Clif’s Notes on Education and Technology

Techcellence Conference


Bartlett City Schools has announced plans and dates for the Techcellence Conference in March. The conference is open to all educators in our area.

The conference takes place Saturday, March 23rd from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM at Bon Lin Middle School (3862 N. Germantown Rd, 38133).

Cost: Free

Educational Connections

Educators currently practicing in the field present innovative lessons, strategies, and ideas to peers who seek to enhance the use of technology in their classroom. There will be 45-minute sessions during which educators will present innovative lessons, strategies, and ideas.


To register as an attendant and/or presenter, visit the links below. All participants, including presenters, must register using the registration link. This is open to all educators in our area, for free!


Apply to Present:

DIY: Awesome Skills for Awesome Kids

DIY home page

Guest Blogger
Raina Burditt

Why is a platform for students to learn new skills and share what they make and do with a global community. Educators can use to explore skill-based learning and introduce collaboration into their classrooms. Teachers can blend the Skills platform into their core curriculum, or let their students explore new subjects while practicing skills.

How to use

Each skill links to challenges that users can complete to earn a badge. The badge is virtual, but a real woven patch can also be purchased. After completing a challenge, users can post photos and/or video of their project to inspire others and to solicit feedback. Click here to see the skills students can earn patches for. Additionally, users are able to build an online portfolio of their work on the platform.

Check out this video overview from Marvin Puspoki:

Examples of

Resources for

How to make a club

ReMaking Education: Designing Classroom Makerspaces for Transformative Learning

Makers in the Classroom: A How-To Guide

About the Author

Raina Burditt is currently a technology teacher at Memphis University School in Memphis, TN. She trains both students and teachers in technology integration. She has presented at Tennessee Teach Meet, the TAIS Biennial Conference, the TAIS Technology Conference, the Lausanne Learning Institute, the Mid-South Technology Conference, and the AMLE Conference for Middle Level Educators.

Making Math Meaningful through Reading and Writing

Math class? You bet.
[Wikimedia commons]


Reading and writing with math enables students to process real-world applications of math. Similar to mathematics, reading involves two parts of a thinking process: the transfer of information to the reader and the comprehension of that information on the part of the reader. Writing engages both hemispheres of the brain, as the learner generates ideas and organizes them. Writing allows students to clarify their thoughts and allows teachers insight into students’ thinking, making it valuable in the math classroom.


Getting Started

Consider the learning goals for your students, then choose the type of reading and/or writing activity that meets the goals. For improved comprehension, you might have students write about a math concept you’ve introduced to them, asking them to write an explanation of the concept to a friend. For helping students understand real-world applications of math, you might ask students to read current news articles involving math and share a summary with a classmate.

Implementing reading and writing encourages students who enjoy reading and writing more than the computational process of math and increases deeper understanding of mathematical concepts.

Educational Connections

Ways to use reading and writing in math class:

Writing prompts:

  • Thoughts, concerns, feelings regarding math class
  • Journaling
  • Math autobiography
  • Letter to the teacher
  • Freewriting
  • Math concept or process
  • Effort in class, goals, study habits

Use current articles demonstrating mathematics embedded in real life:

  • Provide students with articles, have them create magazine of excerpts from articles
  • Ask students to find articles on their own including real-world math; students can choose the topic based on their interests
  • Students read the article, summarize it, and compile it into an online magazine

Assessment can be completed via a writing rubric that includes effective communication and content understanding


Example: Student-produced Math Magazine Publication:

Reading and Writing in the Mathematics Classroom:

Reading and Writing in Math Class:

Vaunt Glasses by Intel



Would you wear tech on your face? That is a bet that Intel is willing to take with its new Vaunt glasses, which aim to bring you information about the world in as direct a manner as possible–straight into your eyes.  Essentially, the glasses work by using a safe laser to project information onto a holographic mirror, which then reflects directly through your eyeball and onto your retina as a kind of heads up display (HUD). This technology is called retinal projection; the information is “painted” onto the back of your retina. Because of the way this projection works, each pair of glasses must be individually fitted so that the laser is calibrated to focus on your eye. By using retinal projection, the image is clearly seen in the lower right visual field of the wearer but is invisible to an outside observer. Intel also wanted the Vaunt to be unobtrusive. If you are not looking slightly down at the display, the image completely disappears, leaving you with an unobstructed, uncluttered view of your surroundings.

These glasses are meant to be sleek and discreet. The glasses themselves just look like normal, plastic-framed eyewear; and they even work with regular glasses prescriptions. These glasses are designed to be very simple. There’s no swiping or hand motions. You simply look down if you want to read a notification or look the opposite way to dismiss. Perhaps most importantly, they’re comfortable to wear all day, weighing little more than a standard pair of glasses. Because they look like normal glasses and the HUD is invisible to bystanders, no one would necessarily know you were wearing smart glasses at all.  

Far from showing you an endless roll of tweets and Instagram likes, Intel hopes that the Vaunt glasses will allow you to interact with your environment in a new, intelligent way using the Vaunt’s AI.  In addition to its laser, the Vaunt also contains Bluetooth, an app processor, a projected 18 hours worth of battery, and sensors that allow it to know when you turn your head so it can guess what you’re looking at. They hope that this hardware will allow the Vaunt to do a wide variety of things, such as showing you directions to your destination after you parked your car or showing you which of two restaurants you are looking at has a better Yelp review.  The possibilities are truly endless.

These glasses will soon be available through early access to independent developers who will find even more unique uses for the glasses.  They will be compatible with both iPhones as well as Android devices, and they will likely be found wherever regular glasses are sold–like your local eyecare provider.  Augmented reality is no longer just for video games and taking funny pictures, but could become a part of grocery shopping, walking through a new city, or cooking dinner at home. Contextually relevant, concise information is just a glance away.

Thoughts From Future Teachers

Future teachers appear to be split as to whether or not they could imagine themselves wearing smart glasses.  About two-thirds were unsure, while the remaining third were split between those for and against the Vaunt glasses.


While they were not sure whether or not they themselves would feel comfortable wearing smart glasses, future teachers appeared to be more accepting of others wearing them. About two-thirds of those surveyed responded that they would be comfortable with others wearing smart glasses in social places, while the remaining third remained unsure. No respondent reported that they would be definitely uncomfortable with others wearing smart glasses.

When asked what benefits they would see from glasses of this type, future teachers responded by pointing out that it would make information more accessible and that it would allow one to appear less rude by checking notifications in social situations. Maggie pointed out, “I would have better options based on the information provided from the glasses, so decision making will be a lot easier and quicker.” Some respondents also noted improved driver safety, like Tyara, who commented, “Well, if the glasses show you notifications like an iPhone, and you were driving, I think it would cause less wrecks because you wouldn’t have to look down at your phone.”

When asked about specific benefits that these glasses may have in the classroom, many future teachers were concerned about the glasses being more of a distraction that a helpful learning tool. Some respondents did think of some potential classroom uses, however. For example, Caroline mentioned that the glass could help with “reminders of homework or classwork due. [They could help with] Not having to ask the teacher for certain things, the glasses will just show you what to do.” Taira suggested, “The glasses could be used by a student or a professor when giving a lecture or a presentation in the way that the words are displayed in the glasses so they can keep their eyes on the class and do not have to rely on memorization.”

Related Resources

Vaunt glasses were built to be discreet, but not all wearable tech is. This article in Digital Trends highlights some novel, revolutionary, and at times downright strange-looking, wearable tech.

While Google Glasses, a predecessor to the Vaunt, never took off as many had hoped they would, many teachers were already talking about ways to incorporate smart glasses in the classroom.

Moverio smart glasses have already been used in creative assignments for elementary school children in Japan.


Bohn, D.  (2018, Feb. 5).  Intel made smart glasses that look normal.  The Verge.  Retrieved from

Dormehl, L.  (2018, Feb. 6).  The weirdest, wildest, and most wonderful wearables in the world.  Digital Trends.  Retrieved from

Epson Corporation.  (2016, Aug. 1). Elementary school students use Moverio smart glasses as class communication tool.  Retrieved from

Rauschnabel, P.  (2015, Aug. 8). Student projects: Value creation with smart glasses.  Retrieved from

Special acknowledgement is also given to the Teacher Education Students at the University of Memphis who provided survey data.

Primary Sources: NewseumED Tools

Your class may not be able to travel all the way to Washington D.C. to visit the Newseum–the museum of news–but you can still take advantage of the Newseum’s archive through NewseumED Tools! NewseumED offers a wealth of tools for teachers, but one thing that sets it apart is its primary source material.

NewseumED’s search engine allows for you to search for materials by state, time period, topic, type of artifact, and more. You can access Life magazine covers from the 1930s; you can have access to international newspapers.  Primary sources are easy to access.  

NewseumED also has suggestions for how to best incorporate their artifacts into your lesson plans, including media literacy activities. The EDCommunity allows you to communicate with other teachers. EDCollections contains curated groups of artifacts on a variety of potential topics, including the First Amendment, the Civil Rights Movement, and Women’s Suffrage.

Getting Started

  • Dive into a historiography lesson by exploring how different news outlets from different regions covered the same event
  • Spice up a foreign language class by accessing real historical documents in their original language
  • Teach your students the difference between primary and secondary sources–and what can be learned from each

Foster a Life-Long Love of Stories with Storybird

Simply put, Storybird uses beautiful images to inspire students to write.  Choose one of three formats: picture book, long-form, and poetry. With the picture book format, choose images from Storybird’s enormous image library. By arranging these pictures thoughtfully, a story forms. 

The poetry format allows students to drag and drop words anywhere onto Storybird’s artwork. This encourages students to draw connections between words, images, and the emotion that both evoke in tandem. Finally, long-form allows students to really push their writing skills. While Storybird’s image library provides creative scaffolding, students may use an image to write a chapter that is thousands of words long, which in turn may be tied to other chapters to form a whole book.

Storybird Studio was made to be teacher-friendly.  You can onboard your students, assign projects, and review their work all in one secure place.  The feature that really sets Storybird apart, however, is its fundraising capability. Storybird will actually professionally print and bind your students’ stories for parents to buy, and 30 percent of the profits will go right back into your classroom.

Getting Started

You can sign up for Storybird, for free, right here.

Incorporate Storybird into your next lesson plan:

  • Use Storybird’s image library to create a story skeleton and teach students about fundamental plot elements (rising action, climax, falling action, denouement, etc.)
  • Make poetry more fun and accessible by using Storybird’s poetry form
  • Encourage creativity and a life-long love of stories by encouraging your students to share their creations with the class

Bring Adventure to the Classroom with Classcraft

Classcraft is one of many tools available to teachers and educators that “gamifies” the learning experience. But what sets Classcraft apart is that it’s more than a technique applied to one lesson–Classcraft gamifies the entire classroom experience.

Here’s how it works: students create their own role-playing game (RPG) style characters and form collaborative groups or “parties.” Classcraft helps you to create an enthusiastic, motivated, cooperative classroom by rewarding positive behaviors and punishing negative behaviors through a graphically beautiful and highly immersive system. Award your students experience points for turning in homework on time, answering a question correctly, or making an encouraging remark to a classmate. After accumulating enough experience points, students can purchase “abilities” that are tied to real-world rewards such as getting to turn in an assignment a day late or getting a hint on an exam. Bad behaviors such as tardiness can be punished by taking away “health points.” If a student loses enough health points, just like in a video game, they “fall in battle.” What’s more, when one student falls in battle, everyone in their party loses health points. This incentivizes students to work together and hold each other accountable for keeping the class on track.

classcraft treasure chest
This is just the beginning of the adventure with Classcraft.  Transform your lesson plans into interactive “quests.”  Use a “volume meter” to keep your students working diligently and reward treasure to a silent classroom.  Convert grades into experience points to further motivate students. You can present formal assessments as exciting boss battles!

Getting Started

Request a free trial of Classcraft here.  Once granted access, you will be able to do a host of exciting things, including:

  • Reward experience and deducting health points for effective behavior management
  • Transform your lesson plans into interactive “quests”
  • Use a volume meter to keep your students working diligently
  • Convert grades into experience points to further motivate students
  • Present formalized assessments as exciting boss battles

Related Resources

Educators interested in adding even more gamification into their classroom may also be interested in:

Interview: Tim Scott on Latest Book “The Dragon King”

Talking Ed. with Tim Scott

Episode 011 (View entire series)

Tim Scott discusses the unique qualities of his latest book involving heroic yet relatable family characters in a fast-paced series.

Tim takes the leap as a full-time writer, connecting with others through story. He finds full-time writing a frightening, challenging, rewarding experience and shares the intriguing process of developing a plot twist.

Visit Tim Scott’s site: