In teaching you cannot see the fruit of a day’s work.  It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years.  ~Jacques Barzun

Modern cynics and skeptics… see no harm in paying those to whom they entrust the minds of their children a smaller wage than is paid to those to whom they entrust the care of their plumbing.  ~John F. Kennedy

Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theater.  ~Gail Godwin

A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on cold iron.  ~Horace Mann

A teacher’s purpose is not to create students in his own image, but to develop students who can create their own image.  ~Author Unknown

What the teacher is, is more important than what he teaches.  ~Karl Menninger

Teaching should be full of ideas instead of stuffed with facts.  ~Author Unknown

One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings.  The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.  ~Carl Jung

The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.  ~Kahlil Gibran

The task of the excellent teacher is to stimulate “apparently ordinary” people to unusual effort.  The tough problem is not in identifying winners:  it is in making winners out of ordinary people.  ~K. Patricia Cross

When you teach your son, you teach your son’s son.  ~The Talmud

The best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book.  ~Author Unknown

Often, when I am reading a good book, I stop and thank my teacher.  That is, I used to, until she got an unlisted number.  ~Author Unknown

Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.  ~John Cotton Dana

Here are a few more from Teacher Appreciation

“We think of the effective teachers we have had over the years with a sense of recognition, but those who have touched our humanity we remember with a deep sense of gratitude.”
Anonymous student

“If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn’t want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher’s job. ”
Donald D. Quinn

“None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We got here because somebody – a parent, a teacher, an Ivy League crony or a few nuns – bent down and helped us pick up our boots. ”
Thurgood Marshall

“Education…beyond all other devices of human origin, is a great equalizer of conditions of men –the balance wheel of the social machinery…It does better than to disarm the poor of their hostility toward the rich; it prevents being poor.”
Horace Mann

“Public education rests precariously on the skill and virtue of the people at the bottom of the institutional pyramid.”
Tracy Kidder
“The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future life.”

“The very spring and root of honesty and virtue lie in good education.”

“I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well”
Alexander the Great

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”
Henry Adams

Have a GREAT school year! Your students are counting on you!

He makes a decision... his own choice

John Shoemaker set up a Shelfari book club with all the books from one of my previous blogposts.

I know it took a lot of time to set up (so, a BIG thank you to John) but it won’t take a lot of time for YOU to join and participate in the discussions. If you’re interested, just join Shelfari (free), and join our group. It will be a great activity to do for the summer that can carry well into the school year.

You’ll see that Shelfari allows you to add books to your own shelf, and track whether you’ve read them, are reading them currently or plan to read them. You can rate them, mark them as favorites, comment and recommend for others. You can also add friends and send messages to each other as well as view the most popular books being read and recommendations for you.

I’ve already started my first book, Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire, by Rafe Esquith fwhich will be followed by  The Herb Kohl Reader by Herbert Kohl. For those of you who are interested in joining us on Shelfari, but aren’t quite sure what it’s all about, here are two recent segments from PalmBreezeCAFE where I show Kim Cavanaugh how to use Shelfari.

Shelfari Part I

Shelfari Part II

The nice thing about the Shelfari group is that there is a discussion set up for each book on the original list, so you can not only jump in on any discussion on any book, but you can throw in your own book and add your own discussions!

Why would you want to reinvent the wheel when you can access resources already created by teachers like you? With Discovery MediaShare, you can find all types of resources (lesson plans, videos, spreadsheets, tutorials, podcasts, images, and more) by searching by keywords, file type, subject, grade level, even standards! Best of all you can share your resources too! Teachers in our district already have accounts. Watch this 10 minute segment to learn all you need to know about sharing resources on DE MediaShare.

Jordan D.



3rd grader, Jordan D. attended work with her father on Take Your Child to Work Day. Since part of Dad’s job is blogging on behalf of our team, we asked Jordan and her sister to write their own blogposts. This is Jordan’s first blogpost ever. We hope to see many more from here on.

Today I went to work with my father. Today we fixed a computer. My sister came with us. We had so much fun. We went to lunch with my mother. We came back. My father had to help Mark and friends put boxes in a truck. Me and Kaleigh got stuck in an elevator. We came back up and we found our father looking for us. The End.

Kaleigh D.Today is take your kid work day and I am at work with my dad.  He works at the School District Office in the Educational Technology Department.

So while I am here I am going to blog about Brainpop. Brainpop is an informational website.

This website has two characters–one is a guy named Tim the other is a robot named Moby. They are the ones that teach you the information.

Brainpop can help you to study for a test.  Brainpop has all kinds of ways to study.  They have videos, games with information in them.  It has quizzes that help a lot too.

I think Tim and Moby make things easy to understand.  But some times Moby’s beeps are hard to make out.  You can learn about Science, Math, Art, Music, Social Studies, English, Health, and Technology.  You can basically type in anything you want to search for and it will give you a list of videos and resources about your topic.

Brainpop is good for grades 4th and up.  There is another website called Brainpop Jr.  That website is for grades 1st and up to 3rd grade.

I wish all my classes had me go on Brainpop all the time.  When a big test comes around now you know where to go.

I’m a serious softball player so I liked this picture of Moby talking about baseball. But they really should have a movie about girls playing softball, don’t you think? After all, girls rule!

Moby from BrainPOP

This is one of those “two-fer” postings where you get two news items for the price of one. Cool huh?

First off, we’re compiling information right now about our own Palm Beach Technology Conference and we’d love to hear from you! In fact, we’re so anxious to get your feedback that we’re giving away an iPod Nano to an individual who completes our survey and provides us with their contact information. We’ll be using this information to plan next year’s conference and we can use all the feedback we can get. So, if you haven’t done so already, run, don’t walk, to the Particpant Survey for the 2009 Technology Conference and let us know what you loved, and maybe didn’t love so much, about this year’s show.

FETC Virtual Conference 2009

Next up is news from the Florida Educational Technology Conference, otherwise known as FETC.

FETC is launching its first-ever virtual technology conference to be held this Thursday, April 23rd with a keynote presentation kicking things off at 11:00 am, followed by some interesting presentations from a wide range of speakers. I’m curious about the panel discussion that will take place in the afternoon, titled “Impact of the Federal Stimulus Package on Districts and Schools”. Other topics may speak to you, so be sure to check it out and visit the schedule of events and list of speakers that you’ll find on their web site.

Registration is required, but the virtual conference is free, so head on over and sign up here!

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