Author Archives: Daily Genius Staff


10 reasons to give up school textbooks

Does your school still rely on old-fashioned textbooks? Really Do you know how much they weight? How much they cost? Do they still, in this digital age, play an integral part of the learning process?
Sadly, it seems you still can’t escape textbooks so it’s important to grasp the key facts and figures about them. Answers to the above questions and more are available in this alarming but informative infographic. It sheds a bit of light on why, exactly, there’s a big push toward digital textbooks.
After all, should we really have students toting around 24 pounds of textbooks?

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The top 15 YouTube history channels for your classroom

There’s a preposterous amount of video uploaded to YouTube – around 300 hours worth of viewing are uploaded to the platform every minute. That’s a whole lot of content – and almost impossible to navigate. YouTube is so much more than cat videos and home-video selfie uploads. You’ll never find your way around the vast sea of content on offer, so we’re here to help. Here’s a quick starter guide to the best channels and videos to either use as raw material for flipped lessons; for homework or revision – or just something to put on the screen when you’ve lost the will to teach. From quick clips to biopics and full-on lessons, YouTube can bring your history lessons to life. 
Do you have any favorite videos you use in your history classroom? We’d love to hear what they are! Share your favorites with the Daily Genius community by leaving a comment below, visiting the Daily Genius Facebook page, or dropping us a note on Twitter.

The top 15 YouTube History Lessons

Learn History: This YouTube channel provides loads of videos on historical events related to crime and punishment and the American west.
Animated Bayeux Tapestry: Students learning about European history can watch this video which takes the Bayeux Tapestry and brings it to life.
Surviving the Holocaust: Teach students about the impact of the Holocaust by showing them how it impacted this individual.
Oliver Cromwell: Here you’ll find photos and text that tell about the life of Oliver Cromwell.
Horrible Histories History from the viewpoint of the people, rather than the Great and the Good. Done in a comic way in a series of themed sketches. From the BBC.
HipHughesHistory: Keith Hughes sees himself as a simplifier. On his channel, he  posts upbeat explainers, mostly on US History and Politics but span across World History and general interest
Elizabeth I: Let students learn about the history of England by watching this video presentation on Elizabeth I.
Gettysburg Reenactment: Bring the American Civil War to life by showing students this reenactment of a battle.
G. P. Grey Not even clear who CGP Grey is, but this is a very nice set of explainers of complex things. Often starts with history, but branches out.
The Assassination of JFK: This famous video is a huge part of American history, and you can let students watch it via YouTube.
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Classes studying modern history can learn about the impact of the fall of the Berlin Wall through this news report.
Crash Course – US history: A playlist, aggregating the history of the USA in 47 episodes.
Crash Course – World history: Another playlist, curated by the same gentleman (John Green) who put together the playlist on US history that we mentioned above. This time: same idea, with a wider brief. The clue is in the title – the only question is why it takes 47 episodes to do the US, while the whole of the rest of the world can be done in 42.
How to Make a Mummy: Created by teachers, this animated video shows how the ancient Egyptians created their mummies.
A Brief History of Mankind: This video sums up the history of mankind in just a few minutes, making it a good intro to history classes.

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Does Technology Make a Difference in Classrooms?

There’s always a lot of talk about bringing technology into classrooms to enhance student learning outcomes and improve their experience. There’s talk of the cost of devices, and access to high speed internet, and training both students and teachers on how to use their hardware and software. There’s even plenty of discussion on the best ways to use technology, and more importantly, how NOT to use it, too.
The handy infographic below takes a look at the broader picture of how technology is transforming classrooms and homework for students and teachers. From the benefits to teachers to helping flipped classrooms work, take a gander at the graphic below for some interesting facts and statistics. Moreover, we want to know: how does technology make an impact for your students? Leave a note in the comments below, connect with us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or add us on Google+.

Does Technology Make a Difference in Classrooms?

It does! Keep scrolling for some interesting statistics:

  • As of 2009, the nationwide ratio of students to computers is 5.3 to 1
  • Teachers use technology to:
    • Reinforce and expand on content
    • Motivate students to learn
    • Respond to a variety of learning styles
    • Demonstrate things they would have a difficult time explaining in another way
    • Online lesson planning
    • Give students access to educational games and activities online
  • Many students use mobile phones to help them complete assignments – they aren’t just for texting!
  • It gives students the opportunity to share their work with a wider audience
  • It encourages creativity and expression, as well as increased collaboration among students
  • By the end of 2015, 45 states will be administering texts via electronic devices
  • Interactive e-books, homework reminders, and not having physical paper to lose helps students get their work done seamlessly
  • Flipped classrooms offer improved learning outcomes for many schools that have put it into practice
  • Technology allows for the integration of things students find ‘fun’ (like social media or games) into learning based activities, helping them to be more engaged in their learning process.

Featured image via Flickr

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Ending the Classroom Factory Model: How Technology Will Personalize Education

The old model of education was built around the factory model – this will change, with the only question left being when this will happen, and what will drive it.
“With the opportunity of online learning coming on,…what we talk about is shifting from this factory model system to a student-centered one that personalizes for each and every child,” says Michael Horn, co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute in an interview with Reason magazine Managing Editor Katherine Mangu-Ward.
Horn believes that customizing education to each student’s individual needs is key for both motivation and learning. “One of the big reasons that school is so boring, quite frankly, is that we all have different learning needs at different times—different things turn us on,” he states. A student struggling with fundamental skills should not be reading Shakespeare, Horn explains, but instead should be put in a blended environment that uses software to improve basic literacy before moving the student into a small group discussion with a teacher.
Blended learning environments can also avoid constraining students with diverse talents or interests. As Horn declares, “The reality with online learning is you can learn from anyone, anywhere, and you can get great, talented courses and teachers to come into your classroom, in effect, even if they live across the world.” He notes that it is important to give students greater educational choice as they progress to higher grade levels so that they take charge of their own learning moving forward.
In the interview, Horn describes how blended learning can create a game-based classroom environment that encourages students to help each other achieve educational goals. He also discusses how, as education moves beyond traditional institutions, credentialing will have to evolve, assessments will have to become more organic, and regulations will have to become outcome-based.

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Why you should share your best education ideas

Your ideas might seem obvious to you – they may, in fact, seem so mundance that you may not think it worthy of sharing. In fact, this may happen to you every day: you come up with an idea but then think ‘well I’m sure everyone else already know this” so you don’t mention your creative idea to anyone. That’s a problem.
The explosion of social networks has led to more sharing than ever before. It’s not always the best and most insightful content…but just about everything online can now be passed on to others. And that is a good thing. That little shaft of an idea that you share, that small insignificant insight can make a big difference to someone else. And if that person is a teacher, and that leads to an inspirational lesson – who knows what seeds have been planted in young minds?
Use this video from Derek Sivers as an inspiration to share your thoughts, ideas, problems and just about anything else. After all, what’s obvious to you is probably not to others. But it can be. And if you need a platform to share it on, we strongly suggest you try this
Picture from Unsplash

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Can you drink coffee at night?

We’ve all been there: It’s getting late, there are a ton of essays to grade and you still need to plan for tomorrow. There’s reading to be done, you want to check out what’s going on over on #edchat on Twitter, and don’t forget about all that ‘other stuff’ that you’ve been putting off (who really needs their laundry folded anyway?).
But before you reach for that cup of coffee to get you through the evening, take a quick pause. Have you ever wondered what slugging down that caffeine at nighttime really does to your body? The handy infographic below takes a look at how much caffeine messes with your circadian clock.
So if we were going to prescribe to the education=change way of thinking, we’d be forced to assume that you’d see that coffee screws with your circadian clock, and not drink it at night. But we all know that isn’t going to happen in every case, so we’re all about mitigating the consequences: How MUCH coffee can you drink at night before you’re going to be up all night.

Can You Drink Coffee At Night?

The short answer is: yes, you can probably drink coffee at night, within reason.
Two shots of espresso move the clock about 45 minutes.
But a bright light moves the clock about 85 minutes!
Together, a bright light and 2 shots of espresso move the clock about 105 minutes!
When you’re sitting up at night, staring at your computer with the lights on and drinking coffee, you’re probably right that you’re feeling pretty darned….awake. Many studies have shown that the blue light from computer screens are especially disruptive to your sleep.
So if you’re probably going to need some coffee to get you through your evening of diligent work and accomplishing things, maybe you should just drink your coffee in the dark.
can you drink coffee at night
Featured image via Flickr

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7 Free webinars that will boost your edtech skills

Professional Development doesn’t have to mean sitting in a room with other teachers from your school and listening to whatever the administration has prescribed for you. There are tons of different options, whether you elect to participate in a large scale professional development program, attend a conference, or do something a little more self directed via your own research, tools you already use, and some good old social media tools.

But if heading out to a conference isn’t in the budget or the timeline, but you’re not sure where to start on the self-directed route, you still have options. There are a ton of awesome free webinars out there that you can participate in from the comfort of your own home (or school, coffee shop, etc). Even though December is a crazy busy month for many people, you can still take an hour here or there and delve into some awesome ideas that will help you in your classroom. Head back into school the following day, or figure out over winter break how you want to implement the things you learn, the choice is yours.

There are TONS of other options out there – way too many to list, in fact. But we’ve put together a short list of 7 free webinars coming your way this December that we thought sounded particularly interesting and relevant. Put them on your calendar and check them out!

7 Free EdTech Webinars Coming in December

1 – December 2nd – 3:00pm EST: Creating Student-Centric Learning Environment, Beth Holland interviews the leaders of the iPad Academy in Nebraska. Sign up here.

2 – December 3rd – 1:00pm EST:  Tips for Transforming Your Classroom into a Personalized Learning Environment, with Don Goble, Michelle Spencer, and John Sessler. Sign up here.

3 – December 7th, 4:00pm EST: Using eBooks, Databases, and Digital Tools to Keep Students Engaged During the Holidays, with Michelle Griffith. Sign up here.

4 – December 7th –  6:30pm EST: Blended Learning with OneNote Classroom Creator with Beth Holland, Jen Carey, & Kim Evelti. Sign up here.

5 – December 9th – 4 pm EST: Celebrate Hour of Code Week- Learn to Code through Storytelling with Kate Wilson andMaggie KeelerSign up here.

6 – December 15th – 2pm EST: How to Save Money and Improve Collaboration With Google for Education, with Donna Frymire, Anthony Panella, and Stephen Fang. Sign up here.

7 – December 17th – 5pm EST – Digital Portfolios with Beth Holland and EdWeb. Sign up here.

Featured image via Flickr

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What's the formula for success for Finland's schools?

We’ve talked before on these pages about the success of Finland’s schools and what it is that gives them their (almost) mythical success.
The pupils start their school career later and seem to cruise through it with minimal effort and testing, and yet, every time those PISA results come through, there they are, bumping along at the top, delivering far better ‘value’ than the US, for example, manages.
So here’s another attempt to explain, this time from the Pearson Foundation which, in another attempt to find the magic formula, pinpoints early intervention and sustained individual support for every student as the keys to educating the ‘whole child’ in Finnish schools.

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Can you name the books with these 16 inspirational quotes?

Sometimes, you need a little pick me up, some inspiration for the day. You know what I mean – the kind that isn’t coffee(!). The kind that bring you little reminders of the important things in life, the fact that things aren’t so bad, that the best roads are not always easy, and that we are not alone in the world. We all need a little inspiration now and again, and the handy infographic below draws inspiration from 16 different children’s books.
There are so many great children’s books out there, we know there are others. Will you share your favorites with the Daily Genius community? Leave a note in the comments below, connect with us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or add us on Google+.

16 Inspirational Quotes from Children’s Books

  • Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. (The Cat in The Hat, Dr. Seuss).
  • If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely. (The Twits, Roald Dahl).
  • No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. (The Lion and The Mouse, Aesop).
  • Promise me you’ll remember: You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think. (Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne).
  • It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; What is essential is invisible to the eye. (The Little Prince, Antoine St. Exupery).
  • In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and ‘snap’, the job’s a game! (Mary Poppins, EL Travers).
  • I don’t know what lies around the bend, but I’m going to believe the best does. (Anne of Green Gables, LM Montgomery).
  • It is our choices, Harry, that show us what we truly are, far more than our abilities. (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, JK Rowling).
  • If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden. (The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett).
  • I am your parent; You are my child. I am your quiet place; You are my wild. I am your lullaby; You are my peekaboo. I am your goodnight kiss; You are my I love you. (You are my I love you, Maryann K Cusimano).
  • But all the magic I have known, I’ve had to make myself. (Where The Sidewalk Ends, Shel Silverstein).
  • Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive, who is youer than you. (Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss).
  • Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who do not believe in magic will never find it. (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl).
  • Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast! (Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll).
  • Inside all of us is hope. Inside all of us is fear. Inside all of us is adventure. Inside all of us is a wild thing. (Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak).
  • I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning to sail my ship. (Little Women, Louisa May Alcott).


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Should you drink coffee right now?

You guys probably know by know that I love a good flowchart (both the serious ones and those of the more facetious variety….and the handful that are in between). The handy flowchart below will help you to answer the age old question: Should I drink coffee right now? Let’s be real though, it’s Friday morning, so the answer is probably yes!

Should You Drink Coffee Right Now?

Important questions to ask:

  • Are you asleep?
  • Are you locked in a dungeon?
  • Has coffee been declared illegal where you live?
  • Did you eat a bran muffin and are now stuck in traffic?

If you answered no to all the questions, go forth and drink! Now!

Oh, and Happy Friday!

Featured Image via Flickr

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