Economy of Class

In the words of Pink Floyd, “Money, get away. Get a good job with more pay and you’re ok.”

I chose to return to the classroom this year and one of the biggest challenges of being a classroom teacher is finding a way to motivate students.

I hesitate to say classroom management because no one wants to be managed. They want to be motivated. Maybe that’s what I’ll call it: classroom motivation plan.

To read the specifics of set up and resources, check out My Classroom Economy. In addition, I have students deposit their money into their Bankaroo. Keep in mind with Bankaroo you are limited to 1 class of max 30 students.

I want to talk more about the impact it has had on my classroom.

1) Addressing curriculum – math and social studies:
I started out giving students their balance, but after two weeks of doing banking everyday I gave students their previous balance and had them add and subtract based on if they were depositing, withdrawing, or purchasing. Likewise, when students made purchases of multiples of the same thing, they started out doing repeated addition and moved to multiplication when they were ready. Economics are a required part of 3rd grade curriculum in Nevada. When certain items became popular, I raised the price and we talked about supply and demand.

2) Building community:
One of the positive side effects to using a classroom economy is that it allows students to build up the sense of community among them. I have students who choose to loan money to other students and purchase things for their friends. Likewise, they can share ideas for rewards or fines. Students with behavior plans or point sheets, have consistent motivation. I reward my students who use point sheets by paying them for earning 9 or more positive behavior points for the hour.

3) Natural and real life consequences:
Perhaps the most obvious natural benefit to using a classroom economy is that students get to see the results of their choices and how it impacts their financial well-being. They get to experience what is necessary to get what they want and see the consequences of negative choices as well. Financial literacy is something absent from our everyday curriculum and this is one way to begin to include it in a meaningful way. This is especially beneficial for students who do not have the advantage of receiving financial education at home.

If you would like to know more about my workflow, please tweet me: @WebersWords

E Highlighter for Close Reading

by @chocolateteacher

eHighligher is a pretty nifty way to integrate both physical books and technology into your close reading activities.  The app is reasonably priced at $1.99 and offers real value with minimal risk.

Say you are using a text book, reading a novel with your students, engaging in research, or having students read independently with certain goals in mind.  You have iDevices at your disposal and you want to integrate notetaking and transcription into the activity.  eHighlighter could be a tool you might employ.

Have Barcode? Will Scan

The first thing I love about the app is that you can acquire a books bona fides (title, Author’s name, and publisher) by just scanning the book’s barcode.  The app uses WorldCat, “The World’s Largest Library Catalog,” for reference and the speed in which it returns results is impressive.

If you’d rather search for the book and edition you possess, that option is available as well as just manual entering the information.

You scan a barcode and..."Voila!"

You scan a barcode and…”Voila!”

If you can take a picture…

Then you can bring in your text pretty easily.  Once the picture is added, you’ll have options to add page numbers, any notes and tags, which will give you the ability to organize any work you’ve done.

Take picture, bring in your text

Take picture, bring in your text

Adding a Note (for Metacognition)

Want a response to a text dependent question?  Want to record an “Aha!” moment, a question about the text, or something to bring up during class discussion? Make a note of it.

Notes for Metacognition? That's convenient.

Notes for Metacognition? That’s convenient.


You’ll be prompted to add highlights to the beginning and ending of the text you’d like to have transcribed.  This is my only real beef with the app.  It can take a while to transcribe something.  The good thing is that I wouldn’t necessarily be using the device for transcription as the original image and note you take are always available for viewing.

Even if the transcription process is labored, the functionality of the app makes it one that both teachers and students could use effectively.

It's not perfect, but it's pretty darn close

It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty darn close

Yakit, Hack it

by @chocolateteacher

I love Yakit kids. All the apps in which one can manipulate pictures tend to make me smile. It seems I’m easily assumed.  Yakit kids can be applied to many aspects of your classroom besides the obvious ones.  This app can tilt the “Dopeness” scale positively and it’s really easy to use.  Even my kindergarten friends on my day job can manipulative it pretty adroitly.

A Portrait of a Student as a Strange Man (or Woman)

I was never a great artist.  Try as I might, my dream of being Van Gogh took a rather large tumble quite early in life.  I still love to doodle and draw however.  If you want to integrate a bit of art into your classroom duirng your literacy block, you might do this…

1. Have students choose a character from a story that you’re reading.  It could be independent reading or a story everyone is enjoying.

2. Give out some construction paper or printer paper and ask students to choose a scenario that the character finds herselfr or himself in.  They should be mindful of the setting, the character’s attitude, and actions during the scenario.

3.  Have the students draw the character by beginning with a large circle (or another shape) as the head.  DO NOT HAVE STUDENT ADD EYES, EYEBROWS, LIPS, OR A NOSE.

4. Add a rendition of the setting that the character finds herself or himself in the background.

5.  Open the Yakit App on your iDevice and click on the camera to take a picture of the newly drawn artistic work.

6.  Have students add whatever flourishes they’d like, including the eyes, nose, mouth, etc., and then record themselves as if they are the character.

7.  Finished products can be shared by text message, AirDrop, Cloud Storage, or with an app like WeTransfer rather easily.


Now, this one takes a little more imagination.  Apps like Doceri, Educreations, Showme are far easier apps to pull tutorials off. They’re not half as much fun to use as Tellagami or Yakit kids because you can add an avatar or speaking image and you have to use a little ingenuity.

One way you might use Yakit kids to have students do tutorials, say in math, is the following.

1. Have students write a math problem down on something.  I’d use a white board personally, but you could just use a sheet of paper. Then take a picture of the white board from within the Yakit kids app.

2. Have students script how the problem would be solved.  Using storyboarding here would be awesome.

3. Armed with a script, pull in one of the characters into the scene in Yakit kids.  Have students record the first part of script/storyboard, then immediately stop as soon as they are done.

4. Press “Add a Scene” and change your math problem to fit the criteria necessary for the next part of the script/storyboard.

5. Add the new picture and continue the same process until the problem is explained.

*The only issue with this functionality is that there is a limit amount of recording time. 

You can just keep it Basic

So if you want to be basic, just use Yakit to take a selfie and make it run it’s mouth.  This is great for any subject area.  Also, you can just bring in any picture of any figure from historical period and then make him or her bend to your will.  To avoid complications with copyrights, one might acquire pictures from a site like Photos for Class so citations will be made for you.

Let It Flow, Let It Flow

by: @weberswords

I’ll spare you the “Let It Go” parody video.


Creating word art: the only thing Wordle is good for.

What is it? It’s a great buzzword, but why is it valuable?

One of the big misconceptions is that workflow requires technology. That’s not the case.

It’s simply the way in which your work……..flows. The way it progresses from one stage or process to the next.

In the classroom, writing is a great example of this. In many cases, first you prepare an outline or work in a graphic organizer, then you draft, revise, edit, and write the final draft or publish.

This can also be applied to doing tasks. For example, if I think of something I have to do I might write it down on a sticky note. After I have five (completely arbitrary number it could be three or 10 just as easily) sticky notes, I sort those tasks into categories of to do lists – errands I have to leave the house to do, professional tasks, and tasks that can be done at home. After that, I write them in my handy, dandy notebook and as I finish those tasks, I mark them off. No tech involved. Yes, AND a great example of effective workflow.

To do list workflow

To quote the late, great Stuart Scott, “BOO-YA!” workflow. No special degree required, people. You can totes do this.

Just like planning in the classroom, you have to know WHAT you want to do before you bring in any technology.

In the case of workflow, sometimes seeing what other people have done will inspire you to create a new workflow.

Just remember: The point of creating a workflow is to make things MORE streamlined, not more complicated.

If you create a new workflow and find it’s actually making work more difficult, I’m giving you permission right here and now. ABANDON SHIP! Try something new, but reflect and learn from the failure. Where did the workflow go wrong? Maybe you don’t have to abandon it entirely, just pivot. Tweak it and see if that helps.

Here are some tools and workflows (digital and analog) *I* use that will hopefully inspire you:

Bullet Journal – Webs-style (Analog)

We love journals here at Intelligent Hoodlums. It’s a bit of a love affair for some of us (*cough* @chocolateteacher *cough*). Writing things by hand helps you remember things.  I’ve adapted my bullet journal to something that works for me.

[Everything in the next paragraph is something I talk about in the video so don’t watch AND read. Save yourself some time and do one or the other. The video might clarify if you can’t visualize what I’m talking about though]

In addition to the index and summary of the month I have a summary of the week where I record events that will occur when I’m looking ahead at the week and events that do occur as things happen during the week. I also fold my pages into two columns and record one or two days worth of to dos and events in a single column. This way I can fold the page and focus on just one or two days or open up both pages and see the whole week.

Automator (OS X)

I think this is a hidden gem of OS X. If you have a Mac and you haven’t peeped this check it out. Go to spotlight and search Automator or from your Launchpad it’s in the Other folder.

Other folder

I’m pretty sure I’ve barely scratched the surface of what is possible with Automator. I use it for three major things:

  •  One double click = quitting all open programs

Quit all buttonThis sits on my desktop and all I have to do is double click to close everything that’s open on my computer.

  • I created a pseudo-program that generated a random writing prompt for my students to practice the state writing test.
  • Bulk editing photos: You know how your camera or phone names your photos IMG9829829829834928 and you have no idea those are your pictures from your 2012 trip to Tahiti? With Automator you can select a group of pictures and rename them complete with date and a numbering system in a couple clicks and a few seconds.

IFTTT (web, Android, & iOS)

Workflow screen capture


Similar to Workflow and Automator, IFTTT, which stands for If This Then That, takes tasks you already do and puts them together to make you MORE ALL POWERFUL (MUAHAHAHAHAAA). IFTTT is available on the web, iOS, or, if you’re so inclined, Android.

In the examples I shared, if I lose my phone and email myself with #lostphone, it will call my phone and an automated voice says Liam Neeson’s monologue from Taken.

Other things I do with IFTTT are:

  • Favorite tweets get sent to Pocket to read later
  • I can send things to Evernote and they get automatically organized by the way I hashtag them in the subject. For example, if I had an Evernote notebook for 3rd period algebra, I could email #3rdperiod and all my notes would automatically go into the right notebook.
  • I have a secondary backup of my contacts because any new contact I add gets sent to a Google Drive spreadsheet.

Workflow (iOS)

This app is pretty sweet.

Photo Jan 19, 9 44 48 AM

This is the app that prompted this post. The world is pretty much your oyster on this one (as long as you have iOS 8). You can put together as complex or as simple a workflow as you like. I have one that allows me to speed dial from my home screen. That’s one of the best features IMO. I can save workflows to my home screen for one touch access.

Hopefully this has given you some insight into the mysterious term “workflow” and shown you how you can become a productivity ninja using these concepts and tools.

QR Codes and Watch Dogs

Watch Dogs is a video game that reminds me of some of the early 90s movies I grew up with, like The Net and Hackers.  Cinema of this kind played on fears of the unknown, underground, darker side of technology that often involved making use of back doors hidden in systems, uncovering some vast illegal plot that a group of seemingly ne’er do well-type individuals were the only chance of thwarting.  Watch Dogs takes that idea on a sandbox-style ride, sadly rife with stereotypes and predictable tropes in the form of the main playable character being an angsty white male.


Character qualms aside, this video game has a really interesting feature that serves as a side activity that can fill in some pieces of the storyline.  You are charged with tracking down QR codes, scanning them and then listening to the audio files as pieces to a puzzle in the storyline.  It’s not as simple as hunting down the QR codes and taking a snapshot with your cell phone.  In Watch Dogs, you have to be standing in a very specific place to image the QR code, otherwise part of it is obstructed.


The hunt begins!

The hunt begins!

This is one of the QR codes that can clearly only be scanned from the right position on a nearby rooftop.

This is one of the QR codes that can clearly only be scanned from the right position on a nearby rooftop.

Once in the right position, you can look at the QR code straight on and take a snapshot of it with the camera on your cell phone.

Once in the right position, you can look at the QR code straight on and take a snapshot of it with the camera on your cell phone.

QR codes, if you aren’t familiar, are a fantastic way to condense a whole lot of information into a tiny pixelated label. You will see these on product packing, shipments, price labels; they are incredibly helpful for a variety of industries. Naturally, these codes have some excellent applications for education. If space is limited with whatever students are producing or you need a link to provide more information, it’s QR codes to the rescue.

Here’s a short list of ideas I find to be very effective at harnessing the power of QR codes:

  • Put in the library, when scanned they open a student-made audio or video review of the book in hand.
  • Attached to dioramas, art projects, or any other physical creations, they link to an online report, a journal, or some additional information generated by the student to describe the item in more detail.
  • Added to a poster board with limited space, they can easily double the content of a presentation by linking to a Prezi, PowerPoint or some other digital tool.

The list above is mainly for students to make use of, but what if teachers want to find a place for QR codes in their own assignments?

It’s completely doable and the main reason I connect it to a video game such as Watch Dogs. In the game you are required to hunt around for the perfect location to capture all of the pixels in the QR code, otherwise the link to the audio file will not activate. It sounds like a perfect treasure-hunting type activity for some kinesthetic learning in the classroom. Print oversized versions of the codes so that they can be broken into pieces that either have to be assembled or can only be scanned from certain positions in the room. In this way, half the fun is figuring out the correct positioning before you can even get to the reward of what’s behind the QR code itself.

HTML Metacognitive Markers and Close Reading

Close Reading is the rage.  Coding is the rage.  Why not mix the two?  You want your students to “mark up” the text with metacognitive markers?  Why not use HTML or Markdown? You’d be killing two birds with one stone without having them touch a computer at all.

My advice? Make sure that students have interactive notebooks for the complex texts that they’re reading so that they’ll have plenty of space to “code” their thoughts.  After all, coding is just a language and language is used to express yourself.

An example anchor chart might look like this…HTML and Metacognitive Makers (2)

Link to the Infographic

Preparing for the SBAC: Edmodo and Augmenting Your Assessment

by @chocolateteacher

With the SBAC quickly approaching, teachers are looking for looking for ways to challenge students through assessment.  Edmodo and its competitor, Schoology, offer solutions to this problem.  They both not only offer quiz functionality, but also ways to augment the quizzes so they are more robust and thought provoking.

Since my day job is in a school district which endorses Edmodo,  we’ll examine ways to augment a quiz using that LMS.


1. Log into Your Edmodo

Your ability to generate a quiz is rather easy to locate once you log in.  Click on it and then the blue “Create a Quiz” button.

Find your "Quiz" button

Find your “Quiz” button

2. Choose Your Question Type

You can choose multiple question types. Vary them as necessary.

Edmodo Quiz 2


3. Add Your Question

Choose your question type and type the question you’d like your students to answer.

Edmodo Quiz 3

 4. Augment Your Quiz

It’s rather easy to simply type some text for the questions and answers.  Nothing is really remarkable about that.  To pump up your assessment, add multimedia, images, and text to the questions that will force students to function on the highest levels of Bloom’s.

You can add multimedia and resources from any place on the web via a link or from any resource that is placed in your Edmodo library. Clicking on the “link” to the left under your question to add your weblink.  Click the “book” to the right of the “link” to add a resource form your library.

Edmodo Quiz 4

5. Resources that You Can Add to Your Quiz

In the example, I linked a video from GoAnimate.  There are tons of sites that can make your quizzes more enjoyable, challenging, and engaging.






Edmodo Quiz 5Resources you might use to augment? (There are thousands.  They are a google search away.)

Video/Presentation: WeVideo, GoAnimate, Animoto 

Presentation:, Visme, Bunkr, Haiku Deck

Audio: Vocaroo, Audioboom, Speakpipe

Visuals: Pixton, Storyboard That, MakeBeliefsComixPhotopin,

Close Reading Tool: Crocodoc

by @chocolateteacher

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 1.06.57 AM

With the current “Close” Reading craze, teachers are looking for tools.  Using your Interactive White Board is a good thing.  But what if you take your students to the computer lab? Use Crocodoc.  All you need is a PDF of the complex text and use the tools that are provided.

Use this for a walkthrough of how you could use Crocodoc to mark text during your Close Reading.