Tag Archives: featured

Health Work

Learning to look up again – controlling your smartphone addiction

Why do our mobile virtual homes take precedence over our real physical homes? Does our obsessive behaviour make us less interactive and engaging with real people? Are we becoming less human and morphing into ‘smombies’ (smartphone zombies)? And if so, what can we do about it to break our habits, change our behaviour and instead of spending our time looking down bathed in the reflective glare of our 5 inch screens learn to look up again?

Ross Sleight has been involved in digital media for over 20 years. He’s founded four award-winning digital agencies, was a founder of Virgin Games and today is the Chief Strategy Officer for Somo – an accelerator that delivers rapid, actionable innovation for its global clients. Here he explores both the personal and social impact of our addictive smartphone use.

Can you really ban smartphones from schools (and is it a good idea anyway) ?

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How to Design Your Own MakerSpaces

What are MakerSpaces? Makers build, fix, and create. They are students, teachers, tinkerers, cooks, technology buffs, architects, crafters, performers, hobbyists, builders, artists, engineers, scientists, and writers. They use the MakerSpace to solve real life problems with access to tools and materials.
A MakerSpace is not confined to a school setting but can also be a community space like a public library where community members off all ages, means, and abilities can design, prototype, and create original works. On March 18th and 19th, we celebrated New Jersey Makers Day, and I had the opportunity to visit a number of different Maker events in various communities.
These are some themes and big ideas that I noticed in my travels. Perhaps these big ideas will inspire you to create your own MakerSpace makeover in your own classroom, school, or local community.
Stakeholders from Office Depot, Toms River BOE Members, and School Superintendent Dave Healy cut the ribbon to invite the press into their new “innovation station” MakerSpace

Big Idea #1 – MakerSpaces that Mix 21st and 20th Century Tools

On the first day of March Maker Madness, I witnessed the makeover of a traditional industrial shop class into a 21st Century MakerSpace. The students were still sitting at the big shop tables when I saw them on an eight-way Google Hangout, but they were not sawing wood or soldering electrical connectors.
These high school students had taken a Makey Makey kit and used it to create their own version of the board game Operation so that they were demonstrating an understanding of circuitry by using 21st Century learning materials. On the second day of March Maker Madness, I traveled to a ribbon cutting ceremony at a middle school near my home which was announcing the debut of their new innovation station – a mixture of the tools you would expect to see in your old shop class with new gear and gadgets like 3 Printers and musical circuits.
The theme of giving a 21st Century MakerSpace makeovers to a traditional “shop” classroom is illustrated in these two photographs. The Toms River School District was fortunate enough to get funding from Office Depot to help them redesign their traditional industrial classroom. You can see that traditional pieces of equipment like the drill press are still available for student use.
However, they are also complemented by STEM projects like these Lego ones shown in the same workspace which embrace curriculum themes like planning, teamwork, and designing.

Big Idea #2 – Keep Many Hands Busy With Maker/Building Challenges

At my own school, the A. Harry Moore School of New Jersey City University, we celebrated Maker Day with a building contest. Ms. Holzman, our building level STEM expert, brought a Straw and Connectors kit with 705 building pieces. We brought the classes into the auditorium 4 or 5 at a time. The classes were given the following design task: they were each given 15 minutes to build a really tall tower. Each team was given the same number of straws and connectors.
When the building time was up the classes were judged on two things. First, the towers were measured and we gave a prize to the tallest tower. Also we gave a prize for the most creative tower design in each session. Every child in the school was also awarded a Certificate of Achievement for their participation in the Straw Tower Maker Day Event.

Big Idea #3: Invasion and “Makeover” of the Local Library

Another stop I made on my March Maker Madness Tour was a visit to the opening of a Maker space that was set up in the back room of a nearby local library in Ocean Township, New Jersey. The goal of this event was to promote the role of the library in supporting Maker spaces and the Maker culture. Makerspaces are connected to the core values of the American Library Association such as providing access to information and promoting lifelong learning and social responsibility. During my visit to the local library, I got to support some amazing activities.
When I arrived at the library, the children were using light emitting diodes to create a series of projects. Another great activity at the library was that the children were told that we had to prepare for the zombie apocalypse: this was fun because it allowed children to use their imagination and apply it to the construction of a hands on task. Next they were given an authentic construction task and the tools to complete it. They were given a variety of tools and materials like rolls of cardboards, popsicle sticks, and masking tape. They were challenged to make towns that would be a safe haven from the zombies.
See below to view all of the safe havens that these children created during their Maker Day afternoon at their local library.

Big Idea #4 Make It STEAMY

Another big trend that I noticed in my March Maker travels was the not just the STEM principles of science, math, engineering and technology into the MakerSpaces and adventures, but the important inclusion of music and art into the project-based challenges. When I visited Innovation Station, the newly reformed MakerSpace in Toms River, NJ, I was really impressed with the collection of instruments that the students had made as art projects. Student-designed conga drums and a saxophone were hooked up to Chromebooks in the MakerSpace thanks to the Makey Makey program. It was apparent that students in this class had the artistic skills to build instruments as well as the engineering skills to understand circuitry because when I put my finger on the saxophone/circuit, music was made. Also, later on in the day I witnessed an eight year old and his mom teach themselves how to play Mary Had a Little Lamb with a Makey Makey kit, Chromebook, banana, orange, apple, and an extra serving of innovative spirit.
MakerSpace music can be made when art, science, and engineering are integrated elegantly in challenges that are steeped in real life context.
I enjoyed my journey through all of the different MakerSpaces that I experienced during March Maker Madness. Hopefully, these big ideas will inspire others to find a MakerSpace to makeover in their own hometown.

Come join us this summer to learn more about Maker Spaces! ettsummer.org/maker


Featured image via Flickr

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How close are we to the digital classroom of the future?

The conversation surrounding the ‘digital classroom’ of the future is consistently evolving as technological advances perpetually occur – seemingly at a faster rate than ever before. We no longer have to designate a space in your building/house nor buy the devices with extra capacity to store all the information, we now have virtual data room which is great for document sharing needed in a classroom.
However, the way in which these technological developments are integrated into learning environments has wide-reaching consequences. To safeguard future economic prosperity, the US has to ensure that its curriculum helps students develop the skills that they need. If it doesn‘t, the US may well find itself lagging behind other forward-thinking countries and their digitally-powered economies. Here, we discuss two key themes that look set to shape and drive digital education over the coming year.
Gamification is, fundamentally, applying game-like principles to a system in order to drive its interaction level and appeal to those using it – a high-scoring league for spelling tests being an incredibly basic example of this. However, with devices such as interactive white boards, tablets and even virtual reality becoming omnipresent in the classroom, there is currently no ceiling to how far gamification can be implemented.
The power of gamification is in its ability to provide context and repercussion to a student’s understanding and knowledge. They don’t see the data as an abstract “thing” held on a hard drive somewhere, but as a meaningful concept which can be relayed and used to enable change. Giving students such context gives them another opportunity to improve retention and comprehension rates.
However, the most apparent issue with gamification is, like with most technological advances, its correct implementation – if the game is too abstract then the knowledge becomes secondary to the game, yet if it isn’t streamlined then the game can take up too much time, or can prove too costly in some areas of education. It’s important to remember that gamification is an addition to the classroom – good teachers are needed to drive it as a concept and ensure that it delivers the results it has the ability too. Moreover, teachers must be equipped with the right skills to deliver such additions to the curriculum.
One only needs to look to companies such as Graphite and Playful Learning, who are both leading the gamification charge. Estimates show to the gamification field is projected to grow to over $5.5 billion across the globe in 2018, with the US ahead of the curve with innovating and developing new ideas. Undoubtedly, knowledge sharing between the US and the UK will be key to gamification’s continued success and further adoption in classrooms.
Device mesh
The device mesh refers to the rapidly expanding ways in which people access applications and information, as well as communicate with each other across the internet on both a personal and organizational level. Initially encompassing technology such as smartphones and computers, the last few years has seen a rise in wearables, tablets, sensor systems and even cars with technological features.
It is predicted that the interaction – or mesh – of these devices is set to become more and more interconnected as both the amount and the ability of these devices continues to expand. This is vital, as in modern technology there is a real emphasis on instant connectivity; an ability to access information as quick as needed and wherever you so happen to request it. Currently, specific environments such as schools and places of work are at the top of the food chain for the device mesh, but increasingly people also want to access their information from at home or whilst on the move.
The idea of this web of connected devices has a chance, when implemented correctly, to really change education and the way in which we access education resources and associated materials. A fully integrated future will have a student’s work cloud saved and accessible across all of their internet enabled devices, allowing them to learn in whichever way best works for them and at times where previously their work wouldn’t be accessible. The device mesh will demand careful management as it moves forward to being a fully realized premise, with data accessibility and security key components to be managed. The use of technology is becoming widespread in education, from tablets and interactive whiteboards in the classroom to Chromebooks and cloud storage access for homework, so early signs that the device mesh may well become reality in the classroom are encouraging.
Implementation is the key
Gamification and the device mesh are just two of the current crop of technology-based trends that are being adopted in educational environments, across the breadth of the industry. But the technology is only half of the debate: for it to be fully successful, we also need to make sure that technology’s impact on learning is positive and measurable. It isn’t enough that people are now taking science lessons in virtual reality – this must have a concrete impact on retention comprehension and the transfer of this knowledge to skills in employment. Furthermore, there is little point in being taught a subject through hi-tech wearables only to be tested on it with a two- hour written exam using a biro. In order to make sure that the technology has the necessary positive impact on students, then the curriculum and testing needs to move forward and compliment how they are being taught.
It’s clear that not all technology adoption will be instantaneous, or work at all, so this shift in classroom culture will have to be a deliberate and careful process. But as long as technology is carefully implemented, deployed and monitored in a method that enhances the expertise of skilled teachers and curriculum, then the fascinating notion of the digital classroom can’t be too far in the future.
Lynsey Jenkins is VP for Marketing at LapCabby.

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Tips for Using Google Apps for Education to Create Digital Portfolios

Google Apps for Education is a wonderful, collaborative program that allows students to create, collect, and curate artifacts of learning. While there is a wide variety of programs that can be used to create digital portfolios, here are four ways that the GAFE suite of programs can facilitate digital portfolio creation.

What is A Digital Portfolio?

A digital portfolio is a collection of artifacts of learning that demonstrate growth, acquisition of skills or knowledge, and student creativity over time. Too often, the focus lies more on gathering lots of content in a single location and publishing to the web. We want to think about it as more of a 4 step process designed to encourage deeper thinking and reflection.


First, students and teachers need to collect artifacts that demonstrate student learning. One of the potential challenges that teachers face when creating digital portfolios is that not all artifacts of learning experiences are digital. However with today’s technology, this challenge can easily be overcome. Utilizing a scanner or digital camera, teachers and students can transform any physical item into a digital artifact. Not only does this process facilitate the digital portfolio creation, but it is also a wonderful way to lessen the storage burden and create organizational opportunities. Those newly digitized artifacts as well as artifacts that are already digital can easily be collected and organized in a Google Drive folder.


Through the digital portfolio creation process, students and teachers need to make decisions about which artifacts they will include in their portfolios. Questions to ask might include:

  • Does this artifact demonstrate growth?
  • What was the intended learning objective for this project?
  • Is this an example of my best work?
  • Is this an example of work that demonstrates growth?
  • What is the intended purpose of the portfolio?
  • Are we creating showcase or process portfolios?

Going through the curation process will help to ensure that the artifacts gathered are representative of student work that achieves the intended objective of the portfolio.


Beyond just curating content, we want our students to make deeper connections. With digital portfolios, we want students to document not only what they created, but also how and why. In other words, we want our students to discover and record what they learned about their own learning through this process.


The publishing or sharing step of the digital portfolio process can take place after all of the other steps are complete, or it can be an ongoing process. Not everything has to be published to the whole world. One of the first questions a teacher might consider is how public or private the portfolios will be. Most programs and tools that can be used to create digital portfolios have privacy settings built in. In this module, we will be exploring Google tools for the digital creation process.

Let’s Create Portfolios with Google Apps!

Shared Folder

One of the best ways to create an organizational schema for students is to have them save all of the items in their digital portfolio in one Google Drive folder. By doing so, all of the documents and items saved within that folder (even sub-folders) will inherit the same properties as the folder. Therefore, if the folder is set to public or “anyone with the link can view,” all of the items in the folder will share those settings. This step streamlines the process so that each individual artifact doesn’t have to be shared individually.
A shared folder can be published as a basic digital portfolio. While it lacks a polished appearance, it can be a simple way to get started collecting, curating, and publishing artifacts. As an example, if students were creating Martin Luther King Jr. artifacts, the Google Drive Folder might look something like this.

Google Doc with a Table of Contents

Google Apps Google AppsA Google Doc is another way to create a simple digital portfolio. An added benefit to a Google Doc is that there is an opportunity for students to write and reflect on each artifact of learning. The table of contents feature in Google Docs also lends itself well to digital portfolio creation. By using the Styles dropdown menu in Google Docs, teachers and students can create hierarchical headings, which can then be organized into a table of contents. In this animated gif, you can see the process of creating headings within the document and then inserting a table of contents into the top of the document.
The digital portfolio document created in Google Docs could potentially become a somewhat unwieldy multi-page document, but with the table of contents feature at the top, navigation is easily facilitated. Using the same example of a Martin Luther King Jr. project, a digital portfolio created with a Google Doc might look like this.Google Apps

Google Slides

Similar to Google Docs, Google Slides can be an ideal way to put together a digital portfolio. With it’s linear format and individual slides, Google Slides can house links to documents stored in a Google Drive folder and provide room for reflections, images, and even embedded videos. While the automatic table of contents feature that exists in Google Docs is not available in Google Slides, teachers and students can create a table of contents manually. This animated gif demonstrates the process. Continuing with our sample digital portfolio topic of Martin Luther King Jr., a digital portfolio created in Google Slides might look like this.
Google Apps

Google Sites

Arguably the most robust of the GAFE suite of programs, Google Sites is a website development program that easily integrates all of the Google tools. Within Google Sites, teachers and students can embed documents, slideshows, spreadsheets, YouTube videos, images, and much more. They can also create links to other artifacts of learning such as audio recordings, ThingLinks, etc. A sample website made with Google Sites that displays the same sample artifacts from the Martin Luther King Jr. project can be found here.
Google Apps for Education offers a wide variety of tools and programs that help support the digital portfolio creation process. From the very simple such as a Google Drive folder or Google Doc to the more complex Google Slideshow or Google Site, there is a continuum of complexity that can help teachers and students discover the method that is best for them!

Come Learn with Avra this Summer!

Google Apps


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The EdTech Alphabet for 21st Century Teachers

Along with the vast amount of technology that has entered our classrooms in recent years comes a whole new vocabulary. The EdTech alphabet that we’ve put together below started as a smaller collection of different topics we’ve written about over the past few years, and while it is by no means exhaustive, it covers a lot of ground in terms of different tools, methods, ideas, and resources.

See Also: The 25 Terms Connected Educators Should Know

If you’re struggling to integrate technology, if your school is low on funding, or if you’ve always used technology in your classroom, or consider yourself a seasoned pro, you may find some new ideas in the graphic below. We’ve linked to some relevant posts from the last couple of years in the text alphabet below.

We’re working on making a more robust alphabet graphic in the future, with multiple entries for each letter. Is there anything you want us to include (that hasn’t already been mentioned below)? Let us know by leaving a comment below, dropping us a line on Twitter, or heading over to the Daily Genius Facebook Page and leaving us a note there! We always love to hear about your favorite tools and more.

The EdTech Alphabet

From A-Z, our classroom lexicon is changing. A may be for apple, but also for Apps! What else? Keep reading!

A: Apps

B: Blended Learning

C: Challenge Based Learning

D: Digital Citizenship/Good Digital Citizens

E: eBooks

F: Feedback

G: Gamification/ Games

H: Hour of Code

I: Instagram

J: Jamboree (or other Professional Development Event)

K: Kaizena

L: Lesson Plans

M: Mobile Learning

N: Networking

O: Office 365

P: Project Based Learning

Q: Questions for Critical Thinking

R: Robots


T: TED-Ed 

U: Udemy (and other online learning platforms)

V: Videos

W: Webinars

X: X Marks the Spot

Y: YouTube

Z: Zero (What to do with little to no funding for technology)

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5 Gmail Hacks Every Teacher Should Know

Tons of schools (and thereby teachers, administrators, and students are using some form of Gmail as their email service these days. Along with the whole suite of Google Apps for Education, Gmail helps keeps teachers, students, and parents connected.

Email is email, right? You use it to send and receive communications from others, and perhaps as a never ending file that you can search later on for information someone sent you. Actually, Gmail is a very robust platform and can probably do hundreds of things you’ve never even heard of. There are endless tips and tricks out there to help you customize Gmail, but we’ve selected a few of our favorites that will be quite handy in the classroom.

      See Also: How to get started with the new Google Slides

Do you have any favorite Gmail tips and tricks that help your classroom to run more seamlessly, or just make your life a little easier? Share with the Daily Genius community by leaving a comment below, dropping us a line on Twitter, or heading over to the Daily Genius Facebook Page and leaving us a note there!

      Want even more Google tools and tips? Join Daily Genius on Google+!

Gmail’s Canned Responses: Make Quick Work of the Mundane

If you ever find yourself writing pretty much the same thing over and over, the canned responses feature may be your new best friend. Canned responses lets you pre-write common emails, and insert that text into any reply you choose. Once you’ve inserted the message, you can always customize it a bit if you want, or send it off as is. Simply enable the canned responses feature in labs, save your desired messages as canned responses, and you’re good to go. So when every parent asks you the same question about a field trip or multiple students are asking the same questions about a project, you don’t need to write thirty of the same email each time.

Undo Send

This may be a feature that you’re already familiar with, but if you’re not, it may be the holy grail of emailing. Undo send lets you do precisely what it sounds like: undo sending an email. Maybe you clicked send accidentally before finishing an email, or maybe you sent something you suddenly wish you hadn’t (we’ve all been there). Either way, Gmail offers you the option to undo a sent email for a short period (5, 10, 20, or 30 seconds) immediately after clicking send. To make sure this feature is enabled or to customize the amount of time you have after sending to recall, go to the little gear on the right side of your Gmail, click on settings, and then on General. Click “Enable Undo Send” and select the amount of time you want after sending to undo the send. Make sure to click save when you’re done. Voila!

Custom Keyboard Shortcuts

We all have things we do every day, multiple times a day. For me (in terms of email, anyway), filing away messages into different folders is one of them. Others would be composing new messages and reporting spam. Gmail already offers a ton of keyboard shortcuts that will save you some time (the list is separated by shortcuts that are always turned on and shortcuts that need to be manually turned on), but if those aren’t doing what you need, or if you don’t find them to be intuitive, you can create your own custom shortcuts. To create your own shortcuts, click on the little gear on the right side of your Gmail, go to Settings, and then to Labs. Scroll down to “custom keyboard shortcuts” and enable that option. From there, go to the Keyboard Shortcuts tab under settings, and create your own shortcuts. If learning shortcuts overwhelms you, try a Chrome extension like KeyRocket which helps teach you shortcuts while you’re using Gmail.

Email Addresses For Every Occasion

Did you know that gmail addresses can be modified with + signs and periods? The emails will all go to the same place regardless of the periods and plus signs. Thus, heydailygenius@gmail.com is effectively the same as heydaily+genius@gmail.com or heydaily.genius@gmail.com, or any other version you can devise.

How can this benefit you as a teacher? It offers you the ability to filter emails sent to those specific addresses. Let’s say you teach five classes, and receive email from parents and students from each of those five classes. You could create modified emails for each class, and then create a filter and a label for each one and send them to different folders.

For example:

Your email address: awesomescienceteacher@gmail.com

Class 1: awesome.scienceteacher@gmail.com

Class 2: awesomescience.teacher@gmail.com

Class 3: awesome+scienceteacher@gmail.com

Class 4: awesomescience+teacher@gmail.com

Class 5: awesome+science.teacher@gmail.com

When you receive emails and create the labels and filters,  they’ll all be sent to the appropriate spot so that you’ll have to do less searching, sifting, and organizing later.

Custom Filters

Speaking of filtering, have you tried it? If you haven’t, filters can really help clean up your inbox and sort messages into a more manageable sort of organized chaos. You can create filters that send messages directly to a certain folder (for a specific class, perhaps, like we envisioned above), directly to your junk folder, or create another action.

To start, select a message that you ‘d like to filter, and click on the drop down arrow on the right. Select “filter messages like this”.


Next, you’ll define the types of messages (from a certain address, to a certain address, containing certain words, etc). When you’ve input your desired parameters, click “create filter with this search” on the bottom right.



Once you’ve determined the types of messages you want to filter, you’ll tell Gmail what you want to do with those messages. I’ve selected “Skip the inbox” below, but you can choose any of the options below or a combination thereof. You can even send a canned response (see our first tip in this post!).



As you can see, there are a wide variety of offerings to customize your Gmail account and make it work for you. Have we overlooked one of your favorite Gmail hacks? Let us know by leaving a comment below or getting in touch via social media!

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The periodic table of education technology

We had a crazy idea over the weekend here at Daily Genius. What if we organized all the top education technology tools into a simple graphic? Then we took it a step further by identifying some of the best ways to organize data into a single visual. What better way to do that than by taking a page from the Periodic Table of the Elements? So we set out to identify the top edtech tools and conferences and then figured out which categories they all fit into.

What you see below is the result of quite a bit of effort from the editors of Daily Genius as well as the community. We cover edtech on a daily basis (hence the name of the site 🙂 but wanted to do something special for the end of the year. Hope you enjoy and explore it on an ongoing basis. Just do a web search for any of the names in the table and you’ll discover that tool. There’s a decent chance you will find a new tool, conference, app, or web tool that you might want to use in the coming year.

Want to get weekly edtech tips and deals? Check this out.

We worked hard to make sure these are all our favorite conferences and products. None of them are sponsored. This is the most genuine list we could ever make. It’s featuring the products and events that are widely accepted across the education industry and is by no means exhaustive. We know there are hundreds of options but endeavored to make the most useful visual possible.

We’ll be updating this a couple times a year to ensure it’s as relevant as possible. Be sure to check back to see what’s new!

Download The Periodic Table Of Education Technology

Click here to download the PDF version of the periodic table of education technology.

The amazing Kathy Schrock made a clickable PDF version of the graphic! Check that out here.

Want to enlarge the image below? Simply click on it!

NOTE: Updated December 30, 2015 as edX was featured twice. Replaced with a fan-favorite, Udemy!

periodic table of edtech daily genius

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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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Education Work

10 Awesome TED-Ed Lessons to Use in Your Classroom

We already know that TED Talks are awesome, no matter what topic you’re looking to address in your classroom, they’re sure to have something. Earlier this week, we looked at how you can tap into TED’s latest venture, TED-Ed, to create customized video lessons for your classroom.

If you’re not ready to create your own customized lessons just yet, fear not! TED-Ed has a ton of great lessons ready for you to use in your classroom. You can search by type of lesson, grade level appropriateness, duration of video, or browse by subject matter. Alternatively, you can search collections of lessons curated by the folks at TED-Ed, called Series, each of which focuses on a broader topic such as climate change, the human body, or inventions.

We’ve selected ten of our favorite TED-Ed lessons to share with you. Check them out, and if you have favorite TED-Ed lessons, we’d love to hear what they are! Leave us a comment below, visit the Daily Genius Facebook Page, or mention @DailyGenius on Twitter – we want to hear about your favorite lessons!

10 Awesome TED-Ed Lessons to Use in Your Classroom

Questions no one knows the answer to

In this early TED-Ed lesson, TED curator Chris Anderson explores why some questions just don’t seem to have answers.


How sugar affects the brain

In this popular TED-Ed lesson, we explore the chemical reactions that happen in the body when one ingests sugar, and why we’re probably better off enjoying sugar as a sometimes treat.


Grammar’s Great Divide: The Oxford Comma

I won’t lie, I’m on Team Oxford Comma. But not everyone is – and this TED-Ed lesson explores both sides of the debate.


Why sitting down is bad for you

We’ve all heard that too much sitting isn’t great for you, and many people are even acquiring standing workstations in offices. But just WHY is sitting so bad? This TED-Ed lesson explores some of the obvious and not-so-obvious dangers of too much sitting.


How playing an instrument benefits your brain

Maybe your mom made you play piano when you were a child, saying it was a “good thing to learn”. She probably didn’t expect you to become a concert pianist, so what, exactly, did she think was so “good” about it? This TED-Ed lesson takes a look at what happens in your brain when you play an instrument, and some of the long term positive effects.


The five major world religions

You can probably name most of them, and perhaps even identify some of the hallmarks of each. When discussing religion, we often focus on the differences between each, but this TED-Ed lesson explores the intertwined history of the five major world religions and sees what makes them more similar than we may think.


Myths and misconceptions about human evolution

So much of what we hear about evolution is misconception, and this TED-Ed lesson is designed to help clear up some of those things! For example, species (not individual organisms) evolve, though we commonly identify individuals as ‘evolving’.


How Mendel’s pea plants help explain genetics

Most of us understand that if Mom and Dad both have blue eyes, their kids are likely to have blue eyes, too. But what if one parent has blue eyes and one parent has brown eyes? It isn’t a simple toss of a coin – this TED-Ed lesson explains how we know so much about human genetics – because of plants!


How do languages evolve?

Throughout history, many languages have evolved from what was once a significantly smaller number – but how did this happen? This TED-Ed lesson explains how linguists group languages into families, and how these language ‘family trees’ may help us understand how languages have evolved over time.


What percentage of your brain do you use?

You’ve probably heard the statistic – that humans only use about 10% of their brains. Is it true? If not, how much of our brains do we actually use? Explore this TED-Ed lesson to find out.



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How to Create TED-Ed Lessons For Your Classroom

By now, most of you have probably heard of TED talks. Whether you’re in need of inspiration, information on a specific topic, or just some brain food, TED Talks can be a great resource. TED talk cover just about every topic imaginable, many dealing directly with education issues.

TED-EdTED’s newest initiative is TED-Ed – a collection two types of educational videos that can easily be used in your classroom. The first type of videos are TED-Ed originals: videos made by expert educators, screenwriters, and animators especially for TED-Ed. Each lesson aims to explore a particular lesson idea suggested by the TED community. The second types of videos are created by visitors to the TED-Ed website, meaning you can make your own custom videos for your class. Select any video you choose (a TED talk, or something else), and add questions, discussion topics, and supplementary materials to the video. They even offer lesson ‘series’, or collections of lessons on related topics, like language, how humans think, nature, the human body, and even the science behind superheroes!

Each video offers three sections in addition to the video: think, dig deeper, and discuss, along with the option to customize the lesson for your own classroom.

How to Create TED-Ed Lessons For Your Classroom

There are a couple of different ways to make lessons with TED-Ed. The first is to customize an existing lesson. To do this, simply click on the big red  ‘customize this lesson’ button on a particular lesson. You’ll be prompted to log in to TED.com or register if you don’t yet have an account. Once that’s taken care of, you’ll be presented with the first of your customization options.


Here, you can choose whether or not your lesson will be listed on the TED-Ed website, if you want to allow other users to further customize your lesson, the title of the lesson, and the description.

From there, you can edit the ‘Think’, ‘Dig Deeper‘, and ‘Discuss’ sections. Just click on each one to do so. You can use the existing materials and questions and supplement them as needed, or delete them and add in your own entirely. You can include up to 15 questions for ‘Think‘, 7500 characters for ‘Dig Deeper’, and add new discussion topics and answers with a max of 750 characters each for ‘Discuss’. To wrap things up, there’s a section called ‘And Finally…’ which gives you a place to offer some final thoughts, assignments, or reading materials for your students.

Finally, preview and publish your lesson! You’ll always be able to find your lesson on your activity page when you’re signed in to TED, but you’ll also be given a link to your lesson when you publish it, which you can share with your students.


On your activity page, you can see how many students have taken your lesson, and review their work and discussions. Just click on ‘review student work’ at the bottom of the lesson box to do so.


You’ll be able to view the students that have taken your lesson, how many correct and incorrect answers they had, how many attempts it took them to get the answers correct, their responses to open answer questions, and responses to discussions.

Making TED-Ed Lessons with Custom Videos

If you want to use a non-TED-Ed video to create a lesson, all you need is a video on YouTube, or a TED Talk. First, select your video, then head over to the TED-Ed homepage, and click on “Create a Lesson”.



You’ll be prompted to input the link of the YouTube video or a search term to find your desired video. You’ll be presented with a list of options, in video-grid format. Select the video you want, and click ‘Launch Lesson Editor’.


You’ll be presented with the same options as if you were using a pre-made TED-Ed lesson, just without any questions or discussion topics – that’s all up to you! Fill in your ‘Think’, ‘Dig Deeper‘, and ‘Discuss’ sections, and you’re ready to publish – easy as pie! You’ll have all the same options for sharing your video and tracking student progress as you do with the preexisting TED-Ed lessons.

Do you use TED Talks or TED-Ed lessons in your classroom? If so, let us know how, or better yet – share your lessons with the Daily Genius community! You can do so by leaving a comment below, visiting theDaily Genius Facebook Page, or mentioning @DailyGenius on Twitter – we want to hear what you think!

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