Sixth-Grader Innovates Centuries-Old Sandbag Design

Peyton-RobertsonWe may have known about how sandbags help form a barricade to protect life and property from the ravages of floodwater.

However, sandbags are heavy and difficult to carry. Sixth-grader Peyton Robertson knew there must be a better way.

Peyton’s new innovative sandbag design is constructed without any sand, hence, much lighter. It is also easier to transport which proves to be an advantage especially during emergency.

Watch Peyton’s video here.

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20-Year Veteran Teacher Reinvents Her Classroom

ValynciaHawkinsA typical fifth-grade classroom contains all fifth-graders but not all fifth-graders have the same grade levels. Some learn fast while others need more time to grasp the teacher’s leassons. If the lessons move at the same pace for all these students, it is almost safe to say that not everyone will move forward.

Fifth-grade teacher Valyncia Hawkins knew something must be done. This allowed Hawkins to turn her English class into a blended learning classroom that caters to students of different learning levels. Her new style of teaching gives students a mix of technology and small group instructions. Students who move forward quicker with the lessons work independently on customized online resources on laptops...

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Cats and Math Story Problems

catexploreDo you have a math story problem? Here is a great way for you to publish your own math story problems. Math Cats is a children’s website that makes math fun for kids. The website contains word problems, crafts, stories, games and other online resources for kids to try.

Check out Math Cats now.

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The Benefits of Students Teaching Students Through Online Video

studentsvideoStudents nowadays are starting to reach out to other ways of learning outside the classroom. Video tutorials found online are a great example simply because they can capture a student’s attention. Interestingly, students are beginning to understand the power of video tutorials in helping other students understand classroom materials.

When students explain it and they have a way to make it extremely relevant to your life and show you how this actually relates to you specifically, that can make the material really exciting,” says Shilpa Yarlagadda, student and Club Academia co-founder.

Yarlagadda believes that students are capable of facing their own learning difficulty in school...

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Exploring the Idea of ‘Happiness’ As Part of School Work

happinessHappiness is such a simple concept but is rarely emphasized in school. Students in general love going to school because their friends are there making them happy but school work itself is making them unhappy.

This article introduces us to New Tech Network’s Global Happiness Project. The project is simply integrating factors that make a happy and healthy society into school work. More than 240 teachers across in 43 states and 11 countries are taking up that challenge. Teachers get creative in modifying their approach that better fit their curriculum while students begin to explore the idea of learning outside the classroom.

Find out more about this teaching technique from this Mind Shift post here.

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Essential Questions in Performance-Based Disciplines

Screen shot 2013-09-22 at 1.18.19 PMJust came from working with staff from Prosper ISD, Texas and was so proud of the thoughtful work to articulate the “big ideas” of their curriculum. Check out the Essential Questions that were developed by the K-12 Arts and Career Technical Education staff — all in a day’s work. These are the the conceptual through-lines and related essential questions within and across courses.


  • How do I express ideas, experiences, and emotions in my work?
  • What motivates me to keep creating? What do I do when I’m stuck?
  • What does this work make me see, hear, and/or think about?
  • How do I use other ideas to inspire my work?

  • If I know how to do it, why do I need to do it again?
  • When can I break the rules?
  • How do I get better at this technique?
  • How do I use technique to deve...
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Is Homework Helpful?

homeworkWith high demand for quality education, teachers are now diving deeper into their materials, requiring more reading and consequently, more homework. Giving students homework that involves practice and application is often said to “reinforce” the skills they’ve been taught in class.

Students usually get about 40-50 minutes of assignments per night, not including snack breaks and distractions inside the house. The question is, does giving homework really help students in their academic life? Take Finland for example. Their high school students are rarely given 30 minute homework each day in order for the students to engage in other creative activities. What is interesting is that they even score higher in international tests. So, what are we doing wrong?

To answer that, we need to step b...

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A Veteran Teacher Shadows 2 Students – A Sobering Lesson Learned


The life of students is full of potential and learning. Each day is filled with new discoveries, fresh ideas and creative thoughts. Well, supposedly.

This account of a veteran teacher shadowing a 10th grade and a 12th grade student for two days gives us a surprising glimpse of how students really are inside the classroom. She identified three realizations that the perfect classroom setting we have in mind is not at all perfect. The reality is that present classroom situations are exhausting. Students are exhausted. There are not enough avenues for inquisitive thinking. Teachers may often make their students feel like nuisance.

Teachers are not necessarily aware of these things. We have to remember that when students are worn out, they do not absorb the lessons well...

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Teachers Must Be Architects of Learning Experiences

teacher architectWe often refer to our roles as teachers today as “guides” or “teachers talk and students listen”. Unfortunately, this is a mindset that does not encourage curiosity and creativity among students.

Catlin Tucker, an English language arts teacher at the Windsor High School in Sonoma County, believes that teachers should view themselves as architects of learning. This analogy enables teachers to design lessons that encourage students to construct knowledge.

This is a good blog to read for teachers who wanted to take a step back and evaluate their methods of teaching. You can learn more about how teachers can be architects in the classroom here.

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Best Study Apps, Tools and Techniques

college-studentWith advances in technology, teachers and schools have changed the way they present information or give lessons. It has changed the way how teachers teach in class and how students learn theories. Technology has also dramatically changed the student study habits over the years.

When it comes to studying, technology can either be helpful or destructive. Having the coolest apps or the latest gadgets is not bad at all, however, if it is not used appropriately, technology can distract you from focusing on your studies. In a society where technology innovations are everywhere, we must be able to quickly identify those that are beneficial and aid study habits.

This post from lists some of the best apps that are worth investing on to help students increase productivity and motiva...

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