October 2012: Design for the Core… Retooling Your Curriculum with Dynamic Content and Tools

This monthly email will provide tips and tools to help you make the most of your icurio subscription.

Webinar Recording

For many educators the time has come to redesign their instruction to address the new Common Core State Standards. With icurio, dynamic content and powerful learning supports are at your command as you retool existing instructional strategies or discover new ones to address more rigorous standards. Take advantage of the digital content our curriculum team has aligned to CCSS objectives (and your state standards, too) based on both language and intent.


Finding content to address all your objectives starts with the very first search term, and icurio offers multiple paths to match your style and support your instructional needs.

  • From the Discover or home tab, enter your search term and discover standards in the right side of the comprehensive content results ( see how this is done )
  • From the Standards tab, select your state standards or Common Core State Standards and do a keyword search, or drill down to a specific area within the set to search in context ( see how this is done )
  • From your Standards results page, you can also switch between your state and Common Core State Standards to automatically re-search for the same keyword and grade level ( see how this is done )

    *Remember to log in to icurio to access the resources highlighted below. Check out a complete icurio overview video at http://vimeo.com/49181871 .

Focus your efforts to move your existing lessons and instructional design to reflect the new levels of rigor and diversity of high impact standards…

CONTENT AREA FOCUS: Using more content across more curriculum areas

Any comprehensive results page from any search term will let you look at learning content across multiple curriculum lenses.

show and personalize

Check out this great list of starter ideas and resources that work well in cross curricular instruction in elementary grade levels.

CONTENT TYPE FOCUS: Using multiple formats and content characteristics to increase learning opportunities

Another way to look at any of your learning content results or even your comprehensive content results is by content types.

Check out all the different ways to refine your results.

Getting to Know icurio Archives

Trying to find that helpful Getting to Know icurio email? No worries – we have an archive available so that you can see all the great tips and resources from previous issues. The archive is available in our educator community

Our Educator Community is Growing – Join Us!

Where can you connect with hundreds of other educators, get great information about educational transformation, find tips and advice about how to use your digital curriculum content subscription to empower your teaching and become more effective for your own digital transformation? Our educator community! Come check out our blogs, events, content highlights and discussions in the Know New Ideas Community . Our membership has surged to over 2,200 members – join us and be a part of this important conversation.

September 2012: Get the Big Picture – Gather the Different Types of Content You Need from a Single Starting Point

This monthly email will provide tips and tools to help you make the most of your icurio subscription.

Webinar Recording

Looking for digital content can be a real challenge! So many questions to be answered. What standards do I need to cover? How do I know what grade the content is appropriate for? Are there images to bring visual connections to my instruction? Are there videos I can use as a hook for beginning a lesson? icurio can help. From the Discover page, one topic search can help you identify powerful learning resources, images, and standards targeted to a concept and provides multiple lenses with which to view content.

*Remember to log in to icurio to access the resources highlighted below. Check out a complete icurio overview video at




Performing a search from the home page in icurio will bring back digital learning content for your topic. Learning content can be accessed via


  • Keyword search box
  • Subject Navigator
icurio content chart


In the left column of your content results page, you can easily switch between All Results, Learning Content, Images and Standards for teachers. If you focus on Learning Content only, you can:


  • See the entire set of learning content results
  • View and sort by readability, rating and recommendations
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The comprehensive content results page also displays up to four standards related to your keyword for your academic level. This area also provides links to additional standards with that keyword.

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icurio’s Image Search offers a quick and easy way to find images to use in lessons, presentations, and other assignments. You can access the first few images for your keyword from the comprehensive content results page. You then have three choices:


  • Save Image
  • View Image
  • View More Images
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You know best what your students need, so the next step is to personalize your content results using the refinement menus to the left of the content results. These menus make it possible for you to narrow your results by choosing any of the available options. Do you need quotations by a famous American, or perhaps a learning game for a mathematical concept? The Narrow Results menus make it easy to find content within your results that help you personalize instruction for your students.

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Our Educator Community is Growing – Join Us!


Where can you connect with hundreds of other educators, get great information about educational transformation, find tips and advice about how to use your digital curriculum content subscription to empower your teaching and become more effective for your own digital transformation? Our educator community! Come check out our blogs, events, content highlights and discussions in the Know New Ideas Community . Our membership has surged to over 2,200 members – join us and be a part of this important conversation.

Game Based Learning from BrainPOP

Kari Stubbs, PhD
Posted on our original Blog site by Kari Stubbs, PhD

How will YOU use games in YOUR classroom this school year?

Game-Based Learning

BrainPOP’s approach to the use of use of games as teaching, learning, and assessment tools is one way we’re working to rewrite “the laws of learning.” Last summer, we launched GameUp™, featuring top online game titles that tie right in to your curriculum. Our GameUp partners include:

  • American Public Media/The Wilson Center
  • E-Line Media
  • Filament Games
  • Global Kids
  • iCivics
  • JASON Project
  • Learning Games Network
  • MangaHigh
  • MIT Education Arcade/Maryland Public Television
  • NCTM Illuminations
  • Nobelprize.org®
  • Space Science Institute

Through these partnerships, we’ve been able to bring quality educational games to teachers for FREE, pair them with related BrainPOP content, and wrap them with a layer of teacher support like lesson plans and community conversations.

We feature games around math,science,social studies, and health, and the collection is continually growing. Plus, we’ve highlighted both games for play and game creation. We even feature some student created games on our site.

Among the titles featured on GameUp is a civics-themed game called “Budget Hero,” which was developed by American Public Media and the Wilson Center. This simulation puts the player in the shoes of top U.S. policy-makers as they try to balance the budget by weighing priorities including the environment, school funding, and energy without going bust.

Also featured is “Cell Command” by Filament Games, a game in which players are inducted into a fleet that traverses cell walls, completing missions such as encoding amino acids in ribosomes or supervising digestive enzymes in mitochondria. Even adults with a few minutes to spare could play “The Blood Typing Game” by NobelPrize.org®. It challenges players to figure out how lab technicians identify blood types and how blood transfusions are carried out. No matter the subject area, each game exemplifies the overwhelming potential game developers have to help people grasp complex topics in a way that is interactive and lends itself to organic learning.

Check it out.

Research: Teacher Attitudes About Digital Games in the Classroom

BrainPOP recently partnered with the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop to lead a research project, Teacher Attitudes about Digital Games in the Classroom . Five hundred teachers from around the country were surveyed for the study. More than 60 percent of them feel that games helped increase engagement with subject area content among lower-performing students. 62 percent report that games make it easier for them to level lessons and effectively teach the range of learners in their classrooms.

The project’s final report includes a series of video case studies. Each video case study shows an individual teacher who integrates digital games into his or her curriculum in exciting and innovative ways. I want to give you the opportunity to hear from one of these educators: Lisa Parisi, a 4th-grade teacher in New Hyde Park, NY. This particular subject in the case study makes excellent use of freely available games from BrainPOP and MangaHigh to engage her students in challenging math and science content, as well as promote self-directed and project-based learning.


To play these free games, simply visit BrainPOP (www.brainpop.com) and click the GameUp icon. Be sure to check out one of our own newest releases – Guts and Bolts ( www.brainpop.com/games/gutsandbolts).

Teaching is Fun. Learning is Fun. Take time to play. Games. Seriously.

About BrainPOP

How much do you know about BrainPOP? We’re best-known for our digital content – movies, quizzes, games, and other interactive features – trusted since 1999! But we’ve also been involved in some pretty amazing projects since we first came onto the scene, and our collection of teacher- and student-loved tools is always growing. In addition to our core resource, BrainPOP we now also offer:

  • BrainPOP Jr. (K-3)
  • BrainPOP in major world languages including Spanish, French, and Chinese
  • BrainPOP ESL , for English language learners
  • Free mobile educational apps for iOS, Android, and Chrome, including the BrainPOP Featured Movie app; the BrainPOP Jr. Movie of the Week app; and the BrainPOP Español Película del Día app
  • GameUp™ , a collection of carefully vetted educational game titles from leading game creators, all tied in to our content
  • BrainPOP Educators, a free professional community of more than 200,000 members and countless offerings like lesson plans, webinars, video tutorials, graphic organizers, and a rich curriculum calendar

Our resources have become so popular both inside and outside of the classroom that BrainPOP’s global sites host more than 11 million visits each month. We support individual, team, and whole-class learning in traditional, blended, and “flipped” settings. Additionally, our content is mapped to Common Core, aligned to academic standards, and easily searchable with our Standards Tool.

Igniting the Hope of Knowing

Randy Wilhelm
Posted on our original Blog site by Randy Wilhelm
How is it that we come to KNOW something? How does that happen? Learning and knowing happens 24/7, whether there is a system of education involved or not. Kids are born with the natural desire to KNOW things, which is fueled principally by curiosity. They are always asking questions, seeking answers to often very vexing questions, especially from their point of view. Do you remember what it feels like to know something new for the first time? Sometimes kids say knowing, really knowing something new can produce a warm feeling in their chest, maybe from excitement, but not likely from pride. The system of education often looks to external solutions for ways to improve learning. Yet we should simply look inside each student, for each is outfitted with a pretty powerful, curiosity-motivated desire to know. Unleash it, and the results will be exponential, not linear. We have to find more ways to ignite the hope of knowing.

  1. Barriers to Learning

    The system of education has become very focused on measuring learners – What is your IQ? How fast do you read? Can you memorize 50 new facts? With the focus on how ‘smart’ a learner is, they system looses the ability to understand where their interests, passions and talent really lie. Unfortunately, learners are aware of this misplaced focus and quickly learn to play the game (system) rather than expanding their own interests. They loose their built in engagement, motivation and love for learning that is almost uniquely their own.


    I wonder…while recognizing the need for data to understand learning and to drive learning, how do we keep that need from becoming the end game of learning?

    See the full TEDxTalk at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5ap9xe8Lrc

  2. Living in the Question

    Children are experts at asking questions – any adult who has spent a long period of time with young children can give a thousand examples of their endless curiosity, variety, randomness and sometimes pure genius of the questions they ask. That natural curiosity and focus on the “why” removes the concept of implausible from their world – they believe anything is possible. Kids are born to live in the question. Educators can leverage their passion and keep them asking questions by asking good questions and not jumping immediately to deliver the answer. The hope we have for the K-12 experience is that the curiosity to know remains alive and well in each student’s soul.

    I wonder how we can work together to create a learning culture designed to encourage the asking of good questions versus force-feeding the answer?

    See the full TEDxTalk at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5ap9xe8Lrc

  3. The Pendulum of Engagement

    Have you ever learned something new that you would have never thought you would be interested in? Many of the skills needed in college and career are ones that you wouldn’t necessarily seek out yourself – they are so engaging because the need is real, immediate and relevant to solving a problem or answering a question. Engagement has the ability to supercharge a learning situation – to move them from inquiry to investigation, from interest to action. Engagement ignites the student’s hope of knowing, and powers the pendulum of their desire to know. Yet in some cases, the lack of engagement in schools has stilled the pendulum of learning in our kids. Our hope is that the stilled pendulum that is within each child is tapped gently and put back into motion through engagement.

    I wonder, what are some methods we could use that would re-start or accelerate that pendulum of engagement?

    See the full TEDxTalk at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5ap9xe8Lrc

You, Your Network & Your Digital Legacy: Personal Branding for Teachers

Lida Citroen
Posted on our original Blog site by Lida Citroen

You entered the educational field for many reasons. Maybe you are passionate about working with children. Perhaps a great teacher inspired you. Maybe you want to influence the next generation of leaders. Whatever your motivation, you focus on your craft, your skill and your profession. You don’t likely focus on your reputation.

Your reputation is what others think of you. As you interact with fellow educators, students, parents, administrators, your community and other colleagues, they form perceptions of you (your reputation) that impact the value they assign you. That reputation can have a significant correlation to whether or not others want to engage you in the kinds of opportunities and activities you are looking to be involved in.

Perception is reality in the minds of your parents, students, prospects, colleagues, and other stakeholders. Managing and directing that perception and building your legacy could be the most critical tool in your professional tool bag.

What is personal branding?

In my book, “Reputation 360: Creating power through personal branding” I offer this definition:

A brand needs to represent a set of values, promises and expectations and meet those expectations at nearly every step. Branding gives experience to something intangible; it gives names to the qualities I feel when I work or interact with you.

Everyone has a personal brand. It is your reputation and what others use to assign value and relevance to you. A brand is an emotional connection you have with others, and it sets the expectation of an experience of working with you.


Personal branding starts with you

Personal branding begins by understanding what you are passionate about, what you value and how you live an authentic life – what sets you apart?

As you begin to define and build your personal brand, look inside first. Ask yourself:

  • Do people around me feel I am someone who can be trusted with confidential information?
  • Do my students feel heard and respected?
  • Do my actions match my words?
  • What makes me different than other educators?
  • Am I surrounding myself with colleagues who hold the same values I do?
  • Am I living in concert with my beliefs?

Understand the needs of your audience

It is critical that you understand to whom you are positioning your personal brand: your target audience. Your audience holds the opportunities you desire, such as a career promotion or the opportunity to teach at desired institutions. Targeting those audiences and stakeholders who will find you relevant is critical, cuts down on your branding efforts, and makes your “self-promotion” feel more focused.

Create a powerful reputation

It may feel awkward to approach your interactions (in person and online) as part of a reputation strategy. Educators are often not sidetracked with self-promotion. The goal of personal branding is not to brag about yourself but rather to become very intentional about the words you choose, the company you keep and the way you represent yourself to your target audience.

Your reputation… online

Today it seems everyone has a Facebook page, Google+ and Twitter account, LinkedIn profile and he or she blogs incessantly. Should you?

For most of us, social networking plays an important role in building our reputation. Today’s social networking platforms offer the ability to connect with colleagues, parents, thought leaders and other influencers in the profession, to research, collaborate and grow our visibility.

In every action you take online (from posting an update on LinkedIn, to participating in a group on Facebook, to posting a YouTube video explaining a complex algebraic theory your class is struggling with), consider how others will perceive you. Become intentional about the words you choose, the way you communicate and engage others, and how you represent yourself consistently with your values.

Build a strategy for social networking:

In choosing to engage with your current and prospective audiences online, consider these points first:

  1. Apply strategy to your efforts. If you just want to get online and play around, you could damage to your personal and professional reputation – your brand – which is your most precious asset. Create a strategy for how you will engage, where you will become active and how you will measure success from your online activities.
  2. Articulate your value proposition. Educators entering social media need to be clear on what they offer that makes them stand out. What do you offer that makes you unique in your topic. What makes you different from your colleagues?
  3. Be careful. The way you represent you and behave online is public. What you post, share and comment on is public domain if posted in an online forum. Consider who might see your content and what that content will make them feel and believe to be true about you and your expertise, values and reputation. Students, parents, administrators and legislators can all see how you interact online.
  4. Focus on consistency. Educators with strong personal brands show up consistently and authentically. They have achieved genuineness through confidence and experience and through focus and care. Your online contacts expect you to use the same language, tone, posturing and attitude. Across any of the platforms you choose, strive for consistency: be sure to speak, write and represent yourself as the same person I’d meet in the flesh. There is no such thing as “personal vs. professional” since everything online is public.
  5. Focus on relationships. Social networking is all about interacting and forming relationships – professional, personal, and cause-related. Online, we give and take, collaborate, share and discuss; this is what makes the online forum rich and inviting.
  6. Know your audience. Spend the time understanding who and where your target audiences are online. Are they students, fellow educators, legislators and policy makers, parents? How do they engage with each other online? Learn as much as you can before you dive in. Also, learn about your institution’s policies for online activity.
  7. Listen. Your friends, students, parents and colleagues are talking online. They are sharing valuable information about their needs, likes and dislikes. Spend the time to listen and respond appropriately and authentically.
  8. Decide what to say. Not every educator needs to have a pithy blog to be relevant online. Everyone has something to say and there are many forums to offer input, advice, sharing, awareness and best practices. From LinkedIn Groups, to Google+ and Facebook fan pages, to blogs and community sites like Know New Ideas, there are many places to chime in and connect with others.
  9. Get started. Most individuals don’t know where to start with social networking. My advice is to begin by taking inventory of 1. Who you are, 2. Who might care, 3. Where they are, and 4. How you can reach them (using social media).

When building your personal brand – your digital legacy – you control much of the perception others will have of you. As you approach your behavior and interactions with strategy and intention, others begin to recognize your value and relevancy.

Lida Citroën is an international branding and reputation management specialist who enhances the identities of companies, executives and individuals globally. As principal and founder of LIDA360, LLC, she practices an integrated approach to branding, marketing and communications that enhances the total experience and reduces the investment for success.

An accomplished speaker, Lida engages audiences with her empowering message about managing your personal brand and reputation. Lida presents programs for school districts, corporations for non-profit organizations around the U.S. Lida is the author of Reputation 360: Creating Power Through Personal Branding, (Palisades Publishing, 2011) is a best-selling guide to gaining competitive advantage through reputation management.

Isn’t it about TIME?

As a teacher, I was always concerned about time. How much time do I have to cover a topic?


How much material can I cover in one quarter or one school year? What if I run out of time to get it all done?

What if TIME isn’t the core issue? What if the problem was HOW I was spending my time? What if it was about how I was LEVERAGING the time I had with the learners? What if I could be more effective using new resources and tools so that I could make the time in my classroom more meaningful and more about learning?

Now that I have had the time to reflect on my teaching, I can see that the concern about having enough time was misguided. It is a popular myth that coverage of more material by an educator means they are more effective – if you aren’t keeping up with the pacing guide or other teachers in your grade level then you are clearly not doing something right, right? The Common Core State Standards should help in correcting that approach, helping me to get past the need to get through the materials and focus instead on getting important and deep concepts mastered by all the learners. What I have also learned is that the time I had is directly impacted by the types and effectiveness of the resources I used to help me accomplish my instruction. It is easier to decide what resources to spend valuable time with using some general guiding principals:

#1: I can create an environment rich with learning opportunities and approaches that put my students first by simply providing engaging and flexible resources – thus freeing up time to teach. As I look at the time I spent preparing lessons, finding resources to reteach, getting different assessment ideas, and even helping my students stay out of resources that were not relevant to what they were working on I was shocked at how little I had left for actually helping them learn. But, when I focused my energies on providing resources that could take some of the ‘overview’ or ‘introduction’ work for me with different topics, I was able to bake that time I saved back into classroom instruction with individual students.

#2: The more efficient and intuitive a resource is for me as a teacher, the more productive I am. The more productive I am in the planning and managing of instruction the more effective I can be with my students because I have changed the focus of my work from gathering and multi-tasking to tasks centered on creating understanding with my learners.

#3: If resources, like netTrekker, are more intuitive for my students, then I give them the ability to drive their own learning experiences. Streamlining searching for materials, making multiple formats of resources easily accessible, offering organization tools for students to save and share resources and even giving students assistive functions that will help them connect to the material in ways that increase comprehension all make students more capable of helping themselves learn and problem solve when they encounter challenges or don’t understand materials.

So, isn’t it about time I start utilizing all the amazing ways to save time and be more efficient with my time?

Increases in Autism Signal Increased Personalized Learning

How do you know when the vision of personalized learning is advancing? Well, believe it or not, recent news coverage in USA Today and eSchoolNews about Autism is one indication. At this point, you might be saying, “Huh, not sure I follow you.” It’s not that anyone’s excited about the increase in Autism diagnosis rates – not at all. But as you dig deeper, you find greater public awareness for children with unique learning needs, an increased sophistication in the diagnostic methods for identification of unique learning needs, a strong desire to discover the neurobiology nuances that serve as contributing factors, and creative solutions that focus on the child’s unique learning needs. All of these are solid, common threads within learning science research that help us identify the unique needs of each child and increase our sophistication with personalizing learning.

I have some firsthand experience with this. My oldest son was formally diagnosed by the TEACCH program in North Carolina when he was four. In fact, we noticed unique traits in him when he was only a few months old. Most parents are left in the dark because of a lack of awareness and sensitivity to those unique traits. Parents don’t know enough to trust their instincts, and often their family members and even their pediatricians downplay their concerns because of a lack of awareness. You’re told “not to worry about it”, “Kids develop at different rates”, and “He’ll be fine; let’s just wait until the next visit.” Fortunately for my wife and me, we had family members and a pediatrician with an awareness and sensitivity to signs of Autism and encouraged us to seek formal diagnosis. Even more fortunately, our son is thriving in school because of the personalized learning approaches he’s received over the past ten years. So I know, firsthand, the benefits of identifying the unique learning needs of a child and personalizing his learning to maximize his growth. That’s why I’m encouraged by the attention given to Autism. I see the possibilities. I foresee how this attention and the success of Autism research will spill over into an increased desire to personalize learning for every child, regardless of his unique needs.