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Monday, February 28, 2011

edYOUcator opens to broader audience

Have you heard the word yet?

You can now register for a pin number directly from the edYOUcator site. Didn't get access after an email request or taking part in the Twitter drawing? Now's your chance.

Go to Perform a search. Click "Click here." Fill out form. Voila!

Easy as pie.

Happy searching!

One other thing. You can now add YOUR lesson plans, right from the search engine. Just send us your info here.


Don't forget: Send an email to with any questions, problems, suggestions, etc., etc., etc. edYOUcator is still in its very early stages and the only way to make it better is through YOUR feedback. We are looking to supply educators with ONLY THE BEST resources. We want to minimize the amount of searching you have to do to find the best lesson plans or assessments, so we're being very particular about what is added to the search engine. But that also means we want to hear from you, to know what YOU find useful.

The more searches you search, the more questions you question and the more suggestions you suggest, the better it's gonna be.

It's a group effort!

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Friday, February 25, 2011

SchoolE Awards Update for Week 2/19 - 2/25

There are only 2 weeks left until SchoolE nominations close! That means school districts only have the next 2 weeks to get in as many nominations as they can to be a part of the top 15 in their category. Only the top 15 most-nominated districts in each category will move on to the judging round. If you want your school there, tell your friends, family, coworkers, students and community to nominate your district by E-mail, Twitter, Facebook, or even all 3. Don't forget that we will be validating email addresses, so any invalid addresses will be void and those nominations will NOT count.

Even if your school is in the top 15 right now, that doesn't mean it will stay that way. In the final weeks, we expect nominations to grow by thousands, so keep up that nominating! Rockingham County Schools still has the #1 spot, and they are just shy of 1000 nominations. Will any other schools reach it to 1000 nominations before the round ends?

One district that is really starting to make their move is St. James School from Alabama. They received their first nomination only last week but are looking to quickly move up - they were the most active district Thursday with over 41% of the nominations!

Before last week we hadn't even received a nomination from Alabama and now we have multiple districts competing to move on to the next round. Maybe the next state added to our competition will do the same! SchoolE had it's first nomination from Montana by Shepherd Public Schools in Shepherd, MT. Congrats to Shepherd for being the first district to nominate from Montana. With 49 states participating, that means we only have 1 more to go until we've received a nomination from ALL 50 states!

Remember that only the top 15 districts from each category will move on to the judging round. The categories are determined by the number of students enrolled in the district; they are small (less than 7000), medium (7000 - 24,999), and large (25,000 +). The number of nominations each district receives will determine the top 15 districts which will be judged by our expert judging panel. From there, only the top 7 districts from each category based on their scores from the judges will move onto the voting round, where the top district from each category based on validated vote counts will win.

Good luck and keep nominating your district!

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

edYOUcator: How To

So you’ve heard all the buzz about edYOUcator. You might have access or you might still be waiting to receive your pin number, but either way, you'll be using it soon. We want you to help edYOUcator grow. Every day, we index hundreds more of the best lesson plans, units and other instructional materials that we think educators will benefit from, but we want to hear from YOU.

edYOUcator was built for you, the educators. Using the edYOUcator search engine results only in what we believe to be the best resources for educators. As many of you who have used the edYOUcator search engine have seen, it’s easy and simple to use. But there are a few advanced options you may wish to use as well.

  1. When searching use the “Advanced Search Options” to search within a specific subject or grade level. Say you’d like to find crafts for a Kindergarten class. Just type in Crafts and click the “Advanced Search Options” then check the “K” box like so:

  2. To be more specific in your search, choose a subject area to search in by using the drop down menu in the “Advanced Search Options” as shown in the screen shot above. By choosing a subject area, your search is limited to lessons within that subject.
  3. Another edYOUcator feature is being able to preview a page before you visit it. You can do this by hovering your mouse over the magnifying glass by the lesson title. By using this feature and reading the short descriptions you can be sure it’s a plan you’re interested in without even leaving the search page.

  4. Another option is to click “Help” under the search bar. This will bring up a list of helpful ways to type in your search. One helpful way is the Title search. It is used when searching for words or phrases in the title of a lesson. If you search title:”ABC” your results will yield material with “ABC” in the title of the plan.

  5. If you still can't find what you're looking for, then please, please send us an email at That's the only way we'll know to look into the problem and once we're aware of it, we will do everything we can to fix it. We want you to take ownership over this, and we want you to get the most benefit possible.

Here are some more helpful tips to find exactly what you're looking for in you edYOUcator search:

  • Keep it simple - don't complicate your search. There's no need to specify you're looking for a lesson plans, so instead of searching "algebra lesson plans", just search algebra.
  • Use the Advanced Search Options - You can choose one specific grade level or multiple ones and even search within a certain subject area.
  • Keep using it - The more you search the more edYOUcator will grow and the better your search results will become.

So what’s next?

As edYOUcator grows we will be incorporating new features into the site! There are some features in progress:

  • By having an account on the site you’ll be able to fully benefit from these future features, especially ones like tracking and rating your favorite lesson plans.
  • Another feature we’re currently developing is allowing users to search for state specific and national practice assessments. These resources will focus on tests like the SAT, ACT, Texas’ TAKS and New York’s Regent Exams to name a few,and will include helpful practice tests, former exams and answer keys. If you can't find practice assessments from your state, please let us know at
  • Finally one of the features we’re very excited about is allowing educators to be able to contribute their own plans! edYOUcator is a network of educators that we want to share and engage with other educators. While this is not something we’ve added as a feature yet, if you’re interested in contributing lessons please let us know at

As educators you are the focus of edYOUcator! If you’ve been using it, how do you use it and how would you like to use it in the future? Any suggestions on how we can improve? Leave a comment or e-mail us at!

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Monday, February 21, 2011

SchoolE Awards Update for Week 2/12 - 2/18

With only 3 weeks left of the nomination round we are receiving hundreds of SchoolE nominations every day. The schools are definitely competing for their chance to proceed to the judging round. For the 2nd week in a row, Rockingham County Schools is making their presence known. They've inched their way up to the #1 spot in total nominations - beating out Texas's Brownsville ISD and Missouri's Independence 30. Rockingham took over the #1 spot in less than two weeks!

This week has been a busy one for SchoolE we've had 4 new states join the competition! We have now received nominations from every state except 2! The four new districts to first represent their states in the SchoolE awards are:

Montgomery City Schools from Montgomery, AL
Archbishop Spalding High School from Severn, MD
Litchfield School District from Litchfield, NH &
La Salle Academy from Providence, RI

Congrats to these schools - keep nominating! As Rockingham County Schools has shown, it's never too late to break into the top 10 or even the #1 spot.

The SchoolE awards are getting bigger and more active than ever! Even with only 3 weeks left in the nomination round of the competition we still expect to see thousands of more nominations to close out the round! We have received almost four times the amount of nominations than last year, so make sure to keep nominating your district by Facebook, Twitter, and E-mail to move up in the number of nominations or to maintain your position! Remember that only the top 15 schools in each category (Large, Medium, and Small School Districts) will move on to the judging round!

Take advantage of the Top District's profile pages to assess your schools position or see how many nominations you need to catch up with a district in your category!

Tell your friends, collegues and community to nominate your district for SchoolE to get the recognition your districts website deserves!

Good luck to all districts and keep up the nominating!

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Friday, February 18, 2011

DePaul Interview About SMASHUP

Recently I had the chance to speak with Kris Gallagher from DePaul University on how their SMASHUP has changed social media for their school. DePaul’s SMASHUP was launched in October and is one of the first live SMASHUP sites. Kris oversees the social media for the school and manages the SMASHUP.

Q: Why did you want a SMASHUP for your university?
Kris: “We had a lot of people doing social media at DePaul. We maintained a directory page but it was not exciting visually. The SMASHUP made a live feed from everything, showed the most recent posts and the video was much more accessible. By displaying content as it is done in SMASHUP someone could immediately say, ‘Yeah, that’s useful to me.'"

Q: What benefits have you experienced from having a SMASHUP?
Kris: “The SMASHUP is a good central place to have all the University’s social media. It has made the maintenance much easier. People really like it. Also with Google Analytics [integrated] on the SMASHUP it’s now easy to track what’s being looked at - how many visitors the site has, which tools are being used the most and where traffic is coming from.”

Q: What do you like most about SMASHUP?
Kris: “It’s easy to update. You log in, put the info in, and you’re ready to go. Even if I’m gone I can turn it over to someone else and they can manage it easily.”

Q: How often do you make changes to the DePaul SMASHUP? How much time would you say you spend on the SMASHUP monthly?
Kris: “We only make changes about once a month. Mostly we just make sporadic changes when we need to add a new group or change the focus on the main page to a different group. On average it only takes about 3 minutes to make a change. “

Q: Are you using your social media sites more frequently because of SMASHUP?
Kris: “No, but we are pushing out the SMASHUP through social media. By using the SMASHUP we are able to gather and promote information faster and more broadly than before. And now people are more aware of our social media sites.”

Q: Have you pushed the SMASHUP out to your students? If so, how have they responded?
Kris: “We’ve pushed it out through Social Media and there have been no complaints. Students are used to seeing things in this way, so no news is good news. They aren’t complaining about how behind the university is. “

Q: What expectations did you have for SMASHUP? Did it meet them? Exceed? etc?
Kris: “One of our biggest expectations was to create more traffic. SMASHUP has exceeded that. We’ve had about 1700 page visits with each person viewing two or more pages, spending an average of 2 or more minutes on each. SMASHUP has increased the exposure rate. Another expectation was to improve on the directory visually and now with a SMASHUP it looks sharp.”

Q: Do you feel that your SMASHUP is unique to your university? Why?
Kris: “It’s unique in a way; there are other universities that have it but it shows how our university is using our social media compared to other universities. The SMASHUP fits well with our website and by working with the design team at AllofE we were able to incorporate our logo and colors to reflect our overall university site.”

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Friday, February 11, 2011

SchoolE Awards Update for Week 2/5 - 2/11

The SchoolE awards are rocking and rolling this week! We've been receiving hundreds of nominations all week from across the U.S., giving us almost 5,000 nominations thus far. Today alone we've received more than 500 nominations, and most of them (80% to be exact) have come from Rockingham County Schools in Eden, NC. Not only did they break into the Top 10, but they're currently in 3rd for total nominations! Remember: one day of nominating could make all the difference to get your district ahead of the rest!

We also received nominations from Academy 20 in Colorado Springs, Col., and from Aleutians East Borough School District in Sand Point, Alaska, this week, making them the first district nominations from Colorado and Alaska, respectively.

With only 4 weeks left in the nomination round don't forget that only the top 15 most-nominated districts will move on to the judging round, so it's up to you to get your district the recognition you feel it deserves.

Use these tips to increase your chances to move onto the judging round:

  • Use Facebook and Twitter to nominate! Not only does this allow you to nominate up to 3 times (if you nominate via email address, too), it also posts on your Facebook and Twitter pages so your friends can see you've nominated your school district and remind them to nominate too!
  • Use a SchoolE Nominate Badge for your district website. Encourage your district to put a SchoolE nominate button on the district homepage to get even more nominations - you'll find instructions on the top right corner of the Nominate page.
  • Tell your students and community.The majority of nominations are coming in from teachers. Make sure to spread the word to your school staff and students, friends, family and the community to help push your district through to the next round.
  • Don't Stop the Nominations. Even if your school is ahead don't stop nominating. We've seen districts with zero nominations go to the Top 5 within hours. There is no limit on how much a district can be nominated each day, so keep nominating and spreading the word to stay ahead!

Also remember that we have a few new features:

Keep up the nominating and good luck to all districts!

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Introducing: edYOUcator

You may have seen the chatter on Twitter about a new search engine designed especially for educators, called edYOUcator. edYOUcator provides quick and easy access to lesson plans, units and other instructional materials. It aggregates content from many educational resources across the World Wide Web and provides a centralized tool to find information based on subject area, grade, keywords and more, and is only going to get bigger and bigger, especially with YOUR help.

Now, let me take a few minutes to really explain.

How can you gain access?

While the new search engine will launch tomorrow (Feb. 10, 2011), not everyone will be able to access it...yet. We will be selecting a few random users of the #edYOUcator hashtag per day to gain the first access to it - so...
  • If you want to be entered into the random drawing, you must use "#edYOUcator" in your Tweets.
  • I'll be announcing when the drawing will happen throughout the day - I am estimating around 5 per day (give or take) - so follow @allofek12 and pay attention on Monday-Friday between 9-6 CST from Feb 10 - Feb 18.
  • If you're selected, we'll mention you from @allofek12 and ask you to send us a DM with your email address so that we can send you some information on how to log in.

If you really want to go above and beyond, you can request access by sending a really nice email to and we'll see what we can do. After Feb. 18, there will be a sign-up for a request to gain access.

irst adopters that either get selected for access, or request access will be the first to get new features that will be given to account holders, such as tracking favorite lessons, rating lessons, and things like that - so keep that in mind.

Another thing to remember: we are going to be indexing more and more resource-rich websites as edYOUcator grows, and since it's a free service, we WANT contributors (if you would like to be a lesson contributor to edYOUcator, please email

Our goal for the roll-out process is to solicit feedback from educators about the search engine - what they like, don't like, and suggestions. That way, as we roll it out to more people, we'll put our best foot forward. This really is a work-in-progress and as it grows, we want to know what you will benefit most from.

The History

We have vast experience in working with educators across the nation to build the most comprehensive suite of intuitive, web-based applications for K-12 schools to manage everything from curriculum to online assessments to student information to staff professional development. We have worked with administrators and teachers to provide online tools that help them in their everyday lives and better communicate with students, parents, and the community. We've found that there's a void in terms of an easy way for teachers to find really good resources quickly and easily. edYOUcator is our way of filling that void.

The Future

We hope by using that teachers across the world will have easier access to the instructional materials they need to learn better and to teach better. It aims to provide focused content to K-12 teachers by indexing relevant content from across the web combined with high quality educational material from our own dedicated educators.

We want to build a network of educators that share and contribute to this learning repository - so as the search engine grows, there will be more and more opportunities to contribute your own instructional materials and share them with the world.


We are excited to be able to offer this to such a wonderful group of educators we've come to know and love - and we're even more excited to see what you think! We'll be putting out new information as we go, so definitely keep in touch and let us know of any questions you have.

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Education Blackout

The recent Internet blackout in Egypt has left many wondering: “What if that were to happen in the US?” Besides the obvious ramifications of losing the Internet, such as mass riots due to not being able to log onto Facebook to check Farmville accounts, or not being able to tweet what you ate for lunch on Twitter, the biggest effect might very well be on education.

As an educator, student, or parent of a student, just think about how often you get online. Much of modern learning, in the classroom or outside, comes from online sources. In fact, I admittedly don’t watch television news, but I do check the news online everyday. Obviously if there was an Internet blackout I would be forced to adapt to getting my news in different ways, but what about education in universities? Even focusing just on this sector, so much of it is now reliant upon the Internet for teaching, grade reporting, homework, help, and even obtaining degrees. And while yes, we would be able to adapt to this, I believe it would be a very hard transition, especially in a few areas.

Here are some areas I think would be the hardest to transition out of:

Online Degrees

One area of higher education that would be affected the most would be online degree programs - they would absolutely cease to exist. Popular with non-traditional students, such as adults who hold a full-time job already, online degree programs are the most convenient and economical form of education for many. If these programs ceased to exist, many people might not even bother getting their degree or furthering their education.

Not only do students benefit from online degree programs, but universities do too. These programs provide a great amount of money for universities, especially with funding in education being so low.


As any college student would tell you, whether 20 years old or 45, the best, most convenient form of communication with a teacher is through email. Far less intimidating than asking a question in class, much faster than waiting for the next class, and way more beneficial in the long run, email has almost replaced traditional office hours. Although it is most effective to talk to a teacher in person than by email, email provides something a student can refer back to when asking a question. It’s also something teachers can benefit from. How do you easily reach 10 students in a class - call them? Well what about 700? Without email, many students would be afraid to ask questions, couldn’t quickly make up work missed in a class, and possibly miss out on information a teacher was willing to share outside the classroom.

Virtual Learning Environments (Blackboard)

Any teacher I had from high school on loved well-known virtual learning environments like Blackboard. Yet another great place to reach many students at once with information through tools like announcements, these sites allow interactive learning between students and teachers. Things like safe-assign, grade reporting, announcements, blogs, and even pertinent class information can be found in one place online, conveniently. With so many students having grown up with Blackboard and sites like it, transitioning away from it to a less interactive way of learning might very well hinder some students.


Online homework is a go-to for many classes. Many teachers use online homework tools that are associated with the textbook for the class. Pearson, for example, has many “labs” that connect with their textbooks, giving helpful tips, homework problems, and study guides. Online homework can also help with students who like to work ahead - they aren’t forced to learn at the speed of the rest of the class. These come in really handy, especially with language classes. A student is capable of seeing and hearing lessons even outside of the classroom.

Not only would online homework be affected without the Internet, but traditional homework would be as well. The quickest way of learning about anything is a quick search on the Internet. Students have quickly learned what are acceptable sources and use them for research. While there are encyclopedias, dictionaries, and well written books on topics, updating and using those takes lots of time. Students can learn more when they are researching with faster means - and most of the resources I mentioned are available for search online.

I know I haven’t even touch the tip of the iceberg when it comes to education online, so as educators, students, and parents of students - what would you miss most in education during an Internet blackout?

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Five Weeks Until SchoolE Nominations End - Where are we now?

With just five weeks left until the SchoolE Awards end, nominations are pouring in and the race is getting tight! Between 50 and 100+ nominations come in each day and the numbers are growing as we near closer to the finish line.

As of today, the top 10 school districts in terms of nominations are as follows:
  1. Independence 30 (MO)
  2. Brownsville ISD (TX)
  3. North Allegheny SD (PA)
  4. Danville Independent (KY)
  5. Groton School District (CT)
  6. University Academy (KS)
  7. New Milford (NJ)
  8. Upper Darby SD (PA)
  9. Township HSD 214 (IL)
  10. Zachary Community Schools (LA)
As you can see, the top 10 list is a diverse crowd from all over the United States. A cool thing to note: half of the top 10 schools are small school districts, and they make up for 35% of the total amount of nominations received for the top 10 nominees.

The SchoolE Awards website has received over 8,000 unique visitors and 17,000 page views with hits coming from all 50 states. Not only has the site been actively viewed in the U.S., it has also been getting international attention with more than 43 countries having viewed the SchoolE Awards site. A few other things to note:
  • The majority of the nominations are coming in through e-mail. --> Let me just say, that districts should encourage nominating through Facebook and Twitter to significantly improve their odds - and increase their nominations!
  • Votes from almost all 50 states
  • We have much more than doubled the number of total nominations we received last year
  • The majority of nominations are coming in from teachers (Why not get more students and the community more involved?)
Check out the new district profiles we recently added to the SchoolE Award site and let us know if you would like your district featured. To learn more about the district profiles click here.

The nominations phase for the SchoolE Awards ends March 11, 2011—so spread the word and keep up the good work! Best of luck to all participating districts!


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Never Underestimate the Knowledge of Kids

Back when it came time for me to apply and choose a college, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to go far from home. While most of my friends were eager to spread their wings and finally take the opportunity to get out of the suburbs of Kansas City, I had three little things weighing on my decision.

Those three little things are named Joe, Jimmy, and Johnny—my three little brothers. My parents did things a bit differently than the average American family and when my two older brothers and I left the nest, they decided to have more kids. The day Joe was born, I went from the former baby of the family to older sister, ‘built-in-babysitter’, and in a lot of ways—a second mom. Two years after Joe was born came Jimmy, and two years after Jimmy came Johnny. To say that those three little boys are my whole world would be an understatement- I absolutely adore them.

So when it came time for me to leave for college—KU was a perfect fit. It was far enough away for me to have my own life, but close enough to come home on Sunday afternoons for dinner, to do laundry, and most importantly, to see my little brothers. When I moved to Lawrence for my first semester of college, the transition went surprisingly smoothly. The little ones readjusted to my new presence in their life, and I fit right in to my new college life.

But something changed when I went back home for a month over the holidays one year. Johnny (the baby) was finally old enough to fully understand things. It was almost as if he rediscovered who I was for that month that I was home—and when it came time for me to leave, he was absolutely beside himself. The day before I left, he was my little shadow. Whether I was packing my clothes or running last minute errands, he didn’t leave my side. By 8 that night, my mom finally broke the news that it was bedtime—and the flood gates opened. As I held my crying 4 year-old brother in my arms, I tried to explain that I would come back home to see him soon. But in his innocent mind all he could focus on was goodbye.

As hard as it was to leave him, I had to continue my own life. But one thing eased the pain of my absence for Johnny—Skype. Johnny recently had his first Skype experience. As I sat talking with him, it blew my mind that at the age of 4 he could actually see his sister and talk to her over a computer. When I was 4 I didn’t even know what a computer was. Jimmy, my six year old brother, is able to take my blackberry, find the games, and use my touch screen to beat MY high score. Joe, the 8 year old, can get on a computer by himself, type in his school’s website, and check what is for lunch. Pretty amazing, huh?

Watching how technologically advanced kids are at such young ages makes it almost a no-brainer to use technology in the classroom. Not only do times change, they change fast. Technology is what today’s kids have grown up around-- it’s an area they are comfortable with, and it’s most definitely not going anywhere. We need to make sure that America’s classrooms are not only keeping up with the current times, but that they are catering to the way children learn best. We shouldn’t underestimate how ready and prepared children are to use technology in the classroom.

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