The Deafening Silence – A nod to audio in the classroom


Growing up, I have always loved music but never really worked to acquire it like many of my friends with thousands of albums in their collection. I can recall seeing my brother, with great precision, pulling the vinyl out of the sleeve, dusting it with a red velvetDoors contraption and delicately setting the needle down to rock out to some of the finest classics of my childhood.  Cranking out the Who, Led Zepplin, The Stones and playing the Doors backwards when he wasn’t around thinking that we would hear something special (as if the Doors weren’t dark enough to begin with) were very special.  With technology, came access and my red turnworld opened up, skipping a decade of Napster and the likes, I arrive at audio streaming. I still don’t have a collection per-se except for a small defining mix of “must haves” to make me feel legit but now with access to all the content I could ever imagine on the road or on my phone, I feel I could hold my own at the next impromptu backyard rave.  My brother, a purest, says much is lost in digital recordings, and I don’t disagree.  He has amps with old-school tubes in them to bring out the richest of sounds and still cares for records like small children yearning to get outside to play and each spin on the table – a celebration of his youth.

Much of this experience will never happen for students growing up today, is it a loss, perhaps?  For me, building the excitement for the first time of dropping the needle down to hear the soft static track filled with a fine dust, waiting for the first vibrations transmitted magically through a needle are irreplaceable.

So, were is music today?  While this could easily turn into a 20 page essay, my question is really about the place of audio in the classroom beyond the expected venues.  Should music be played, accessed, analyzed, built into mathematical equations for students to reach higher order thinking skills and connecting to real world experiences?  I think so.  This generation has unlimited access and tools to break sound and music down to key elements, understand the emotion of sound and its impact on society.  We should couple music and sound with lessons, providing a score to our presentations and touch an untapped modality for our learners that would bring our lessons, flip-charts, power points to a new level.  To that, I again, nod to music and sound in the classroom to break the deafening silence.

While there are hundreds of apps both in IOS and Google that can do everything from sampling to playing  every concert the Grateful Dead has ever preformed, I leave you but one:  Sound as an expression from another human being, both professional and novice to you.

sound cloud


Create, record and share the sounds you create with anyone using SoundCloud, the world’s largest community of sound creators.
Recording and uploading sounds to SoundCloud lets people easily share them privately with their friends or publicly to blogs, sites and social networks. It takes just a click to share sounds to Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and Foursquare.

SoundCloud can be accessed anywhere using the official iPhone and Android apps, as well as hundreds of creation and sharing apps built on the SoundCloud platform.

Have other tools or ideas?  Please share your thoughts or experiences.


Creating your own classroom Khan Academy

How to set up and use a USB camera for collaborative student work.

I have been been referring parents and students to sites like Khan Academy and resource sites for years to assist them in reviewing or learning content associated with their classroom lessons.  I have now been encouraging teachers to create their own content and version of Khan Academy and store it in the cloud for parents and students to access.  I have found that if students create and view videos of students they know or of videos they are in, they are far more likely to watch it multiple times and share it with family as an enjoyable experience along with supporting learning at home.

Having students create videos of their work in class station rotations that demonstrates their understanding and then shares it with their peers is a great way to access higher orders of thinking. In this model students would create videos using simple Chrome OS tools and then can collectively comment and amend understandings while providing feedback to students. To do this you will need any USB web camera or a Chromebook with a camera. Have the students access the Chrome Application/Extension Screencastify to save the video to their Google Cloud Drive. The teacher would then make the video available to students to comment on using VideoNotes. Creating videos is also a great way to memorialize a student’s thinking process for complex equations to be able to easily identify any misconceptions and also provides for creating student created video libraries if well done for all students to access. Use Videostream and Chromecast to easily project your student videos onto your classroom Digital Whiteboard.

Linked are two of the cameras that I use to capture student and teacher interactions as an administrator.  The LifeCam seems to produce a higher definition image/sound and can be mounded on a standard camera mount where the HUE offers greater versatility in the classroom inclusive of being used as an inexpensive document camera on a self supporting stand and is Mac friendly.  Both are great cameras.

Applications to help with data collection and literacy management


Zip Grade – ZipGrade turns your phone or tablet into an optical grading machine similar to a Scantron. It reads free-to-download answer sheets in multiple sizes. Provide instant feedback to students by grading exit tickets, quizzes, and formative assessments as soon as they finish.

Exit Ticket (Chrome and IOS) A Student Response System for Exit Tickets and Formative Assessments. ExitTicket enables personalized intervention and differentiation for every student, every class through in-classroom proven levers for real-time intervention & differentiation. Common Core Aligned – Customize ExitTicket using Common Core, Science Standards, or your own aligned Learning Targets.

Literacy Leveler – Literacy Leveler™ makes it easy to level children’s books in your collection and find books of an appropriate reading level.

Chrome OS Accommodation Applications and Extensions:




Collection of Chrome OS applications and extensions that support student access including voice recognition software, text to voice, distraction free writing space, online reader to support fluency for dyslexics, typing application and Fluency Tutor for students to practice fluency at home to be evaluated by teachers later.


Type with your voice. Sayit turns your Google Chrome into a speech recognition app. You can use your Google Chrome browser as a voice recognition app and type long documents, emails and essays without touching the keyboard. The app is integrated with Dropbox and Google Drive so you can easily export you transcribed text to your various online accounts. Or your can send the text to any email address.


A customizable, offline, and full-screen text-editor. Write Space is a customizable full-screen text-editor that lives in your web-browser. It is designed to minimize the distractions that come between you and your writing.


Too long didn’t read? Let TLDR shorten it.

TLDR (Too Long Didn’t Read)  Plugin is a free extension that creates a summary of any web article without leaving the original page.  Works great for PDF documents too!


BeeLine’s color gradient makes reading faster/easier for over 90% of people. How much will it help you?

Have a lot to read?  Make reading easier and faster using BeeLine Reader!  BeeLine uses a color gradient to guide your eyes from the end of one line to the beginning of the next.  This seemingly simple tweak makes reading substantially easier and faster because it allows you to transition between lines quickly and effortlessly.  Thousands of people have taken our online diagnostic test, and over 90% of them saw a benefit from BeeLine.  Many people are able to read 20% or 30% faster with BeeLine, even on their first try.


Tired of reading? Select text you want to read and listen to it. SpeakIt converts text into speech so you no longer need to read.

SpeakIt reads selected text using Text-to-Speech technology with language auto-detection. It can read text in more than 50 languages.


Fluency Tutor™ for Google is an easy-to-use reading and assessment tool that helps busy teachers support struggling readers.

Great for time-stretched teachers, Fluency Tutor™ for Google lets students practice reading aloud at their own pace.

Make reading aloud more fun and satisfying for even your most reluctant students. It’s also great for early readers and individuals learning English as a second language.

This easy-to-use app takes pressure off teachers having to listen to every student read in a busy classroom, where they can feel self-conscious.


Allows students to open reading passages through Google Drive

This web-based program allows students to open Fluency Tutor™ for Google reading passages in Google Drive. Must be used with reading passages assigned through the Fluency Tutor™ for Google App (available separately in the Chrome Web Store).


Master touch typing using this free game / educational program. This online program will assist you with learning and improving…

Master touch typing using this free game / educational program. This online program will assist you with learning and improving your typing speed!

Practice each lesson over and over to at least get all three stars. It really doesn’t take much to learn touch typing, a few minutes a day for one to two weeks and you will be a pro!

Google now owns Word Lens – Visual Translator

When I came across Word Lens at the beginning of the school year, I was immediately impressed.  It was incredible how the software on my i-Phone worked and even with printed handwriting.  Once, while trying to communicate with a Spanish speaking parent, I couldn’t get the message through.  Using the Word Lens app and Post-It Note, communication was accomplished!  I have really thought about this tool since that day and wondered how English Language Learners (ELL) could benefit from this technology.  Predicting that this acquisition was a key move on Google’s part to incorporate it fully into the Glass platform, it will be some time before Glass devices are affordable to schools.  Hoping that  Google’s  “Do no harm” mantra will continue, this app may find its way into the Google Apps for Education within Chrome and could be a staple on the millions of Chromebooks in schools for the 14-15 school year.


In order for students to use the translator, there needs to be a solution around the usefulness of the camera.  In its current state, students would have to hold up the text or book and read over it while viewing the computer screen.


A work around would be to utilize a light, portable, durable USB document camera that would sit to the side of the Chromebook and translate text in real time making books, directions, vocabulary accessible to the emerging language learner.

The best part?  If you have an Android or iOS device, the App is currently free as are all the language packs which are usually priced at $3 each.  I guess it’s time to put those aging i-Phones to good use.

Word Lens

5 Types of Classroom Teaching Styles

Any person who has ever taught in a classroom setting will quickly confess that their style of teaching is different from other teachers. Having a different teaching style makes it essential for teachers to be able to adapt to their students learning abilities. Here are five classroom teaching style methods that will help any teacher reach their students.

5 Teaching Styles that are Used in the Classroom

  1. One of the most popular and widely used teaching style is that of an authority figure. This teaching style puts the teacher as the center of attention and all the students must focus on what the teacher is doing. The information that the students receive comes directly from the teacher. Any type of misbehavior that arises must be dealt with quickly by the teacher. The teacher will often maintain control by using a loud voice or some other type of attention getting tactic. This style of teaching only produces short-term results with students and once the student moves on, the teachers influence is long forgotten.
  2. Another teaching model that a student may find in the classroom is an authority model. Here the teacher models or demonstrates certain behaviors that are beneficial to the students. Lessons are taught much like the authority figure that demands obedience, except model behavior is shown by example and not demanded. There is often a clear cut discipline structure that is communicated to both parents and students. The teacher finds satisfaction in the strides that the students make each day. In return, the students begin to build a trusting relationship with their teacher that lasts beyond the classroom year.
  3. Next in line on the teaching style list is a classroom that is student oriented. Here the teacher develops activities that help students build relationships while learning the needed material. Some of the activities will be based on students interacting with each other while they solve problems that are related to real life events. Students who sit under this teaching model find that they end up with friendships with others and remember the content of the lesson plans. Students who do not interact well with other people may find it hard to learn in this environment.
  4. A fourth teaching model uses the students to learn the material themselves. The teacher will have detailed lesson plans that the students must read through and find a way to learn and complete the assignments. Students will have to learn to work in groups and rely on each other to complete the assignment. Usually the teacher is there to provide guidance and support as the students tackle the assignment they have been given.
  5. The final teaching style is one that presents a hands off method. The students are left to themselves to read the book and complete material that is given in an outline format. The teacher is usually in the classroom but only available for questions. Students work through their books in an attempt to complete the material and pass any tests that are given by the teacher.

Every student has a different learning style and every teacher has a different teaching method they use in the classroom. For students and teachers to succeed, they both must learn to adapt to each other. Only in the end, with both sides working together, will students learn and teachers have success teaching their students.

Which one do you see most often in the classroom and what would they look like if the students and teachers were all using digital tools or Chromebooks?