We Must Teach Emotional Intelligence in Schools

Our education system is out-of-date; not enough research drives our instruction, as it does in every other impactful field. Harvard’s Thomas Kane believes that “the problem is that we don’t have any kind of mechanism for connecting [research] to the decisions that [are made]” (Westervelt, 2016). One area of research that is not communicated to the decision makers and, most importantly, the teachers is how emotions influence our learning capabilities.

E.I.Neuroscientists have discovered that “emotional processes are required for the skills and knowledge acquired in school to transfer to novel situations and to real life” (Immordino-Yang, 2007). Without the ability to connect with others in a positive manner, decision-making skills are compromised, if present at all. In school, we must teach emotional intelligence so that our students can learn to control their own emotional states by improving their relationships with others.



Classroom Link


Neuroscientist and psychobiologist, Jaak Panskepp notes that “our love and our attachment are partially addictive phenomena…they provide us with a sense of security that everything is right in the world” (2014). Students need, and innately want, to learn the skills to make connections with their peers and others they encounter. Their “biology and [their] sociality are completely…intertwined with one another;” the desire to be accepted and feel purposeful in a group is natural and would not be contrived in a classroom (Immordino-Yang, 2011).

Education needs to improve its dissemination of research into the working field better. Teachers can jump-start it by teaching social skills and emotional control in their classrooms every day, starting now.



Immordino-Yang, M.H. (2011). Embodied brains, social minds: How admiration inspires purposeful learning. [Video]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RViuTHBIOq8 
Immordino-Yang, M.H., & Damasio, A. (2007). We feel, therefore we learn: the relevance of affective and social neuroscience to education. LEARNing Landscapes, 1(1), 115-131. Retrieved from: http://www.learninglandscapes.ca/images/documents/ll-no9-final-lr-links.pdf
Panksepp, J. (2014). The science of emotion: Jaak Panksepp at TEDxRainier. [Video]. Retrieved from:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65e2qScV_K8
Westervelt, E. (2016). There is no FDA for education. Maybe there should be. NPRed. Retrieved from: https://t.co/BnXH3shYz6

What’s in a Remix?

I have watched numerous remixes online. They are either motivational or amazing pieces of art and I absolutely love them. Well, I was given the assignment to create my own remix addressing the maker movement. Well, it is NOT as simple as it seems. Using Mozilla Popcorn, I spent a lot of time creating this short video: over an hour for every ten seconds I produced. Please take into account that this was after I spent time learning what Popcorn was and how to use it. To say the least, I was frustrated. Technology usually comes easily to me, but this was not simple or easy or user-friendly. To make a minute of video that could capture my idea that we, as a human race, are losing out on new inventions because of current copyright laws, I found myself exhausted, yet…strangely…totally engaged.

This challenging assignment helped me realize why we need to allow kids to think for themselves and give them the opportunity to fail, especially when it comes to technology. We need to pass on the pursuit of challenge and, better yet, success after failure. To do so, we should give kids the opportunity to explore, imagine, and create. I was originally upset that the program kept crashing on me or that I was choosing the wrong seconds to include, but ultimately, I was very proud of my creation. While I know it is NOT the best I can, nor will, do, I know it’s a start because I have that belief instilled in me.

I can be better…if I work at it.

That. Is what we need to pass on to the next generation. The knowledge that great products take time, include many, MANY mistakes, and include the cost of frustration and (sometimes) tears. It’s a good thing.

Check out my amateur video; I’d love to hear your thoughts:

The Maker Movement



Barstad, Tor. (2011, November 20). What you must know about the future [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUOB4tdFDYM.

Big Man on Campus [Video file]. (1958). Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/BigManOnCamp.

Copy-me. (2014, May 25). Copying = stealing? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_oZvYiuCnY.

DatPeachLoopHigh. (2013, March 12). The XX- Intro [Audio file]. Retrieved from https://soundcloud.com/datpeachloophigh/the-xx-intro-long-version.

LongNow. (2013, July 3). Chris Anderson – The makers revolution [Audio file]. Retrieved from https://soundcloud.com/longnow/makers-revolution.

Nursery school children do some building with blocks. (1938). Retrieved March 15, 2015 from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nursery_school_children_do_some_building_with_blocks_-_NARA_-_285756.jpg.

Riskbites. (2014, July 29). What has the maker movement got to do with public health? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDFmXUVNwQg.

TheDerrickJ. (2014, June 18). Full Hearing | NH Supreme Court Hears Rich Paul Appeal Pt 3 [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ef5mSHWW6FQ.

A Time to Reflect

Photo by Pixabay is licensed under CC 0

As my Michigan State University class, Teaching Understanding with Technology, comes to an end, it’s a perfect time to reflect on everything that I’ve learned and decide what I still need to learn and where I want to go next.

New Ideas

I was already aware that technology is all around us, but I hadn’t considered that educators should rethink how we teach our students who are learning new things at a very rapid pace outside of school, via the internet, games, and many apps. After reading works by Will Richardson, James Paul Gee, and Henry Jenkins, I came to learn that we need to capitalize on the technology resources at our students’ fingertips, but also teach our students HOW to best access and analyze new knowledge they gain. This is certainly a process that begins with teachers adopting new ideas. It will be strengthened when we try new techniques and resources out with our students, then share our struggles and findings with our colleagues.

Another big take-away was the concept of TPACK (Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge). TPACK highlights three core areas of teaching and learning: Content, Pedagogy, and Technology, stressing that all three must be considered together, not as separate entities. Teachers are naturally flexible and responsive in their planning for and instruction of students, but incorporating technology into the art of teaching content is one that should and must be done.

Technology Use” by mrsdkrebs is licensed under CC 2.0

New Technology

This course opened my eyes to technologies that can support me, professionally and personally, and my students.

Technology for ME

Originally, I had never considered Twitter as a professional platform, but I have fallen in love with it. Every morning, I read a few articles or watch a few videos; I am guaranteed to learn something new that can benefit my teaching. In the afternoons, I check my Feedly account for new newspaper and magazine articles, as well as blogs I follow, related to exactly what I’m interested in. They have so much! From education to technology to food to travel, it’s basically Nicole’s Daily Newspaper. Evernote Webclipper helps me save articles, pictures, or parts of articles that I find on the internet and want to remember later. Evernote, itself, has made me more productive (read my article here to find how) and organized as an educator and social butterfly.

Technology for MY STUDENTS

There is an infinite amount of resources out there for our students to tap into, in and out of school. Fairfax County shares a list of over 600 apps that have been proven useful to teachers and students every year. They’ve narrowed it down, but it’s difficult to say any teacher has the time and energy to sift through that list. Luckily the Center for Learning and Performance Technologies compiled the top 100 from the previous year to assist us. Educanon helps me take videos from the internet and make them more interactive by intermittent pauses and directions, which is perfect for the Flipped Classroom approach (see an example lesson plan here). VoiceThread is perfect for encouraging discussion amongst students; it’s incredibly motivating. Of course, my favorite is Google Apps. All our students have google accounts, so preparing templates allow me to support students and differentiate. I love that students can work on the same document and make and receive comments on each other’s work in real time.

Next Steps

There is still a lot I need to learn about copyright and I plan to read Renee Hobb’s book, Discovering Media Literacy: Teaching Digital Media and Popular Culture in Elementary Schools, as a start. Incorporating technology well takes a lot of time and I wonder how I will be able to continue building my toolbox of technologies, while also creating great lessons for my students and keeping up with the other requirements I have as a teacher. Life is about balance and now I have another (huge) piece I need to consider. I also would like to know more about using technology as a formative assessment tool, so I’ve registered for a class through American School of Bombay Online Academy.


I started this graduate certificate program for a number of reasons: I felt I was falling behind my colleagues that were more tech savvy, I realized how much information is out there to learn and knew I needed guidance, and I’m interested in pursuing a doctorate in Educational Technology and Educational Psychology through MSU and wanted to know if I would enjoy their style of presenting material online before I applied. Extremely pleased with all that I’ve learned and my progress as a 21st century teacher, I’m thrilled I chose this program. I know there is still so much more to learn, but am happy and excited to be on the never-ending journey.

Cooking with TPACK

TPACK Fruit Salad

To truly live TPACK, I was given the assignment from my technology course to cook a dish, but with some serious rules. I called upon Matt, giving him no background information, to help me by choosing a plate, bowl, kitchen utensil, and draw a number from 1-5. He chose a large plate, small bowl (ramekin, more like), cheese grater, and the number that corresponded to fruit salad. No one ever uses a cheese grater to make a fruit salad, so the final product is clearly not your everyday fruit salad. The process, however, was enlightening.

I found a way to slice soft fruit (the strawberry and banana) and discovered that one could grate pears and apples! While it wasn’t the cleanest process, there was a more potent fruit smell and I had fun. I decided to use the bowl for my fruit trash and the plate worked well as my cutting board, and later doubled as my serving dish (why not?).

As teachers, we’re often given supplies that are inadequate for meeting all our students, or that are just not useful. Using our creative ingenuity, we can make anything “work” as long as we remember what our ultimate goal is. In this case, a fruit salad was made and enjoyed, so I would consider myself successful. Learning should be messy. Learning should be fun. By finding tools and repurposing them to fit our learning objectives, all teachers find success.

Please watch and enjoy my video to witness my crazy process. Thank you, Matt, for setting the stage. Bon appetit!

Learning Through YouTube: Mission Possible

My grad class assigned me a “Networked Learning Project”. What is that? Well, I had to choose something that I wanted to learn, but didn’t have the time or energy to learn it. Considering I am 33 years old and don’t know what to do with my hair…ever…I thought this was the perfect opportunity to learn some basics. I could only use YouTube and discussion forums, but I quickly discovered that those are not limitations in ANY way, shape, or form. After hours and hours of time spent on YouTube and rejections from many hair forums, I learned more than I ever thought I could know about how to style my hair.

As ridiculous as it may sound, I DID need to learn how to style my hair. I learned so many things that most normal girls probably already know: what products to use and when, how to use a curling iron, how to do a fishtail braid, how to make sure your hair stays put, etc. Honestly, this project has taken me to “I’m a real girl!” level. See my video for only a few things that I learned:

Some of the key things I’ve learned is that there are people on YouTube who specialize in certain things (hair styling, being only one specialization) and that when you find someone that knows what they are talking about and gives explicit verbal and visual explanations, they are “keepers”. If it weren’t for Tina, I wouldn’t have been able to learn how to adapt the lessons for my “overnight curls” into large, voluminous, realistic, and WANTED waves. If it weren’t for Lilith, I wouldn’t be able to do fishtail braids or know how to make braids stylish, instead of childish. These two YouTube celebrities are heroines to me for their clarity on how to complete hairstyles. They are just two examples of my favorite “teachers”, as I learned to combine styles and techniques from MANY different YouTube sources (see my previous post for more references).

The key to being an effective YouTube instructor is ensuring that you are clear with what you are teaching, explain every key step and repeat it verbally (and sometimes visually), and make sure that your visual component matches everything your viewers NEED to see. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a billion: use the perspective of your videos wisely. I can’t wait to incorporate YouTube videos into my future lessons, and create some for my students as a reinforcing reference or pre-lesson, flipped classroom technique outside of class. Not only that, I am looking forward to learning more hair styles and other [secret] skills I’ve always wanted to master.

Ultimately, we are in the digital age and it is up to us to use it or lose it. If we do decide to use it, I recommend finding “specialists” that explain their content clearly and visually well. Good luck to you…and me!

21st Century Lesson Plan

There are many technology resources at our fingertips, and teachers need to ensure that the ones they choose to use in the classroom support meaningful learning objectives and their students’ development of understanding through play. Thomas and Brown (2011) recognize that “A growing digital, networked infrastructure is amplifying our ability to access and use nearly unlimited resources and incredible instruments while connecting with one another at the same time” (p. 18). The classroom of the 21st century, then, should look very different to that of the 20th century.

I have created a lesson plan for a class of fifth grade students that balances meeting common core standards and allowing children the opportunity to create, problem-solve, and evaluate. To help me create an effective 21st century lesson plan, I used Renee Hobbs’ (2011) list of core competencies: access, analyze, create, reflect, and act.

An essential question of this realistic fiction writing unit, “How do writers engage their readers in a short story from start to finish?” is powerful and overarching. Every writer wants their story to be well-liked! As an introduction to the unit, this lesson plan begins with students watching a video that summarizes and gives fresh ideas for the different key elements of a short story before class (flipped classroom strategy): setting, plot, and characters. The Educanon video was created to automatically stop after each key element and challenges students to process the ideas presented, then brainstorm ideas for a story of their own. They will do this in a GoogleDoc template, to equip the students for easy sharing with future partners and teachers, and to reinforce the idea that nothing is set in stone, as many do when they write in notebooks. The template includes tables, bullets, text boxes, and colors – all of which students are free to work within or modify to their liking. By using a template, I am helping them deepen their capacity to use tools within word processing well.

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Image from Wikimedia Commons

When students come to class, they now share their ideas with a writing partner by exchanging documents. A follow-up video prompts students to analyze their partner’s work and problem-solve issues that may have arisen in their planning (lack of conflict or weak themes) by commenting and revising their GoogleDoc. The preparation before a real conversation allows both people the time to think things through and the ability to get their thoughts out in a focused, yet open way.

By giving my students the focus from the video to concentrate on small pieces at a time, I am setting them up for success. GoogleDocs and collaboration with classmates and me gives them freedom and the knowledge that there is no “right answer”, but there are techniques to make your short story more effective.

Your comments on my lesson plan and its rationale are very welcome.


Bergman, J., & Sams, A. (2012). Flip your classroom: Reach every student in every class every day. USA: International Society for Technology in Education.

Hobbs, R. (2011). Digital and media literacy: Connecting culture and classroom. Thousand, Oaks, CA: Corwin/Sage.

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Retrieved from: http://www.newcultureoflearning.com/newcultureoflearning.pdf

Learning Through YouTube: Update!

I’ve spent hours scouring YouTube to learn how to style my hair (Click here for the introduction to this project). The first, and most important “skill” for me to learn was forming voluminous curls that would last throughout the day. While there were many videos that told me a curling iron could work, I completely disagree since my hair didn’t hold the curls for very long. I purchased a heat resistant glove to hold the curls after I’d remove them from the curling iron, used copious amounts of hair spray, and pinned the curls to allow them to cool and set. Regardless of every attempt, my hair was always straight within an hour. I did notice that the curling iron worked well for curls around my face, where my hair was shorter and less heavy, but I still wanted curls on the rest of my head.


Not the look I was going for


The headband method gives me loose, relaxed, and natural curls

After accepting that my hair wouldn’t become best friends with the curling iron, I moved onto heatless curls and tried many different methods. Basically, I prepped my hair the night before in either braids, pin curls, buns, or a headband, went to sleep, and woke up happy or shocked. Curls can hold all day with this method! However, I NEED TO ensure the curls are large enough before going to bed because tiny curls or tight braids at night meant super tiny curls in the morning. It wasn’t pretty and not what I was hoping for. I ended up modifying Vivian’s headband method by putting individual pieces and keeping the flips through the headband loose. Vivian and her videos are extremely helpful because she explains why she does certain things (like wetting her hair a little first), which allows me to be more successful and avoid potential mistakes. See my short video below to see how it works for me.

A classmate recommended I look into mastering the chignon (thanks again, Dave!), which was wonderful because I discovered there are many options for long hair. I found Lilith Moon‘s YouTube site and watched almost every one of her videos. She taught me how to take advantage of my long hair with beautiful braids, wraps, and twists. She not only shows how to do each hairstyle, but also includes simplified steps that she repeats over and over to help me remember.

Loose and slightly messy is trendier now, which means prepping my hair the night before for curls is helpful for the inevitable strands that come out of the up-do to have life. It’s a good thing I’ve finally mastered that skill so I can move onto perfecting hairstyles by Lilith and Kate.

Tips to Make Evernote Your Personal GTD Assistant

evernote search

My saved searches

I just discovered the true power of Evernote. Instead of just being a place to jot down notes, diary entries, phone numbers, etc., it is becoming my personal Getting Things Done (GTD) assistant. I just add an actionable task as an individual checkbox with special tags. Ta-Da!evernote checkbox

Thanks to detailed instructions by Ruud andMalc, anyone can figure out how to set up saved searches to match their personal needs: time, place, projects, etc. I recommend adding them to Shortcuts to make it easier to access and jump between. I also modified some of Ruud’s key tags by eliminating the @ unless it’s a place or person.

The saved searches have allowed me to organize my day by what I truly need to accomplish AND the smaller items that often get pushed aside just by clicking on the 5 or 15 minute search. The key is checking in on a daily and weekly basis to move items from waiting for (someone), projects, and someday into next actions.

Best part? You can still use Evernote as an organizing platform for everything else!


Allen, D. (2001). Getting things done: The art of stress-free productivity. New York: Penguin.

Malc. (2013, February 27). Time management made really easy #GTD + #Evernote [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://heymalc.com/time-management-made-really-easy-gtd-evernote#axzz3QrLSbhlX

Ruud. (2009, September 27). Evernote GTD how to [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://ruudhein.com/evernote-gtd

The Internet is Now My Favorite Teacher

After creating an image of my PLN on Monday, I was blown away when I realized how many of my sources that I turn to for help in developing myself as an educator come from the internet. As a teacher in this digital age, and one who has been living abroad for almost seven years, I have been deeply concerned that I won’t be able to keep up with the latest research or the newest, more effective tools for teaching or learning. Until this year, I have relied on quick conversations with my teacher friends in the states to hear what they were doing and to know what I should look more into. I ended up spending ridiculous amounts of money to ship professional books and DVDs that arrived weeks later. Now, there ARE better, cheaper, and much quicker ways to access the ‘latest and greatest’, globally.


This past Fall, I entered the world of online education and MOOCs. Let’s just say it was “love at first course”, even if it was for self-improvement. Since, I have discovered webinars, Twitter, and my new (fabulous) educational technology program at Michigan State. Feeling like a kid, thirsting for knowledge, I can’t get enough.

Starting out on Twitter, I felt that there was too much information to sift through and it was incredibly overwhelming, but I now have learned there are ways and strategies to keep yourself sane. On Twitter, I’ve created lists (Math, Literacy, Technology), so I can quickly see what’s being talked about by the gurus in those specific areas. I also learned about the power of hashtags: I didn’t know you could search for a specific topic by using special code words and find all related texts! #helpful #notscary. Finally, and probably most exciting for me regarding the hashtag, I have finally uncovered what a TweetChat is and how to aggregate the conversation using TweetDeck. #awesome

Using all of these online sources, I am relieved that I won’t be stuck in a time warp and be completely out-of-date if/when I return to the states because I feel that distance and location is no longer a factor in accessing information. This is all very new to me and I know there is still so much to learn, not only about this digital world, but also how to use it to grow to be a better teacher for my future classrooms full of kiddos that I care so much about.

Professional Learning Networks (PLNs)

We all have Professional Learning Networks (PLNs) to keep up with changes in education, stay connected to our colleagues, and even learn some new tips and tricks of the trade. Digitally, the opportunities are growing every year. Below, I show you what my PLN looks like today, January 2015. Maybe next year, I’ll have discovered new ways of learning and connecting with other educators! (Click here if you’re interested in the original popplet with access to the video on MOOCs)

my PLN

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