Friday Round-up 6/1/2012

Food Trucks Draw Hungry Kids For Free Summer Meals
In many areas of the country, students depend on free and reduced school lunches as a main food source in their lives. However, as a the school year comes to an end many of these students are unable to find transportation to attend the summer food programs, often still offered in their school cafeteria. Last year, Tim Cipriano, the executive director of school food services for New Haven, CT, decided that instead of having students come to a certain location for food, he would bring the food to them driving a colorful food truck to areas with a high population of students qualifying for free and reduced meals. Last summer he served 17,000 meals in 20 days. This year he hopes to provide 40,000 meals for the months of July and August.
Social Media: Help or Hindrance to Education Reform?
There are many issues that comprise the topic of Education Reform. One of these is the importance of Social Media as a learning tool for educators and students. However, some wonder if this focus on Social Media is actually distracting teachers and reformers from other, more pressing issues. Tom Whitby, a support of Social Media in education, explains why he believes that Social Media can actually be a powerful tool to improve Personal Learning Networks for educators. One point that stuck with me: Historically teaching has been an isolated profession, any problems or successes you experienced could only be shared with co-workers in your school or district. With Social Media educators from around the globe can come together both online and in person to discuss what they’ve learned, and that is a powerful thing.

Schools to track students’ whereabouts with computer chips

Starting next fall a school district in San Antonio, TX  will be issuing student ID cards containing a tracking chip device. This chip monitors students on school grounds and notifies the school if a student leaves during school hours. The district advertised the initiative to parents as a safety procedure, however the decision is getting mixed reviews, one large concern being students’ right to privacy. The school will spend $500,000 to issue cards to 6,000 middle and high school students.

Summers Are For Learning
Remember, summers are a great time to learn something new, for both students and teachers! If you think you may be interested in reading, joining a book club, kickstarting your creative process, leaning to code or serving others through community service this summer, this article has a list of some fantastic resources you can use to get started with self-learning this summer!


Summer Reading Conversation on June 7th

On June 7th the New York Times Learning Network is hosting a twitter conversation about Summer Reading. This is open to people of all ages to share what’s on their sumer reading list and recommendations for others! Simply share your thoughts about summer reading on twitter and finish off the tweet with the hashtag #summerreading . This will add your tweet to the all day conversation. The NY Times Learning network will be sharing their favorite tweets throughout the day.

To take this one step further for our ShowMe Community we’d like you to create summer reading ShowMes, upload them, and tweet them out to the conversation! After you upload a ShowMe to the website you will see the option to share on twitter. Select this option and then just remember to add #summerreading to the tweet and send it off! We will also be sharing our favorite ShowMes throughout the day.

If you know someone who would be interested in participating, let them know! I hope this can be a fun way to interact with Summer Reading in your classrooms or by yourself.

For more information about twitter chats, read this helpful guide by the NY Times.

For more information or questions send us a tweet @showmeapp or email us at


Friday Round Up 5/25/12

Happy Memorial Day weekend to all that celebrate!

On June 7, Join the Conversation About Summer Reading
On June 7th the NY Times Learning Network is hosting a day long twitter conversation to kick off their Third Annual Summer Reading Contest which begins June 15th and runs till August 17th. On June 7th people will come together in a twitter chat with the hashtag #summerreading to share information. You can tweet your summer reading list, great suggestions for others, best places to read or ideas for starting your own book club! The learning network will be reposting their favorite tweets throughout the day. We will be participating in the day, so expect an update soon on how we plan to get involved!

Google’s 80/20 Principle Adopted at New Jersey School
Fifty-five teachers from New Milford High School in New Jersey were given a break from their typical lunch and hall monitor duties 2-3 times per week to make room for a 48 minute professional development period where they could focus on teaching related issues that interested them. (Based on the Google model which gives employees 20% of their time to pursue company related topics that interest them.) Teachers have focused on interdisciplinary projects, differentiated assessment and ways to integrate technology into their curriculums. The results have been fantastic. Student behavior has remained the same, yet teachers now have the opportunity to record videos to attempted a flipped classroom and integrated more technology into their daily student lessons. At the end of the year teachers are required to hand in professional development logs where they report the topics the studied and how it enhanced their learning. Next year they will even begin to create portfolios on what they’ve accomplished.

The Most Honest Commencement Speech You’ll Never Hear
Lisa Bloom starts this article by sharing the grim reality that many of our college graduates have diminished expectations for their future as they graduate debt-ridden with high unemployment rates. (43% of high school females would rather be a celebrity assistant than a CEO or college president) Many students year for jobs, independence and adulthood, yet they are forced to move back home with parents often working jobs outside of their chose field much below their chosen salary rate. At the end Bloom gives her own version of a commencement speech, apologizing for her generation, which she believes has failed recent graduates by not providing low cost education and jobs after graduation.

Eight Free Tools for Teachers to Make Awesome Infographics!
I love infographics! (You can check out our own infographic pinterest board here)  Recently it has become very easy to make high quality infographics of your own, so check out this great article if you’re interested in making one of your own!


The New Community Forum!

We are excited to announce we now have a Community Forum for our users! We hope this can become a valuable place for community members to share ideas and help support each other as we use ShowMe!

On the Forum we hope to :

  • Discuss Feedback and Improvement for our App and Website
  • Share different ways that you’ve used ShowMe in the past
  • Brainstorm different ideas for using ShowMe with others
  • Support those experiencing difficulties
  • Report bugs or problems with our app or website
  • Anything else you’d like to share!
We hope to see you there 🙂

ShowMe of the Week: Greenhouse Effect

Thanks to Sharon Churchwell for this fantastic ShowMe! It provides a comprehensive overview of how we get carbon dioxide and methane gas into our atmosphere and how they help warm our planet. This also explains (as the title claims) the greenhouse effect and the concept of global warming!


Friday Round Up 5/18/2012

It’s a beautiful day in New York and it should be a nice weekend as well. I hope everyone else is experiencing good weather for the weekend!

Is the Master’s Degree the New Bachelor’s Degree?
This article highlights how many careers that previously required only a bachelors degree are now seeking out applicants that have an MA as well. Why is this? Some believe that with so many students going to undergraduate school we now have a “glut” of what were previously thought to be qualified workers. One can debate, does an increase employees holding a Master’s Degree mean that we now have a more competitive workforce, or instead, that the undergraduate degree has become “dumbed down”? Another issue to consider is the fact that the average MA student has a debt of $30,000 by the time they receive their degree.

Degrees of Debt: A Generation Hobbled by the Soaring Cost of College
Speaking of debt, last Friday the New York Times published an interesting and comprehensive series that explores the experiences of recent college undergraduates faced with student loan debt. I found the most interesting part to be the interactive graphic showing the rapid increase in college tuitions and student loans since 2004.

A Focus on Brain Development, Relationships Pays Off
This article shares studies done by Dr. Charles Zeneah, who collaborated on Neurons and Neighborhoods, a seminal book that studies the importance of a mothering figure for the development of an infants brain function. An infant actually needs to be “the apple of someones eye” in order to develop the healthiest form of brain function. The study uses a 15 month old infant, pseudo-named “Harold” who is put into an overcrowded home with a busy foster mother. He is unresponsive to most interactions and only moves at a slow crawl. At 18 months old Harlod had been put into a new foster home with a caring foster mother for only 6 weeks. In that short time he began to verbalize, walk and smile. Good mothering (by father, mother or another loving figure) can reduce the population of people in special education programs and even prison. I found this article incredibly fascinating.

A Way Up for Women in Business
Different MBA programs across the globe are working to mentor women to apply, complete and succeed after business school through women lead support networks. The Rotterdam School of Management offers an intense Mount Kilimanjaro MBA leadership course for women only, designed to help bring female leaders to learn and rely on one another as they hike rigorously for 9 days. The Fordham Graduate School of Business informally pairs female applicants to follow a female MBA student from a similar background on a day of classes. The Global Society of Women in Business provides links to all different resources and services for women looking for mentoring or partnerships in business. The GMAT entrance test estimated that 34% of their 2011 global applicants to a 1 year full time MBA program were female. Hopefully we will begin to see an increase in incoming years.


Friday Round Up 5/11/12

Are We Wringing the Creativity Out of Kids?
In the process of writing his new book, Imagine: How Creativity Works Jonah Lehrer has discovered that many children lose their playful sense of creativity as they get older, specifically between the ages of 3rd-5th grade. Lehrer believes this is partially because our students are deemed valuable based on their ability to sit quietly in class, when in actuality, students who have distraction problems in school have a higher chance of becoming “eminent creative achievers.” Lehrer discusses the importance of giving our children a large menu of creative opportunities, and allowing them to select what they enjoy. Once they’ve found something they love it is up to adults to help them pursue these creative interests and encourage them to work hard and persevere to achieve greater goals in these areas.

The Global Search for Education: In Search of Professionals
This article interviews Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. She shares her insight on what she hopes the next generation of teachers could look like, discussing her experiences and the importance of combating teacher attrition rates. In addition she focuses on the importance of respecting teachers, improving teacher training courses and providing development and support once teachers are on the job. She highlights how we must stop training our teachers in the education programs from 20 and 30 years ago, and focus on teaching for todays students.

A Great Reason for Appreciating High School Teachers
This week in National Teacher Appreciation week! Bob Lenz, the Chief Education Officers of Envision Schools in California, shares his first hand experience on how hard many high school teachers in the country work every school week; putting in an average of 70 hours of work after you calculate teaching time, staff development, lesson planning and grading. Today, as our education system is struggling, much blame is put on the shoulders of our teachers. Lenz believes that instead devoting our efforts to eliminating “bad” teachers, we should support our educators and provide them with the professional working conditions they need to thrive. It is also our responsibility to tell our policy makers that we need to create a system in this country where teaching is a valued as other high prestige career fields, such as doctors, so the most talented and dedicated individuals move towards the industry.

Be careful when comforting struggling students
This recent British study found that teachers who believed students have fixed ability levels in math were more likely to make prematures ability-based excuses for underperformance. These students also performed at a lower level on assessment (compared with students of teachers that believe math ability can be malleable) when their teachers attempted to comfort the students with comments such as “you are very talented overall, but some people just have difficulties in math.” While it may seem painful to see a student struggle in a subject, even teachers with best intentions can actually harm students when they attempt to comfort them by claiming their struggles are due to an inability to succeed at a higher level.


Our Awesome Educator Community!

This weekend Kika and I attended edcampNYC. Edcamp, described as an “unconference”, is free and put together entirely by educators in different cities throughout the United States. This was my first edcamp and I really enjoyed the comfortable, supportive atmosphere. All attendees are invited to host workshops. It was acceptable to switch between workshops halfway through if you felt the need. When I met new people many asked “what do you teach?” as opposed to “what do you do?” How cool is it that this was the instinctive question to ask?

The teacher centered atmosphere made me think back to the Tom Whitby post I shared in the round up on Friday, titled Vendors: Villains or Visionaries? In it he discusses reservations that educators have with workshops run by vendors. I don’t consider myself a vendor, but of course I’m not a teacher and I do work for ShowMe, so this article provided some valuable insight. One point he makes really stuck with me “It has been my experience that the industry looks to recruit teachers whenever possible, so that their personnel do have classroom experience. Unfortunately, I think it takes about a year out of the classroom however, before credibility as a teacher is diminished if not wiped out altogether.”

I went to school for teaching and as a student teacher last year I was given full responsibility of my cooperating teachers’ classes and students. Regardless, I’m not in the classroom now, and because of that I can’t fully understand what is going on. We can’t learn what teachers and students find valuable unless we speak to them ourselves. That is why we so value the relationships we have with our teacher and student users. They are our gateway into what is actually going on in the classroom. This is also why I enjoyed edcamp and why you didn’t see any ShowMe workshops being offered. Although we’re always happy to host workshops, we were there to learn and build relationships.

In the past two months I have learned so much from the educators I speak to, either at conferences, over the phone or during school visits. Some teachers are doing amazing things in their classroom using ShowMe and other forms of educational technology. You’ve seen the posts our ambassadors share on this blog, great ideas that they’ve discovered themselves to make ShowMe a powerful tool. When we talk to other community members we like to share things that students and educators have done/do with ShowMe, not what they could do.

I may not be in the classroom this year, but I am thankful that we have so many active users that take the time to reach out to us, meet with us, and share their classroom insight and experiences. They are the reason ShowMe can be a valuable and relavant tool!


Friday Round Up 5/4/2012

Happy May! We hope to see some of you at EdCamp NYC tomorrow 🙂

In Crown Heights, Getting Past Stereotypes Through Learning
Fours girls from the High School for Global Citizenship in Crown Heights, Brooklyn recently participated in a WNYC radio reporting workshop in partnership with Facing History and Ourselves. These four girls are all immigrants from the Caribbean, and until recently had no knowledge of the Crown Heights riot of 1991, the climax of long existing tensions between the black communies and the Lubavitch Jewish communities in Crown Heights. This tension still exists today, and these girls as recent immigrants had heard rumors about the Jewish community which made them wary. After doing some deep investigation and speaking to Lubavitch Jews themselves, the girls learned that the Jewish community valued its privacy, but the hurtful rumors they had heard were unjust. I love this video for a number of reasons, it is great to see students put in effort to learn about different members of their community, and I enjoyed watching these girls become so engaged in learning.

EdX: A Platform for More MOOCs and an Opportunity for More Research about Teaching and Learning Online
In a joint press conference on Wednesday, Harvard University president Drew Faust and MIT president Susan Hockfield announced the new nonprofit partnership between the two universities called edX. Together they will provide free, open, online courses and the opportunity to receive an online certification (but not college credit) after completion of the course. If these courses are successful it could be a “game changer” in the higher education field, with the top tier universities now offering free online courses.

Vendors: Villains or Visionaries?
I found this article especially interesting since ShowMe is an education company and I am not currently a teacher. Tom Whitby discusses how many educators feel about the education product vendors that appear at almost all education conferences. He explains that many educators don’t enjoy vendor directed workshops. The vendors may be experts on their product, but they are not experts on the classroom and there can be an visible disconnect. In addition, some educators are still quit hesitant to embrace technology, especially with the increased rumors that the tools could eventually replace teachers. I found it to be an interesting perspective and good to keep in mind. What is your opinion on education product vendors attending conferences and workshops?

It’s Time To Crowdsource Your School’s Social Media Policy
Instead of having every school district across the country create their own private social media policy, why not create a crowdsourced policy with input from the dedicated teachers already using social media as a valuable education tool in education. This policy can then be shared with administrators across the world. It also aims to be more than a list of rules and demands, but also a resource for best practices in social media and helpful tools for teachers. You can take part in creating the policy now, Edudemic has created a live google doc that can be edited here.