10 Student Guidelines for Creating Awesome Projects

Student-created stained glass artwork project after reading The Alchemist

A stained-glass depiction of a scene from The Alchemist. The student who created this “always wanted to create a stained-glass” and worked with her dad to learn how.

1. You get what you put into this. If your goal is an A, you’ll completely miss the point.

2. If your goal is to be creative and really push yourself, you’ll probably have an awesome project that will obviously get an A.

3. If you don’t mess up, fail, or get frustrated at least 5 times, you’re not trying hard enough. Keep going.

4. If you try to find a “safe” project, it won’t be that great. If you attempt a “risky” project, it could potentially be great. Take the risk.

5. The second you begin to think of grand ideas and then start saying, “Yeah, but…”– keep going. You’re heading in the right direction.

6. This could be the coolest thing you’ve ever done or you could look for the easy way out. It’s your call. That’s how life works. If you want to be average and always wonder “What if” then go the easy way. If you want to be extraordinary, you could do that as well. Average people look for the easy way; awesome people try to make everything the coolest thing they’ve ever done. That’s life.

7. Many of your classmates will hold back and not take the extra step. Their projects will be OK, but they’ll be lacking something– you’ll know it and (more importantly) they’ll know it, too. Don’t be like them. Stand out. Take a risk.

8. If most of your friends think your project sounds great, it probably isn’t. If most of your friends think your project sounds too crazy or too difficult or too far out there, it’s probably an awesome idea! Do the latter.

9. Have fun.

10. Don’t focus on the grade. Focus on being awesome. The grade will be a bi-product.

Evernote Use #16- Use Web Clipper to Save & Share Articles #50EduEvernote

Over the next few weeks, I will be posting 50 different ways school administrators and educators can use Evernote to be more organized and more effective. I’ll be using #50EduEvernote on Twitter to further this discussion and share ideas. If you’d like, click here to follow me on Twitter.

Evernote Use #16- Use Web Clipper to Save and Share Articles  #50EduEvernote

Yesterday I shared how I use Evernote Clearly to read, annotate, and save online articles. I use Clearly often for reading, but when it comes to quickly saving and/or sharing an article, I use Evernote Web Clipper.

The two extensions have many of the same features, so you’re not going to go wrong choosing either. If you choose to download only one, the Web Clipper is the one you probably will use most often.

When you come across an article you’d like to save and/or share, it’s a great idea to clip it to Evernote so you’ll always have a copy (not just the link). You’ll notice in the article below, the ads and side links are all visible– making it look a little cluttered for saving. Simply clipping the Evernote Web Clipper extension solves the problem.

Online article (original site)

Online article (original site)

Once you click the extension, a side menu will appear.

Evernote Web Clipper (Evernote for Mac)

Evernote Web Clipper (Evernote for Mac)

Web Clipper gives you two options– share or save. The cool thing is, when you share the article, you can do both.

Save or Share w/ Evernote Web Clipper (Evernote for Mac)

Save or Share w/ Evernote Web Clipper (Evernote for Mac)

If you switch to the Evernote link, you’ll be able to share the note’s URL which will look like this:

Shared URL

Shared URL

Especially when sharing articles with students, it’s important for me to eliminate any distractions or inappropriate ads. Click here to view the entire shared Evernote note.

I use the Evernote Web Clipper every time I come across an article I’d like to save and/or share. I put the note in my “Articles” notebook and tag it accordingly (i.e., “leadership” or “creativity” or “Ed Tech”). I often share the articles with colleagues using the note’s URL or by emailing the specific note.

The Evernote Web Clipper is an essential web extension for your browser. Be sure to download it today!

If you’re new to Evernote or would like to convince a friend to give it a shot, they can sign up here and receive a free month of Evernote Premium.

The Secret to Encouraging Reluctant Teachers to Use EdTech

The beauty of educational technology (EdTech) is also it’s biggest hurdle:  there is always something newer and better.

For some teachers, finding out about the latest and greatest EdTech is invigorating, challenging, and rewarding. They can’t wait to try something new and see if it will help their students.

For some teachers, finding out about the latest and greatest EdTech is paralyzing, intimidating, and draining. They don’t know where to start, so they refuse to learn and feel defeated. They say things like “There’s just so much. I don’t know even know where to start” or “I’m not like you. I’m so far behind that I’ll never catch up.”

I don’t buy it. My response is always the same for teachers who fear integrating technology into the classroom: “Start with what you know.”

This artwork hangs in my office as a daily reminder for me and my colleagues to avoid the analysis of paralysis:

A reminder hanging in my office (courtesy of Hugh MacLeod)

“If in doubt” by Hugh MacLeod

That’s what I would tell students. Why not tell teachers the same thing?

Start with what you know.

Let me tell you a story to illustrate this:

A friend of mine teaches Geometry and coaches football. Last week his kids were fighting off the flu and it’s still hanging around. As a result, he missed a few days last week and he’ll be out all of this week. That’s not good for him, his kids, or his Geometry students.

I suggested he create some video lessons for the sub to play so he and his students wouldn’t fall too far behind. I told him about apps like ShowMe and Educreations, but without an iPad to use, he was stuck. He went home, did a little research, and found something that might work for him… but sadly after trying to figure it out, it just didn’t work.

He texted me pretty bummed and said he’d just find another worksheet for his students to do while he was gone. I suggested he record a video with his iPhone (which he knows how to do). He could angle the camera on a piece of paper and teach his lesson with pen and paper. When he finished, he could send the video for the sub to play.

He loved the idea and then said rather than emailing the video, he’d post it on HUDL— a program he knows well from watching, editing, and sharing game films with other coaches and players.

The next morning he emailed a link to the HUDL video, and when his students came to class, they were able to have a “normal” class day even though their teacher was absent.

The reason this worked is simple:  Instead of being paralyzed about learning something new, my friend started with what he already knew (recording iPhone videos and uploading videos to HUDL) and created a learning opportunity for his students.

That’s how EdTech is supposed to work. It’s supposed to help us in the classroom and give us options that didn’t exist in years past. It should be liberating– not intimidating.

The next time you hear colleagues saying they’re too old to start using technology in class, call them out on it. Tell them to start with what they know. They often know more than they’re letting on. Heck, they probably have more Facebook friends than you do.