EduNationCast #32 The Broken Gradebook

This week on the EduNationCast…

We discuss the controversial topic of students being able to earn zeros on assignments and whether or not we should throw out the grade system alltogether.

Should we just go with badges instead?

Videos of the week (link to the segment):

Dan Rezac: We suggest not watching Dan’s video, unless you’re into “trolololo“.
James Sanders: The Story Wars
Jim Sill: Behind the Scenes of Hugo
Adam Shares: Free Speech iPad App
Diane Shares: Best Marriage Proposal Ever!

EduNationCast #31: Social Media Directors?!


This week on the EduNationCast…

We discuss LAUSD’s somewhat controversial decision to hire a social media coordinator.  Find out why we think it’s a good decision.

Videos of the week (link to the segment):

Dan Rezac: Prelude to War
James Sanders: Men of Steel 
Jim Sill: Turn Me On
Adam Shares: Bill Cosby’s Commencement Speech 2012
Diane Shares: Our Digital Footprint (audio only)

This week’s contributors: James SandersDan RezacJim SillAdam Bellow, and Diane Main.

Google+ EDU On-Air Sessions

Here are links to the sessions I did for the Google+ "On-Air" EDU conference.  Enjoy! 

This session covers ways to leverage web-based tools to increase student engagement, collaboration, and opportunities for students to create.

Hosted by Henry from MinutePhysics, and featuring some of the biggest EDU stars on YouTube, we discussion the differences between science and pseudoscience on the the internet. 

YouTube belongs in the classroom! In this session I highlight ways teachers can use YouTube in the classroom as well as run through some of my favorite YouTube EDU channels and videos.  

The Importance of Conversation


"A 16-year-old boy who relies on texting for almost everything says almost wistfully, “Someday, someday, but certainly not now, I’d like to learn how to have a conversation.”

"In conversation we tend to one another. (The word itself is kinetic; it’s derived from words that mean to move, together.) We can attend to tone and nuance. In conversation, we are called upon to see things from another’s point of view."

Quotes from the NY Times: The Flight from Conversation

Realizing it's a problem...

My first step is realizing that this movement away from in-person conversation is having a negative impact on my own life. Even the most captivating video or Google Hangout leaves something to be desired. At present, there is no digital equivalent to the physical experience (and I'd like to keep it that way). 

To combat this, I'm constantly looking to set up dinner and coffee dates with friends where I am forced to have face-to-face conversations. In my experience, the conversations are far more rewarding and frequently lead to more personal and professional opportunities than their digital counterparts.

Then why does technology play such a huge role in your classroom? 

Yes, I spend a lot of time teaching my students to use the exact tools that I believe need moderation.  These same platforms that are undermining quality of life in so many ways are also incredibly powerful tools for collaboration and creation. My students’ ability to leverage those tools as they move through the education system and on into the workforce will play a huge role in their future success. As teachers we need to find a balance. We have the difficult task of teaching them the power of the digital tools as well as communicating the value of the in-person conversation.   

This week on the EduNationCast...

Are we too focused on the technology? Are we undermining the importance of conversation? (link to segment)

Videos of the week (link to the segment):

Diane Main: Scale of the Universe
Dan Rezac: TED 2030
James Sanders: Body Systems
Adam Bellow: Photosynthesis
Mark Hammons: The Eight Billion Dollar iPod

Demo Dance: (link to segment)

This week's contributors: James SandersDan RezacJim SillDiane MainAdam Bellow, and special guest Mark Hammons.

Join us live on Google Plus every Monday, 6:30 Pacific!

Sal Khan's TED Talk One Year Later


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"Our broadcast today dissects the Salman Khan TED Talk from last year, Let’s Use Video to Re-invent EducationFor this talk, I’ve invited some expert Flipped Classroom folks, the original Flipped Classroom guys, Jon Bergmannand Aaron Sams. To top it off we are also joined by YouTube EDU consultant James Sanders. We dive deep into Khan’s ownership of the Flipped Classroom idea, and his unwillingness to give so many teachers credit for the millions of tutorials already online. However, we give him kudos for taking the message to a mass crowd. Let’s discuss!"


You don't think all kids can learn?!

On March 1st, the Seattle Times published an OpEd where the author argued that teachers can only teach the students who come to class motivated to learn, and that students who come to class disinterested or apathetic do not deserve the right to be called a student. In the piece, the teacher divorced himself from the idea that it is the teacher’s responsibility to teach every student in his or her class.

I spent the last four years teaching middle school in South Central Los Angeles.  According to Mr. Magill, many of my students probably were not “students.”  Many came from broken homes, difficult living arrangements, and had varying levels of support outside of the classroom.  But I demanded high achievement from them, and they gave it to me.  Not only did our school return high scores on the state test, but we were able to engage all of our students through a challenge-based curriculum that emphasized creativity and critical thinking.

As educators, it is our job to light the fires underneath our students and show them that the world is a place that can be changed. We must encourage curiosity, critical thinking, and embrace mistakes our students make. The “teachable” ones in Mr. Magill’s classroom are teachable because someone took the time to show them that learning is valuable and knowledge is equal to power. The students categorized as “unteachable” still need to be reached, and it’s a tragedy that they could be in classrooms such as Mr. Magill’s.

Let’s apply Mr. Magill’s logic to the field of medicine. Over the last hundred years, how we treat injury and disease has continued to progress. Billions of dollars are poured into the field every year in search for new methods. However, this has not happened in education.  In the vast majority of our schools, methods of teaching and learning have changed little in the last hundred years.  In my opinion, what we do in our classrooms is just as important as what is going on in our hospitals.  If doctors were still using the same tools and treatments as they were a hundred years ago, the fault would be on the hospital and its lack of reform and innovation.  With Mr. Magill’s reasoning, patients would remain sick until they have the sufficient desire to get better.

I find it ironic that this piece questioning the “teachability” of students was likely composed on a device created by a person who would have been labeled “unteachable,” and therefore undeserving of the title “student”. Thankfully, Steve Jobs’ parents had the foresight to call the school’s methods of instruction into question and seek out learning experiences that would challenge their son and embrace his questioning of the status quo.

It is clear that we need to rethink what we call teachers.  A “teacher” should be someone who does everything within his or her power to create rigorous learning experiences that engage, motivate, and allow students to be creative.  Our future success as a species hinges on the ability for all of us to become teachers and to cultivate a generation of citizens capable of solving the difficult problems that lie ahead.

In conclusion, I’m extremely troubled by the idea of there being teachers in classrooms who have the preconceived notion that not all students are “teachable”. Since students are required by law to be in classes, children are sitting in classrooms in which the adults entrusted with their well being believe their efforts to be in vain. Underachievement in our schools is a solvable problem.  We should be hiring teachers who believe in each and every student in their classrooms and equipping those teachers with the skills and tools necessary to create a culture of achievement and success.  Giving up on our children can never be the answer.

 Article orginally appeared on

EduNationCast #19 Should EDU Be Popular?

This week on the EduNationCast: We discuss the state of web access in the country,  have a roundtable discussion on the popularity of education, and share our favorite videos and tools of the week.

Videos of the week:

James shares ”What’s Your Story?” 

Adam shares ”Be Infectious” 

Dan shares early presidential recordings.

Jim Shares a "Montage Study" created by one of his students! 

Tune in to the live broadcast on Mondays 6:30 Pacific on Google+!

This Week’s Contributors: James SandersAdam BellowJim Sill and Dan Rezac. 


This post originally appeared at

EduNationCast #18 "Classroom-Free Schools"

This week on The EduNationCast: We discuss the merits of remote learning and whether or not physical classrooms are undermining student creativity and collaboration.

Videos of the week:

James shares "The Spangler Effect"

Diane shares the "History Teachers" YouTube channel

Jim shares the Super Bowl ads

Adam shares "Hapi Berth Dey" 

Tune in to the live broadcast on Mondays 6:30 Pacific on Google+!

This Week’s Contributors: James SandersAdam BellowDiane MainJim Sill and Dan Rezac. 

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EduNationCast #17 EDU Police State

This week on The EduNationCast: We weigh in on President Obama's plan to require every student in the U.S. to attend high school until they graduate or turn 18 and the gang shares some of their favorite educational videos and tools of the week.

Tune in to the live broadcast on Mondays 6:30 Pacific on Google+!

This Week’s Contributors: James SandersAdam BellowDiane Main and Dan Rezac. 

With special guest, YouTube Star Teacher Enrique Legaspi!

The complete show notes can be found on the EdReach Wiki.

Why Teachers Should Use YouTube Playlists

(MLK Playlist)

  • Playlists are YouTube's way of allowing you to organize videos on the site: a playlist is a series of videos you put together - they don't have to be videos you uploaded, and you get to choose the order.
  • When one video ends, the playlist plays the next video without offering 'related videos', thus creating a curated environment for your students.
  • Therefore, by creating playlists of videos you can select which YouTube videos you want your students to view.
    • Playlists live on your channel, are discoverable in search results (if you want them to be), and can be embedded on your blog or class site.
    • Create a playlist of videos for each school unit so students can review them when looking to learn more about a topic or need to review for an upcoming assessment.

(Order of Operations Playlist)

  • Great playlists include videos that...
    • Hook your students into a lesson.
    • Provide real-world context for lessons.
    • Help provide cultural relevance for your students.
    • Provide remediation for concepts yet mastered.
    • Provide alternative viewpoints.
    • Provide visual context (chemical reactions, primary source videos).
    • Review previously taught content.

(I originally published this content on YouTube for Teachers)

EduNationCast: Has Hype Killed Flip Teaching?

This week on The EduNationCast:  Jim’s back from Google Israel, we discuss the media buzz around flip teaching and share some of our favorite educational videos of the week.

When people ask if you’re “flipping” your classroom, do they really know what they’re talking about?

This Week’s Contributors: James SandersAdam BellowJim Sill and Dan Rezac. 

The complete show notes can be found on the EdReach Wiki.

EduNationCast: YouTube Goes to School

This week on The EduNationCast: We go wild about video in the classroom! We share some of our great video finds, including a rare Steve Jobs talk on classroom technology and Google Education Fellow Phil Wagner joins us to talk about the brand-new YouTube for Schools!

This Week’s Contributors: James SandersAdam BellowDiane Mainand Dan Rezac. 

 Special Guests This Week: Phil Wagner 

The complete show notes can be found on the EdReach Wiki.

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EduNationCast #009

This week on The EduNationCast: Some fantastic Videos of the Week including,Everything is a Remix, and a couple more. Diane shows us the cool ways you can use and Jim informs us that Google + pages are now available with your Google Apps account. We wrap up our show with a great discussion on whether or not expensive interactive white boards can be replaced with an iPad and Apple TV.


This Week’s Contributors: James Sanders, Jim Sill, Diane Main, and Dan Rezac. 

 Special Guests This Week: Scott MeechBen Rimes, and Enrique Legaspi The complete show notes can be found on the EdReach Wiki.