Taylor-Made Learning

Taylor-Made Learning

Our blog today is contributed by guest blogger, Dr. Jim Arnold. Enjoy this great account of one districts determination to create community based accountability.

Book Creator for Chrome

Book Creator for Chrome

iPad users have long been familiar with the Book Creator app. With the proliferation of Chromebooks in schools, the app has now come to Chrome.

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.
EDpuzzle - Allows you to import video, trim it, add questions, comments, etc.
Storybird - Collaborative storytelling. Match stories with artwork. Students can join a class without divulging personal info. Book Creator for Chrome isa  new version of the Book Creator app for laptops using Chrome. Students can create comics and books here.
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!