5 superstar celebrities who were once teachers

I thought we might do something a little lighthearted to finish off the week by providing some reinforcement to never give up on chasing your dreams if you aspire to be a superstar outside the classroom, as well as inside.

Today we are going to look at five big names from around the world who were once teachers.  

I am sure that they still sit around today wishing that they could attend staff meetings and be out on yard duty again in between counting their millions and running the world.





When he was known to the world as Gordon Sumner 'Sting' worked as a middle school teacher in England for two years in the early seventies.  If you take a listen to the song "Don't stand so close to me' you can hear that Sting definitely has experience working in schools before.  Is there any link to reality there?  I guess we'll never know.

J.K Rowling


Miss Hogwarts worked as a foreign Englsih teacher in Portugal.  She credits many of her characters inspiration from her experiences in the staff room and classroom.  Especially the nasty ones.

Barack Obama


Don't give up your aspirations of ruling the world just yet.  Barack Obama even worked in education once too.  Although he is a lawyer by trade Obama taught law at the University of Chicago.  He was offered more work as a lecturer but apparently he had bigger fish to fry.

Gene Simmons 

Before he deciding all he wanted to do was rock and roll all night and party every day.  Gene Simmons was a high school teacher.  Gene shared his well thought out insight when answering this question - So which do you think is harder: teaching or being a rock star? “It depends how high you want to reach,” Simmons told PARADE. “The rewards are much greater in the music business, but the pitfalls are very deep.” Plus, a room of students is harder to impress than a group of hardcore fans. “[When teaching], you’re in front of an audience who may not want to be there,” he says. “[As a rockstar], you’re in front of an audience who worships at your feet!”  Truer words may not have been spoken.

Sheryl Crow 


Before getting into showbiz, and a serious relationship with the most famous drug cheat in sporting history she was a teacher.  Sheryl Crow started her path to fame in front of the classroom. She taught music at Kellison Elementary school in Fenton, Missouri while working on her music. After selling a “back-to-school” jingle and other songs, she moved up as a songwriter for larger brands, then sang backup for Michael Jackson before gaining stardom in her own right with “All I Wanna Do Is Have Some Fun."

How to create a classroom website

New Class Website.jpg

A classroom website can be one of the best tools you can utilize to showcase the great things happening in your classroom.

Some teachers already have a great class website or blog and today we are going to look at what you need to do to build classroom website of your own.

So what’s the difference between a classroom website and a classroom blog?

A blog is like an online diary of articles and discussion topics that readers can subscribe and respond to.  A traditional website is more so a repository of static content.  Over the last few years these two areas have blurred into each other.  Any web creation platform worth a pinch of salt will offer both of these options to you but a blog is probably going to be of far more use than a static site.

What is the purpose of a classroom Blog?

Always connected Learning:  Your classroom website should allow students to contribute from home to a topic that has been discussed in the classroom.  Alternately, you can include follow up content such as tutorial videos for students and parents who might need assistance in a specific area.

Communication:  In its simplest form a classroom website should be a bulletin board of news and events that are relevant to your class. 

A sense of pride:  Your classroom website should be a great bragging point not only your students should feel proud of as it contains great examples of their work, but it should also serve as an excellent portfolio of your teaching craft should you apply for a promotion or another job.

What should it contain?

  “For instance “Where have we seen natural disasters in the news this week?”

What it should not contain?

Of course if you are intending to share your classroom with the world you need to provide and adhere to some cyber safety guidelines about not sharing personal information and always ensure you have parental permission.

Never let your website become a platform for cyber bullying or criticism.  Moderate it at least once a week.

What is the best platform for success?

There are literally hundreds of options here if you run a Google Search but here are my top three picks from personal experience.

Weebly:  Probably the web’s easiest blogging and website creation tool for beginners through to novices.  It is free to get started but you can buy a full featured premium package for a few dollars per month.  The great thing about Weebly is that allows you to create simple password protected pages that your students can feel a little safer on.

Blogger.  This is Google’s blogging platform tool and it is totally free. It will create a great classroom blog and that is about it.  If you already have a Gmail account you are already registered.  Simple drag and drop interface and can be integrated easily into your existing school website.

Edublogs:  If you are a WordPress user this will seem like the easiest thing in the world to you.  If you are not I would not recommend starting here.  I really only included because of the massive user base Wordpress has.  If you get stuck on Blogger or Edublogs there is no 24/7 support to help you out but there are millions of users on forums who can help.


How to write a great essay in ten simple steps


Thanks to literacyideas.com for these great tips for parents, teachers and students about writing essays.  Many students get anxious about how to approach an essay, but these ten tips will make it a logical and simple process.


Remember that if you are looking for more great free resources and structured guides to teaching all aspects of English especially writing be sure to visit literacyideas.com

If you would like some great essay topic suggestions be sure to check our recommendations here.

1.   Examine the essay question carefully

o   Highlight key words.

o   Use the dictionary to check the meaning of any unfamiliar words.

o   Identify the task words that indicate what needs to be done, eg ‘discuss', ‘explain', ‘compare'.

o   Identify the topic words that indicate the particular subject of the essay, eg the character of ‘Juliet' in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, the ‘causes' of World War 1.

o   Identify any limiting words that restrict the discussion to a particular area, eg in ‘Chapters 1-3', during the ‘nineteenth century'.

2.   Finalize any necessary reading or research as background to the essay

o   Be selective: use sources which are relevant and accessible.

o   Write notes in your own words.

o   Write down quotations that may be particularly useful, but ensure the source of these quotes is acknowledged if they're used.

o   Take note of sources so they can be provided in footnotes and the bibliography.

3.   Brainstorm your ideas in response to the question

o   Jot down any relevant points.

o   Make note of any relevant evidence or quotes that come to mind.

o   Use a mind map to help stimulate lateral thinking.

4.   Construct a thesis (idea/argument) that encapsulates the response to the question

o   The thesis should be a statement that strongly expresses the overall response to the question.

o   Avoid a thesis that's too simplistic – show thought has been put into some of the complexities behind the question.

o   The thesis is the backbone of the essay – it will be stated in the introduction. It also needs to be referred to several times in the essay before restating it and demonstrating how it has been proven in the conclusion.

5.   Write a plan for the response

o   Order ideas in a logical sequence.

o   Make sure every point in the plan is relevant to the question.

o   After the plan has been written it should be clear where the essay is going. 

6.   Write the introduction

o   Open up the discussion.

o   Introduce the thesis.

o   Indicate how the questions will be answered.

o   Name any texts to be discussed, if appropriate.

o   Engage the reader.

7.   Write the main body of the essay

o   Ensure each point is given a new paragraph.

o   Use words or phrases at the start of each paragraph that will indicate to the reader how it relates to the previous paragraph, eg, 'however', ‘in addition', ‘nevertheless', ‘moreover'.

o   Start each paragraph with a topic sentence that clearly links the paragraph to the rest of the essay, eg "A striking example of Gary Crew's use of light and darkness imagery to suggest notions of knowledge and ignorance occurs in the scene on the jetty".

o   Provide supporting evidence for each point that you make.

o   Revisit the thesis, and express it in different ways if possible, to emphasise how the question is being addressed. 

8.   Write your essay conclusion

o   Summarise the main ideas.

o   Demonstrate how you have proven your thesis.

o   Finish with an interesting or thought-provoking, but relevant, comment.

9.   Edit the draft

o   Check for spelling, punctuation and grammar.

o   Delete any sections that are not particularly relevant.

o   Change vocabulary to improve expression.

o   Seek feedback from peers or a teacher before writing the final copy.

10.                  Write the final copy

o   Add any footnotes or bibliography if required.

o   Present a clean, neat copy.

o   Submit on time.

5 Google Docs Tutorial Videos for Busy Teachers

Google Gooru is a great site for teachers to check out if they need to know more about integrating Google into their workflow and accessing all of those great collaboration tools which exist within Google Apps. 


Below are 5 well organised tutorials that will make your understanding of Google Docs greater and allow you get more out of this great suite of tools. 



How to transfer ownership of a Google Doc

Learn how to transfer ownership of a Doc as a user or an admin. An ownership transfer can be performed as a user within Google Drive, while Admins can perform this task in the Google Apps Control Panel, or by using a 3rd party tool. In this video we highlight FlashPanel.


Introduction to Google Plus Circles

Google Plus Circles are one of the best ways to share and receive social content with the right people. A staple of G+, Circles allow you to segment your friends, family and co-workers into easy to manage groups.

For example, if you’d like to share an interesting article with people you work with, you can set-up a circle with all of your important contacts.

How to Print Your Google Calendar

Posted on: May 03, 2012     | 42 comments

Gooru Tip - Maximize the video player and adjust video quality for optimal viewing!

Printing your Google Calendar is super easy. All you have to do is:

  1. Go to the More dropdown in the top right
  2. Click print
  3. You’ll have two options – print or save as .pdf
  4. You’ll have multiple formatting options, including the orientation of the calendar (portrait or landscape)
  5. You can show or not show events that you have declined
  6. You can choose black and white if you are printing in black and white, for better contrast
  7. Hit print or save as .pdf and you’re done!

How to add your template to the Template Gallery

1. Open up Google Drive

2. Check off the Google Doc that you’d like to save as your template

3. Click “More” on the top

4. Select “Submit to template gallery”

Adding a table of Contents to a Google Doc

In this video, I show you how to add a table of contents to a Google Doc in two different ways. One way is by changing the specified text to “headlines” and then inserting a Table of Contents, which automatically creates links to your headlines. The other way is by making your headlines into bookmarks and then inserting links to your bookmarks at the beginning of the document.

The fact that you can create a table of contents on a Doc is one of the many benefits of using Google Docs and the fact that it is all on the internet. Once you watch this video, you’ll see how easy it is to add a table of contents to any Google Doc.


5 YouTube Tips for Busy Teachers and Students

YouTube is one of the most underused teaching resources on the web.  It offer millions of hours quality viewing made by some of the biggest names in the industry for free.  

As a teacher it is your job to sort the good from the bad and define a purpose for this medium; which is in most cases a pretty simple task.

Below I have put together my top five tips for teachers to help them get the most out of YouTube as a powerful teaching learning tool.

Create a YouTube Channel of your own.

Let’s get one thing straight you don’t actually need to create your own videos to create a channel you simply need to add videos to your channel.  This is really handy for teachers because it allows you to organize your favorite YouTube clips exactly how you would like them and you can invite visitors, pose questions and share comments without the rest of the world having their say. watch the video below.

Download your videos to watch offline in HD quality

You can download practically any video stream off the web with RealPlayer basic.  In HD too.  Install the program, and every time you load a YouTube clip it will have the option to download it locally to your PC.

Embed YouTube into PowerPoint Slides and web pages.

This is really easy to do.  If you have a web presence or a presentation simply follow these guides below to ensure your video is accessible via your website, blog or presentation.

YouTube: An Insider's Guide to Climbing the Charts
By Alan Lastufka, Michael W. Dean

Add Quizzes to your Videos

“Now kid’s today we are going to watch a documentary.  Please ensure that you take notes as there will be 5 questions you need to answer throughout the clip via a quiz.”   This really enhances student engagement and gives teachers a greater purpose as to why you are watching a clip.  Click here to see how to do it.

Add annotations, links and subtitles to your videos.

So you’ve just uploaded a YouTube video but forgot to add subtitles or annotations.  Don’t worry; you can do all of this directly from YouTube by following this guide.

20 Google Docs Secrets for busy teachers and students.

Google Docs for Teachers and Students

Google Docs for Teachers and Students

Google Docs has revolutionised the way we create and edit content on the web.  It is a genuine collaboration tool like nothing that has come before it.

Up to 50 people can simultaneously edit a spreadsheet, presentation or document at no expense, and it is available on all mobile and desktop platforms.

Today we are going to look at 20 great tips every teacher and student should be using to get the most of the collaborative learning opportunities Google Doc’s offers.

Allow editing without signing in: If you’re sharing a document with classmates who don’t have a Google login, just make it available to edit without signing in.

Chat away: In Google Docs, you can see anyone who is currently editing the document, and if needed, send a message to chat with them.

Embed Docs anywhere: Get a link to your document or spreadsheet, and you can embed or publish it anywhere, including Facebook or a class blog.

Insert facts: Using Google Spreadsheet, it’s easy to insert facts, like a countries’ population, which is simply pulled through the Google search engine.

Create graphs: Visuals are great tools for getting your point across. Using charts in Google Spreadsheets, you can create your very own information-sharing graphs.

Create forms: Gather research information; ask for opinions, and more by creating Forms in Google Docs.

Convert PDFs to images and text: Use Google Docs to make PDFs easily editable.

Save to different file types: You can easily save your documents and spreadsheets to commonly used file types like DOC, XLS, CSV, and HTML.

Automatically add email addresses: If you have Google Apps, the email addresses of the people who fill out the form will automatically be saved.

Hide chat: Keep everyone quiet during your presentation by clicking the left side of the chat module.

Track edits and changes: In Google Docs you can go back and forth between edits that you or collaborators made.

Remove collaborators: If you want to take someone off a project, click none next to the name of the person you want to remove.

Turn it into a webpage: Download your document in HTML, and you can share it as a webpage with a minimal amount of hassle. A great starting point for students wishing to create a website.

Change ownership: Switch ownership of Google docs as project leaders change.  You might need to transfer ownership of a document to a staff member or student.  It’s easy.

Share an entire folder: If you’ve got a collection of documents to work on together with students or staff, just open up a shared folder that everyone can access and contribute to.

Adding video: Remember Google owns YouTube, so they know video.  You can embed video in documents, slides, and more to dress up your presentation.

Track visits: Using Google Analytics, you can track how much traffic a published document is receiving.  This is really useful if you need feedback on whether your audience is actually getting involved.

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Revert back to old versions: If your group doesn’t like a certain set of changes made, it’s very simple just to revert back to automatically save previous versions in the revision history.

Get Google Drive – Google Drive is the central place to manage all of your online profile with Google and syncs with a number of devices.

Google Docs and Google Drive is an ever-evolving product that has provided heavy competition for products such as Microsoft Office.  I am sure there are many other useful tips you might be ware of and would love you to post them below.

How teachers can use twitter to find resources


Twitter is an excellent app for teachers to communicate about topics of interest and find relevant resources. 

It has a great search feature built into it, but if you use it en the same manner as Google you might be a little disappointed.  Today we are going to look at using Twitters search and advanced search function, and also workout the world of Hash tagging.

I am going to use twitter from the browser for this example but all the rules still apply for mobile devices too.

Twitter's search bar is located on the top left of your screen

Twitter's search bar is located on the top left of your screen

When using search in twitter it views the phrase Lesson Plans as two individual words.  You might still find what you are after, but if you use quotation marks around your search phrase such as "Lesson Plans" Twitter will search for that exact phrase.

When your results are returned you will see the following screen and we can then refine a little further. by refining the highlighted section.  You can also save this search by clicking the cog on the top right.

twtiiter search 3.JPG

Advanced search is one of Twitter's more useful tools and can also be found under the cog.

Advanced Search offers lot's of choices to refine your findings

Advanced Search offers lot's of choices to refine your findings

There are a number of fields within advanced search that will allow you refine exactly what it is you are after and filter out the noise.

As you can see my maths lesson plan seach is really what I am after.

As you can see my maths lesson plan seach is really what I am after.

So what is this Hashtag thing?

Hash tags are reference points that people put at the end of their tweets to link them to a common discussion.  For instance if you search the hash tag #teaching these are tweets that people want connected to discussions about teaching.  So people like yourself can continue the discussion and discover them at a later date.

Most Popular Educational Hash Tags

Have a go at searching through some of these more popular educational hash tags to find discussions relevant to your needs.

  • #EdTech
  • #Education
  • #Classroom
  • #STEM
  • #ContemporaryLearning
  • #BlendedLearning
  • #EdApp
  • #EngChat
  • #MathChat
  • #HistoryTeacher

I hope this helps and happy searching

Twitter For Dummies
By Laura Fitton, Michael Gruen, Leslie Poston

3 Exciting Edutech prospects from CES 2013


The world's biggest tech show has already been and gone whilst many teachers around the world have still been enjoying their holidays.  For the most part CES is about cutting edge technologies that we can expect to see in our living rooms, pockets and elsewhere in the next few years. 

Over the last few decades we have seen many great innovations at CES and inevitably trickle down to students, teachers and classrooms as useful educational tools even if that was not their original intended purpose.

Of the thousands of exhibitors in Las Vegas this year there were a handful of products that were aimed at spicing up the education scene instantly.  So I thought we would take a look at a few of these.

New Lego Mindstorms EV3 Technology

Mindstorms robotics has been around for a long time now.  It allows students to build robots from Lego and then create computer based commands for them to create tasks. 

Lego's latest incarnation has taken huge leaps in terms of it's user friendliness, capability of tasks and adoption of mobile devices and apps to control them as opposed to a standard PC.

At the core of the platform is the intelligent brick, which is powered by an ARM9 robotic processor and runs Linux. It will now allow for on-brick programming, Bluetooth, iOS connectivity, and WiFi (through USB ports). They’re open sourcing the on-board Linux package, so the unit should be more hackable than ever. Lego is also releasing a new IR seeker sensor, a beacon sensor, and an improved color sensor,

The platform is even backwards compatible with the older NXT components. If you’re eager to get your hands on a kit, you’ll have to be patient. They expect to be shipping by the end of 2013.

Check out the video below to see what it is capable of.

Interactive massive LCD Screens and pens


Nothing particular here, but nearly every TV manufacturer on the planet was showcasing a large screen over 80 inches that was multi touch or gesture responsive.

These new breed of TV"s offer crystal clear 4K resolution and depth of color that cannot be replicated with a clumsy data projector and interactive whiteboard. 

It is quite evident to me that the days of a dedicated interactive whiteboard are over as it will be standard for all screens to have touch control and some sort of built in communication to a computer or tablet.  Numerous examples of this were on display at CES 2013 with nearly all available now for under $10,000 USD. 

Expect this price to halve within two years.

McGraw Hill's Smartbook:  An adaptive e-book for students.


McGraw-Hill is taking on the one-size-fits-all approach to textbooks with its freshly unveiled SmartBook: an e-book that is claimed to adapt to student's learning patterns.

Aimed at college students, the SmartBook service peppers users with questions as they read and determines what topics it should present to reinforce learning. Come sometime in the next 4 months, the SmartBook will be available for more than 90 course areas starting at $20. It'll be joined by a handful of similar tools for driving home the curriculum, including something called LearnSmart Achieve, which is designed to serve up videos and other interactive embellishments in response to automatically detected areas of weakness. When you're ready to hit the books, just be careful they don't hit you back.

The SmartBook, available for PCs, Macs and iOS and Android mobile devices, will aim to change traditional textbooks by offering an "adaptive learning experience" that will act like a virtual tutor, studying the students' learning habits and helping focus attention on weaker areas.

There were a number of other great ideas at this years CES and if you saw anyhting worth sharing please drop us a comment below