The Chalk Blog

Marcee Harris

Marcee Harris is the Evaluation and Curriculum Specialist with Learners Edge. She is a veteran elementary teacher with a passion for engaging teachers in equity conversations and working to transform education through technology. On any given evening you can find Marcee having a dance party in her kitchen with her husband and three kids.

Recent Posts

4 Ways to Nurture Creativity in Your Students

Let Your Students' Creativity Shine!Did you know that children are born with a higher capacity for creativity and imagination than adults? According to a study conducted by NASA, out of the 1,600 school children (4-5-year-olds) tested on their ability to develop new and innovative solutions to problems, a full 98% of them fell into the genius category! 

It’s a fact that kids are creative geniuses when they arrive at our school doors, however, this creativity greatly diminishes over time. Perhaps this downward trend occurs because we encourage the safe, secure route in our educational system. Maybe it’s because we teach children to follow directions and to excel on standardized tests that only measure limited knowledge and skills.

So how can teachers help students find their inner creative genius? How can we create a learning environment that honors divergent rather than just convergent thinking? Below we outline 4 great action steps for tapping into your students’ innate ability to create, innovate and solve problems.

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Topics: Instructional Strategies, Student Brain Development, Student Engagement

6 Tricks to Make Learning Sticky!

Designing Brain-Friendly Lessons for Students

Have you ever been in the middle of teaching a lesson, and refer to something students learned days, weeks or months prior, and get this response-- “I’ve never learned that!” or “You never taught us how to do that!” I can’t tell you how many times in my 16-year career I’ve heard my students say this to me. With frustration, I always put it back on the students explaining that I taught them the information last month or that last year's teacher surely covered the skill. 

What I realize now, after learning more about the psychology of learning, is that more often than not those kids were right! The students hadn’t ever really learned the skill I taught them. Most likely they had just memorized information for the test and promptly forgotten. The learning wasn’t relevant, emotionally engaging or connected to prior knowledge, so it didn’t stick! It turns out that while I may have gone through the motions of teaching, the facts and skills just didn’t stay with them.

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Topics: Instructional Strategies, Student Brain Development

5 Technology Practices Every Educator Should STOP Doing!

How to Implement Technology in a Meaningful Way!

My first memories of technology as a student mostly involve magical visits to the computer lab where I would get lost in a game of Oregon Trail or Number Munchers.  In the 80s, technology was a special treat, something extra my classmates and I got to experience on occasion.  Fast forward several years and you’ll find that educational technology has come a long way!  Students now have individual devices available to them at any time and in any place.  There are apps and sites for learning, practicing, publishing and connecting.  Technology has definitely helped to improve the quality of teaching and learning in the 21st century, but educators must always stay vigilant in our efforts to evaluate what’s working and what’s not.

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Topics: Teaching with Technology, Instructional Strategies

7 *Secret* Google Tools for Teachers

Unlock Google’s treasure trove of tools and apps you never knew existed!

We all know (and love) Google’s suite of apps for education—Gmail, Chrome, Drive, Docs, Slides, and Sheets—for creation and collaboration within the classroom. These apps have significantly improved the efficiency and effectiveness of day-to-day learning for millions of students and educators. But did you know that Google has been simultaneously developing tons of other tools behind the scenes that can help students accomplish goals, save time, and think creatively? Check out these 7 “secret” Google tools that are sure to become your new favorites!

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Topics: Teaching with Technology, 21st Century Learning

Instagram for Teachers

Instagram is the New Pinterest for Teachers


While Pinterest is still a great place to gather ideas for your classroom, Instagram is moving up in the ranks as a new teacher favorite. Just like Pinterest, teachers can take inspiration from real classroom teachers, gather resources and stay on top of what’s new.  Get ready for some educational eye candy, because we’ve rounded up our favorite teacher Instagram pages into one stellar list for you. Prepare to be inspired!

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Topics: Technology, 21st Century Learning

7 Steps for Keeping Students Engaged After Spring Break

Passion Projects

Spring Break has come and gone and you’ve (barely) survived the testing season. Summer vacation is near, but the countdown is still in the double digits.  Your students are restless and so are you. What do you do?! How about introducing an activity that sparks joy and intrinsic motivation in your students. One that allows them the freedom to explore areas of personal passion and encourages creative thinking. Something that combines fun and learning.  How about Passion Projects?! 

The Passion Project movement has morphed over decades from a workplace approach to cultivating innovation among employees at 3M to something called 20% time or Genius Hour at Google.  It’s now a popular practice for schools to infuse personalized learning and creativity into their curriculum. Students spend at least one hour each week researching an area of personal interest and designing an engaging multimedia product to be shared with others.   

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Topics: Instructional Strategies, Personalized Continuing Ed

4 Tips for Effective Digital Collaboration in the Classroom

Working together in the classroom

LinkedIn recently reported that two of the top four skills actively sought out by employers were communication and collaboration (with leadership and time management rounding out the list). Educators take note! Much of our time is spent getting kids to memorize their multiplication facts or to understand the difference between a simile and a metaphor while important life skills end up on the backburner. How can we deliver academic content, while also preparing students with the technology and interpersonal skills needed to be successful in the workplace? We’ve put together a list of our top four tips for understanding, facilitating and assessing successful collaboration in the digital classroom.

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Topics: Teaching with Technology, Technology

Virtual & Augmented Reality Field Trips

Explore the World Without Leaving the Classroom

If you haven’t dipped your toes into the world of virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) yet, you and your students are missing out!  You may be thinking, what is this VR/AR buzz all about and how do I fit it into my already busy day?  Well, let me tell you that virtual and augmented reality are becoming popular approaches for teachers to deliver content in an engaging and experiential way.  Students can use whatever devices they have to step into spaces and places that were previously inaccessible.  Think: animal habitats, the pyramids of Egypt or the Globe theater made famous by Shakespeare.  These “real” experiences can support and enhance learning in all subject areas by engaging the senses and immersing students in experiences beyond the four walls of the classroom.

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Topics: Teaching with Technology, Instructional Strategies, 21st Century Learning

For the Love of Reading

3 Key Strategies for Motivating Students to Read

Reading was always my FAVORITE subject in school.  As a kid, I remember raising my hand with unbridled enthusiasm so that I might be chosen to read aloud to the class, “round robin” style.  Whether it was the basal reader, a class novel or worksheet passages, I was hooked.  I just loved to read. Anything. 

This love of reading inevitably lead me to choose teaching as a career, as I’m sure was the case for many educators.  As an elementary reading teacher (and parent of 3 kids), I’ve come to learn that this love of reading does not come naturally to all children.  It’s a challenge for those of us that eat, sleep and breathe books to understand that, for some, reading is a chore.  It is something that is required, or in some cases, something to be avoided at all costs!

Our classrooms are full of kids along the reading spectrum.  So how do we help nurture a love of reading in our students, especially those that are the most reluctant (or even averse!)?  Research tells us that intrinsic motivation is key and that sticker charts and pizza parties can actually decrease motivation.  Yikes!

We’ve put together a list of 3 key research-based strategies that will help build a community of readers and increase intrinsic motivation for even the most reluctant reader in your classroom.

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Topics: Instructional Strategies, Literacy

Supporting Our Teachers & Their Wallets!

Fund Your Classroom Needs with AdoptAClassroom.org

As a society we understand the critical role education plays-- to build a literate and self-sufficient population of citizens. Educators work (to exhaustion!) daily to teach, guide, and mentor our students and more often than not, spend our own money to fund basic needs for our classrooms. Teachers want the best for our students, so when the school or district comes up short, we step in to help. For years there have been philanthropic entities working alongside teachers to support classrooms in need and now with advances in technology, teachers can research options, share their stories, and secure funding with greater ease. 

AdoptAClassroom.org is one such organization working to advance equity in education by connecting classrooms in need with funding.  Since 1998, they’ve partnered with individual donors and corporate sponsors to raise over $36 million for students.  If you’re an educator looking to outfit your classroom with needed materials or get a project idea off the ground, AdoptAClassroom.org can help!   And now, through a recent partnership with Learners Edge, teachers can request funding for professional development needs. I know what you’re thinking: where do I sign up? (right?!) We’ve put together a Quick Start Guide to help you create your AdoptAClassroom.org page and share your story via social media channels.

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Topics: Learners Edge News, Instructional Strategies, Partnerships

Learners Edge is passionately committed to providing you with continuing education coursework, materials, and tools that will help you succeed in your classroom and in your career.

Offering more than 100 print-based or online courses for teachers, you can earn the graduate credit you need for salary advancement and meet your professional development needs. Contact us today to get started!

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