Chrome Music Lab

Chrome Music Lab

Chrome Music Lab is a wonderful introduction to digital music for young people.



Transformational Change: A how-to guide for educators

"Transformational change." It has a great ring to it, doesn’t it? While multiple definitions exist, they seem to share similar phrases, such as holisticprofound, and over time. Many feel that the process of transformational change needs to mirror what it seeks to create, which might lead us to this oft quoted remark, “We must be the change we want to see happen in the world.”

Unsplash Your Photos!

Unsplash is a photo repository where anyone can go and use any of the gorgeous photos you see for free.  Really! There are no gimmicks we can see.

Welcome to The Charge Blog

The Schlechty Center is proud to announce that the Engagement Connection, our blog site for the past two years, has moved to our new website and is now called The Charge Blog. You can access The Charge Blog from our home page by clicking the link in the upper right-hand corner.

Many of you access our blogs repeatedly because they provide a great place to study the correlation of digital tools with engagement. To accommodate this, we have moved ALL the blogs from the Engagement Connection into our new site.  You can still scroll through the old blogs for help with digital tools.

Thank you for following our blogs and you can look forward to many more in the years ahead.

The Engagement People

The Power of Social Motivation

Erin Pierson found herself contemplating a very specific social need: she wanted a new, modern radio for her car, and she was driven by a sense of satisfaction she would feel by installing the radio herself [Affirmation].

Phil Schlechty often wrote that learning begins with a product, performance, or exhibition about which the student cares. Erin chose a meaningful product, a new radio in her car [Product Focus]. She also set a very high standard for achieving her goal. When she was finished, she sought a professional grade installation that included looking and performing like a factory installed radio [Clear and Compelling Product Standards].

Erin had to learn a lot to bring the goal to fruition. She had never installed a car radio before and had no idea where to begin. She did not choose traditional learning methods like reading an instructional manual or attending a lecture at a local tech school. Instead, she chose to create her own learning platform. She curated appropriate video tutorials on YouTube. She also consulted local experts for advice and necessary content. In this learning platform she went down a few uncharted roads as her learning took her towards a variety of new content that she did not even know she would need at first,  like how to solder wires together and the electrical concepts of how radios work [Organization of Knowledge].

What did she achieve?  She mastered the motor skills required to remove and install the new radio [use tools, solder wires, estimate fit, etc.]. She learned about electricity as she mastered concepts of which wires go where and why.

When she was finished, Erin sought more affirmation from significant others – namely her friends. She blogged about her experience on Facebook, and in doing so received a lot of positive feedback from friends and family.

“Tonight, I installed a new car stereo in my car, for me, all by my freaking self. Yes, there were lots of curse words and a last-minute trip to Fred Meyer. Thank-you nice salesman who didn't make me feel like a fool when I said I needed a "smoldering" tool instead of "soldering," and then helped me find the solder I needed when I had no idea you even needed that to go with the tool. I didn't even know if I was supposed to solder the wires together, and took a wild guess. The moment I turned it on and it actually worked, I almost cried. I did it. Me with no electrical experience, some YouTube videos, and my stubborn woman spirit said I'm tired of paying men to do stuff for me. I'm trying this myself.”

In completing her project, Erin demonstrated a textbook example of profound learning occurring through engagement by way of Phil Schlechty’s Design Qualities in action.

The story is a powerful metaphor for how students engage in learning. Students often seek the affirmation of meeting a challenge. They tell us this repeatedly in student interviews. Twenty first century students are showing an inclination away from traditional learning strategies like the lecture and toward self-directed learning platforms like curation and primary sources. The importance of the affirmation of friends, family, and peers is evident in their use of social media. The rise of the Maker Movement is a testament to the power of Product Focus.

When teachers harness the power of social motivation, they can go a long way towards engaging their students in learning.

More Free Tools That Don't Require a Log-In

This is our second article on free digital tools that don't require a login. To see the first set, click this link.

The truth about digital tools is that there aren't many that are really free. Most "free" tools have some catch. The best tools give you a liberal amount of usage for free and then you can elect to buy more features. But many of these free digital tools have one seemingly insurmountable roadblock for some educators: They require the user to establish a log-in and password. While many school systems permit users to do this, some do not...especially when it comes to younger students. What follows here is a review of two excellent, free, digital tools that can be used online without a log-in or password or the divulging of any personal information. One applies to the world of reading and language arts. The other is a  math game site.

My Shakespeare. My Shakespeare takes four of the bards most famous plays and augments them with audio recordings, contemporary translations, pop-up notes, videos, performances, and character interviews. Anyone who has taught Shakespeare to high school students knows much of the enjoyment can be lost in a world of Elizabethan prose and poetry. With My Shakespeare, a young reader can instantly see translations of difficult passages, hear them performed with audio and video, or read applicable notes. My Shakespeare could seriously increase a students ability to engage with the bard because it addresses the Design Quality of Organization of Knowledge so well. Thanks to Caitlin Tucker for sharing this tool. She has an extended blog here.

Math Playground. Math Playground offers a large assortment of math games in a variety of topics. The content looks elementary to middle school in terms of topics and difficulty, but math teachers may find some of the games move into high school content. The good news here is students just go to the site and play - no login required. Another strength for this site is the sheer amount of Novelty and Variety. There are over 100 games available.

The list of digital tools that can be accessed without first establishing an account is growing. If your budget is tight or access is highly restricted, consider these tools and the others in our first blog.

10 Digital Tools for Classroom Use

We are often asked to recommend digital tools to our clients. We resist this because the attraction and use of any digital tool is dependent on many factors including the skill levels of the user [teacher and student], the intended use of the tool and perhaps most important: the Design Qualities a teachers is trying to leverage. In addition, we already publish a comprehensive list of digital tools at SC Web Resources for Schoolwork.

Sometimes our master list at  SC Web Resources for Schoolwork can be overwhelming. After all, there a literally hundreds of tools listed there.

This blog is for teachers who would like to see a short list of tools that they can use in the classroom. We have no business connection with these companies.  We have used these tools and seen them in action in schools. All have a significant free use component.

Adobe Spark - Adobe has moved their Post, Page, and Video tools under one website. One of the easiest sites to work with we have seen. Create stunning posters, beautiful websites, and fast picture videos.
Lucidchart - Great graphic organizing that works seamlessly through your Google Drive.
Quizalize - A platform to create quiz games for students. Quizalize lets you send quizzes to students to complete on their own time.
My Storybook - This is a free, easy to use laptop storybook tool. Students can type text, draw, and insert pictures. The final product can be printed.
Playposit - Allows you to import video, trim it, add questions, comments, etc. Used to be called EdCannon. An alternative to Playposit is  EDpuzzle - Same as Playposit only it has a few more bells and whistles - namely you can add audio as comments or complete overdub.
Storybird - Collaborative storytelling. Match stories with artwork. Students can join a class without divulging personal info.
StoryboardThat - Create comic books. Print as a PDF.
Plotagon - A viable free alternative to GoAnimate.  Plotogon is downloaded to your device.  You can work offline and it has life-like animation.  The free package is super and you can buy add-ons as desired.
Newsela - News articles published on multiple lexile levels. Another similar platform is TweenTribune.
eMaze - A neat "alternative to PowerPoint, Keynote, et al" presentation tool.
Blendspace - A great site to curate content. Now called TES.
NearPod - NearPod allows you to send slides to your student devices and control what they are looking at. It moves the screen from the front of the room to the students device. Also has interactive possibilities.
Kahoot - create quizzes, surveys, etc in a game-based format. A national hit!

Classic Cars and Classical Greece

One of Phil Schlechty's favorite stories was the metaphor of "Classic Cars and Classical Greece."

As a young teacher in the 1950's, Phil looked out across his classroom of teenagers, many of them boys, and wondered how he was going to generate any interest in teaching the history of Classical Greece.

Because he had gotten to know his student's interests and values, he was keenly aware that his class of teenage boys were interested in cars and driving, particularly old classic cars. An idea began to take shape. What if the students had to compare the concepts behind classic cars and Classical Greece? Questions began to surface like: What makes a car a classic? What made life in 4-5 B.C. Greece classical? The walls of Phil's classroom soon were covered with pictures of classic cars and Classical Greece. His students engaged and soon wanted to know more. They extended their learning deep into the history of Classical Greece.

Phil had leveraged the Design Quality of Authenticity. By linking content that was real and relevant to rigorous and challenging academic content, he got his students to commit their time and best efforts to learning about Classical Greece.

When a teacher decides to leverage Authenticity, it is important to remember that just picking three to four ideas that might be relevant to students is not going to generate authenticity. Teachers need to have hard evidence that ideas they choose to embed in classroom work are going to be authentic to the student. Such evidence be found out by listening, observing, and perhaps most important, asking. For example, a teacher listening to students talk excitedly before class about the weekend rides at the local theme park, has hard evidence that studying physics through roller coasters may genuinely engage students. Conversely, the teacher who simply decides all students like music and designs work that connects a sixties pop song to some academic content may find that the students don't like that particular musical genre and the hope for engagement will fade quickly. Many educators who have followed Phil Schlechty's work affectionately call this "knowing your who". It means a teacher has to truly know students values, likes and dislikes to leverage the Design Qualities.

"Classic Cars and Classical Greece" is an enduring metaphor from Phil Schlechty. In this simple story, the concepts of engaging students with Design Qualities comes front and center.

The Engagement People

Get Your Kahoot Jumble On

Kahoot may be the most popular quiz game platform used in schools today. In a nutshell, teachers sign-up for a free account and create quizzes at the Kahoot website. The quizzes are played live in the classroom when the teacher projects the quiz onto a classroom screen. Students go to on a laptop, Chromebook, tablet, or phone and they use that device to answer the quiz questions.  Kahoot adds a variety of music and sound possibilities that can really invoke Novelty and Variety if the app is not overused. Kahoot recently added a knew quiz type called Jumble that can add to the Novelty and Variety potential. In the past, Kahoot games were limited to multiple choice questions. Jumble allows the creation of questions based on proper sequencing. Teachers can, for example, create games that require sentence building and equation solving. In the video below, we demonstrate these features by playing the sample game from the Kahoot website.

Kahoot Jumble is a great addition to the Kahoot suite of games. Give it a try.

The Engagement People