Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Use Kahoot in PE Class!

Kahoot is a game-based classroom response system.   This easy to use application can be used on just about any browser enabled device.  Most of the time Kahoot is used to perform interactive quizzes in classrooms.  What you might not know is that it can be a great tool to use in gym class as well.  Here is how:

First learn how to Kahoot at  Next it is time to organize your gym class activity.  You will need the following:

At least two devices that run Kahoot, although this activity can be expanded to as many devices as you would like.  Kahoot works with almost any device, so it could be a cell phone, laptop or tablet.

Projector, or TV hooked up to the host computer (You could probably just use a laptop if you are creative).  This will display the questions that the teams will be seeing before they race to answer the questions. 

Set up the projector at one end of the gym where both teams can read the questions on the floor.  Divide your students into two or more relay teams.  Place the answering devices at the other end of the gym, or at the end of an obstacle course. 

Your Kahoot questions will be displayed on the screen.  When the first student in the relay knows the answer they can take off running.  They will race to the other device that will allow them to answer the question. 

Now, Kahoot keeps score.  The score is based on getting the answer correct and how quickly the responses are entered.  The next relay member will start as soon as the teacher is ready.  This allows the teacher to keep a great pace to the lesson, check for knowledge of content, while also grading physical performance of the teams.  You won’t be able to win if you get the questions wrong, and you have a better chance of winning if you are able to race to the answering device as quick as possible.  It is the perfect balance of mind and body. 

Enjoy this awesome Kahoot activity after completing your Kyte Learning Course!

-Jason Cross-

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The League of Legends World Championships Start Today

Watch live video from Riot Games on
Video games continue to grow into something beyond a simple game.  They have reached sport status and this week the League of Legends World Championships begin in France.  League of Legends is the most popular video game in the world with 67 million players.  It is a popular game because of it's  five player match ups that allow for both strategy and skill.  

The World Championship is comprised of 16 teams that had to qualify from events in many different countries.  These teams are from the US, Europe, Korea, China and Twain.  Just like with most sports, it takes a bit of knowledge to make the connection as to what is happening.  When you make the connection however, it is just as exciting as any current sport offering.  If you have never seen an eSport live, this is a good opportunity to check it out!

The video above is a live stream.  When the event is live you will be able to watch video, but when the event is over you will no longer see any video.  


Wednesday, September 23, 2015



E-Sports is on the rise, and schools all over the country are beginning to adopt this new cultural establishment into their future plans.  Games like League of Legends, Dota 2 and Heroes of the Storm are drawing huge crowds but they all suffer from the same problem.  Online harassment. 

These games are competitive, and combined with the perceived anonymity of the web, you have a recipe for poor behavior.  Game companies like Blizzard and Riot are working hard to ban violators who are repeatedly reported for vulgarity and harassment.  While those involved in E-Sports directly are doing their part to bring sportsmanship into the 21st century, schools will soon also have a role to play. 

Schools, please embrace E-Sports.

As these E-Sports are brought into schools, there is a really valuable opportunity to teach digital citizenship to students in a meaningful way.  The perception of digital citizenship has always been tied to students harassing people over twitter.  It is so much more than this.  Through a successful E-Sports program in your school, you can bring sportsmanship to the forefront of your school culture.  You can engage in conversations with students about the complexities of living in a digital age, while learning from what is happening in the sport.  And finally you can teach them to make wise decisions with their money, time and energy. 

Here are some potential opportunities to utilize E-Sports in your classroom to help bring along the discussion of digital citizenship using the Nine Themes of Digital Citizenship as a guide:

1.         Digital Access  - Teachers can utilize the discussion of E-Sports to talk about what it means to participate in an electronic world.  The discussion can be opened up about what access to digital materials really means to our society and why it is important that all people have equal access to information.  Without access, E-Sports don’t happen.   

2.         Digital Commerce – Many video games these days are Free to Play.  This means that you can download the video game and play for free.  Just because they are Free to Play doesn’t mean they don’t cost money however. There are lots of great items for purchase and we need to be responsible in those decisions.  It is an opportunity to talk about the business of gaming and why game companies have adopted the Free to Play model.  You can talk about economies of scale and what it means financially to the end user.  

3.        Digital Communication – E-Sports is doing a great job of bringing people together, online and off.  There are lots of great communication tools out there, but many students to not realize that they are engaged in communication when they are playing these games.  They have a responsibility to handle those communications in an appropriate manor.  It is essential that students are taught about how to communicate effectively, (even network) while in game.  It should be taught that games are not a place for harassment, but opportunity.  

4.         Digital Literacy – While playing a game might not seem like it is teaching digital literacy, it really is.  E-Sport games are increasingly complex.  Gamers need to know about frame rates, bandwidth and latency.  They have to understand the relationship of how games are processed through CPU and GPU processors for maximum performance.  As a teacher you can speak to dozens of IT related topics like storage capacity, server locations and even the process by which gamers login to games.  The key is to be adaptable, and in my opinion, gamers are very adaptable to new technologies.  

5.         Digital Etiquette – Since digital communication is a part of E-Sports, Digital Etiquette one of the more difficult issues to address in gaming today.  This is the part of the game that most gaming companies are battling constantly in order to keep gamers from being inappropriate and ruining others fun.  In school this used to be called Sportsmanship, but in the digital age it has been clumped in with Digital Citizenship.  But really the same rules that apply to sports could also be applied to Digital Etiquette.  Teachers we could teach the following sportsmanship guidelines in relation to the games they play. (These rules are from the article Be a Good Sport, a Guide to Sportsmanship.)

  • Being a team player, and getting the whole team involved.  Gamers sometimes exclude others, and it is important to teach how to be inclusive.  
  • Staying positive when things don’t go your way. When a member of your team is not performing very well, making them feel bad about it isn’t the answer.  Use that opportunity to help lift them up and help that player perform better the next time they compete. 
  • Trash talking is not as acceptable as people think, and it can go too far quickly.  Pop culture has glorified trash talk as a part of sports culture, but the facts are that this type of behavior usually escalates quickly into harassment. Combine trash talking with the perceived anonymity of electronic communication and you sometimes get very harassing behavior.     
  • Lose with grace.  Teach students how to lose.  Teach them that losing is acceptable and part of life. We have moments where we just don’t win.  And we have to learn to lose with grace and style.
  • Win with class.  Winning is easy, and being classy about it should also not be difficult.  Demonstrating to students the proper way to win should be an important part of your E-Sports program, as well as something that will be easy for your students to replicate if they are victorious.  They just need to see what it looks like.
6.         Digital Law – E-Sports are a great way to present digital law to your students.  By simply showing them the agreement that they all agree to before they create an account with a game, you will introduce your students dozens of valuable topics and potential lessons about digital rights and contracts.  It is also important to talk with all of your students about digital theft.  Much like Digital Etiquette, the anonymity of the computer sometimes can be a perceived safe area to make poor choices.  But it really isn’t.  This is also a great place to jump into business topics and discuss why digital laws are important to business. 

7.         Digital Rights and Responsibilities – Various games provide the users with various rights.  And those rights sometimes don’t always line up with what gamers believe that their rights are.  For instance, playing many games in a way that they were not intended to be played can be a violation of the agreement made between the gamer and the game company.   Just because the game has a glitch doesn’t give a person a free pass to exploit it.  I believe that this rule could also be very valuable when communicating with students about life.  Just because you can, doesn’t always mean that you should.

8.         Digital Health and Wellness – Games are fun.  And sometimes games can be addictive.  It is important for all participants of games to look at their health and wellness and find balance with their lives.  This can be a difficult subject to teach, but something that is a real opportunity for educators to help students learn responsibility and build confidence in how they manage their own lives.

9.         Digital Security – Sometimes bad people do bad things on the internet.  Games are a huge business and this has attracted a wide variety of illegal activity that can impact lives in and out of game.  This is a springboard for educators to talk about protecting their valuables with passwords, keeping information private and making good smart decisions with in-game and out of game money.    And for those of you who are wondering about that last statement, yes, there are people that want to steal your in-game money as badly as your out of game real world money.  

I am confident that E-Sports are going to be a large part of the public and private school education.  I suspect that they will become one of the few co-ed opportunities that will compete with some of the large sports for participation and acceptance in the future.  E-Sports represent one of the best opportunities for educators to teach students about how to become good digital citizens.  By embracing E-Sports in your school, you are actually providing an opportunity to many students to participate in a learning opportunity that will carry with them for years to come.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Finding your Core Applications

Schools are adopting technology.  And lots of it.  Most schools are now getting a grasp on their one to one initiatives.  There is sufficient planning for the infrastructure, bandwidth and IT systems.  Teachers are more prepared and accepting of utilizing technology in their lesson plans.  There is a breakdown however that relates to consistency for the student population as a whole.  While it is important that we teach students to be flexible in an ever changing technology landscape, not having a core set of applications for a school building can lead to an increased frustration level, and a lack of productivity.  There are core applications that we utilize each day for the purpose of productivity.  It is this core group of products that needs to be consistent in your school to help both students and staff get the most out of your technology program. 

Core Applications

There are at least five ways to do anything with an computer.  If you want to write a document as an example, you can use Microsoft Word, Pages, Google Docs, Evernote, and Notepad.  I could make this list go for pages if I really attempted.  With so many great and capable options out there it isn’t important that you pick the right one, it is just important that you pick the one.  I am surprised when I visit schools and from classroom to classroom, and even from student to student I see multiple word processors being used.  

While I can see a benefit to students choosing their own path to productivity, it ultimately ends up creating confusion and the classroom workflow suffers.  When it suffers too much, the technology is pushed to the side and frustration sets in.  There are some applications that just need to be the core of your technology program.  As a bonus, if this core set of applications is adopted by your entire school, there will be an instant increase in productivity through the common usage of these products.  It also lets you create training that is focused like a laser beam on the key competencies of applications that are being used. 

Using the example above, the word processor, we can examine the breakdowns that occur when we all use a different one.  First of all, the storage of the files is different in each case.  Google stores documents in the cloud, pages stores them on the iPad or Macbook, Microsoft Office might be any combination of those.  This one aspect can create confusion for students and staff.  If I say, “write a paper and turn it in using the LMS”, each person will have a different experience with that task.  The Google user might need to convert the file, save it to their drive, and submit a link.  The Pages user might need to upload the file to the LMS directly after converting it using an export process to a file type that is recognized by the teacher.  The process is completely different for each user.  So when one user has a break down and is not able to complete the task, the teacher then becomes tech support.  And there is nothing worse than having to stop your learning to become the Genius Bar. 

The solution is simple.  There is a core set of applications that we utilize in our everyday work activities that should be made policy by the school.  And even those couple teachers that are tied to a different system should be flexible enough to encourage the consistency for well being of the entire school team.  While this sounds like a simple objective, it really isn’t as easy as it might appear on the surface. -Jason Cross- Copyright 2015

Again, going back to our word processor example, there are several other considerations to think through before you make a firm decision.  You need to think through the workflow of your school and even district procedures.  Some districts have close ties with Microsoft Products and are already implementing them at some level.  Schools might have adopted Google Mail for their teachers already, and use Google Drive to store files.  Some situations have private servers in the building that allow for secure access to documents, with nothing being stored in the cloud.  Each of these elements will help determine which word processor will be the best solution.  As an example, if you are using One Drive to store all of your documents in school, Microsoft Word might be an excellent choice because it offers great interactivity with that solution.  Your district LMS system might have specific integration with Google, or Pages which would make that a great choice.  Below I have listed some of the things to think about when planning out your program.

Where are the files going to be stored?  LMS, Cloud Storage, Private Server.
Has there been something in place for a while?  If so, how satisfied are you with the workflow it has provided?
What works best with the type of technology you have in the building?  Example: If you have Chromebooks, you might not like the Microsoft Office solution.
How much complexity do you want in your applications?
Which system do you think will most likely be adopted by the entire team?

Now on to the good stuff.  The core applications themselves.  This list is just a sample of which applications I believe should be at the core of an educational technology program.  Your school will probably be able to add to the list.  It is ok to have more Core Applications, as long as they meet the needs of your educational goals. -Jason Cross- Copyright 2015

Word Processor Spreadsheet

Lets start with the “Big Two.  These are at the core of how students will get work done.  With these three carefully chosen applications you can create amazing technology education programs.  You can build, create and design beautiful works of art and articled ideas. 

File Storage

Next, the elephant in the room.  The most fragmented part of most school technology programs I have visited over the last ten years.  Where are students and staff going to store the files they create?  How are they going to get files from this location to a place where they can be turned in and feedback provided?


The most overlooked, but necessary system is the Learning Management System, referred to as the LMS.  In some cases the LMS will determine which file storage and Big Two solution that you choose.  LMS systems come in a large variety.  Some work with your schools grade book, others operate like social media and offer gasification.  It is a big world out there when looking for an LMS.  It is the central nervous system of your school technology program however as it allows for the most efficient digital workflow possible.  Having a single LMS in your school is important to a consistent, productive program.

Web Browser

Almost every device comes with a default web browser, but often this is changed because of a particular need that one of your applications might have.  For instance you might need to use the Chrome browser with the Google Apps suite to get the most out of the product.  Although it is sometimes overlooked, having a single web browser that performs most everything you need is very helpful as it adds consistency to bookmarking and searching activities.  

Note Taking

When you ask your students to use their devices to take notes, let them know which application you want them to take notes in.  Most devices have a very simple note taking solution built in, but the ability for students to work with that information later can vary.  You might want to use something advanced like Evernote or OneNote.  Sometimes using the word processor that you have selected is the best solution.  The key is to minimize the choices and make sure that you are establishing which solution works for your classroom and school.


The overlooked tool in the information age.  We take them for granted, but they are all not the same.  You will want to find that perfect solution for your school.  Having a single calculator will make the workflow in your classroom quicker and more responsive.

Book Reader

If you are having your students checkout and read books on their devices, you will want to have a single place for them to go.  Some apple like iBooks offers note taking capabilities that might help students organize thoughts and information.  Having multiple places to read books will most likely result in your students just wanting to check out the paper version.  Not that there is anything wrong with that.  Just keep it consistent to help your classroom workflow stay smooth.

QR Code Scanner

This is one of the tricks of the digital educator that gets students to and from information with ease and speed.  It breaks down when one student has a different QR code reader than another one.  Once again,  teachers are asked to be tech support when multiple readers are being used.   The solution is simple, one common QR code reader.  I recommend that a couple bucks is shelled out for the paid version of these apps as well.  Advertisements can confuse the process. 


There are so many calendar applications out there that most schools just don’t use them at all.  Sometimes there are calendars in the LMS, specific apps, and even the devices that you are using.  Pick the calendar solution that makes the most sense and is available to access in the largest variety of ways.  I like calendars that can also be shared with parents as it allows them to get a hands on view of what is happening in the classroom. -Jason Cross- Copyright 2015


The camera is one of the most important parts of the modern technology classroom. This tool can be the fax machine, the photo copier, and the way that artwork and imagery is turned in electronically.  It can also be a class in itself!   Make sure you have a camera available to your students to assist them with typical classroom workflow activities.

Photo Editing

When working with imagery you need a way to crop, size and change those graphics.  Having a common photo editing tool will assist your classroom consistency and will give you a reliable tool for creative workflow.  When students understand how to brighten an image, or add words and captions, it will open up the door to lots of innovative ways to demonstrate mastery. 

Video Editing

If you are having students work with video, come up with a single solution for the editing of that video product.  Make sure it has lots of ways to export the completed work into compact video files that can be stored on the method of file storage that you have chosen.  Large video files are almost useless in the classroom.  Make use of online technologies that also allow the files to be uploaded and converted into web formats that are easy to work with.  


Presentation software could really make the Big Two, the Big Three.  The only problem is that there are so many great solutions out there.  This will be the one time where maybe you don’t need to have just one.  My opinion is to keep it to a couple that offer very different functionality however.  I would recommend a standard presentation tool like Power Point or Keynote, but also an alternative such as Prezi or Adobe Voice.  This will keep your choices few, and the pre-requisites down to a minimum, but will give you the ability to assign a variety of work types. 


This can be a debated topic.  I believe email is a workforce essential and therefore should be taught in schools.  I also think that once students are writing, they can write emails.  This is really about school district policy however.  You need to work with your school and district to determine if email is right for your school.  If you decide to use it, pick an email platform that will most closely resemble a real world work environment.  Expose students to the ways communication and work is done in the modern workplace. 

Sound Recorder

Sound is a powerful method for your students to demonstrate mastery.  While it is often overlooked, some applications such as Notability make it an integral part of the application.  You will want a default, go-to method of allowing your students to record their voice and submit those recording for feedback.  Just like with the video, you want to choose a method that allows for small file sizes.  Pro Tip:  Make sure your students are given a time limit.  Short recordings are the best recordings!

Video/Sound Player

Your students will need a method of playing back videos and sounds that are part of their learning.  Web browsers offer some of this functionality, but each device is different.  Make sure that you have a default player for your video and sound files. 

Wrap Up

As an educator, your students will benefit from consistency.  As a school each of your teachers and administrators will have a good frame of reference with your tech program when you have a set of core applications.  Districts will find that the costs of your technology program will be significantly less when you have a go to set of apps that you can get volume pricing on.  It will also allow for fewer more consistent updates.  Once you have established this core set of applications, the rest of the program is easy to build.  You can add new and exciting ideas into your classroom on this foundation of rock solid software.

-Jason Cross- Copyright 2015