Coming Attractions…Wash Your Cell Phone w/Soap & Water

It’s Monday and we are looking forward to the new workweek ahead. Thus, it’s a auspicious time to launch a new feature I’m calling “Coming Attractions…” The tech we have today is pretty amazing. How much of it could we imagine even three or five years ago?

To get ready for what’s coming next in the world of technology, look for this feature here at Ed Tech Emergent.

It’s the germy season and wisdom tells us to frequently wash our hands and frequently touched items. Electronics are always on those lists of The 8 Germiest Items in Your Home. Sure, you can run an alcohol wipe over your microscopically filthy remotes, keyboards, and cell phones. But wouldn’t it be nice to get those items really clean using old fashioned soap and water?

Well now you can – with your cell phone at least.

Don’t believe it? Check out this promotional video (I hope you can understand Japanese):

Stuff You Should Know: How to Quickly Defeat a Cold

Ahhh…Choo!!! Ugh…Am I getting a cold? We teachers know exactly what this sinking feeling and inevitable question is like.

Well, fear no more – this article is a must read as it gives you an hour-by-hour game plan to increase your chance of beating the cold early and decreasing the misery it would otherwise bring.

So, read on and be well!

Eye-Popping Video on How a Virus Spreads and How to Stay Well

You likely learned (or perhaps taught) in Biology class how a virus multiplies inside of a cell. Chances are though that you’ve never seen this process like it’s illustrated in a new video from NPR:


Convinced that you should indeed get a flu shot this season? What else can you do to stay healthy this winter? From CNN comes The Ultimate Cold and Flu Survival Guide.

And you can also enact this “immodest proposal” from Ozy: “Don’t Shake On It” because:

Beyond the power politics, handshakes are also natural vehicles for spreading infectious diseases. They’re ticking germ bombs — with the CDC estimating that nearly 80 percent of infections are transmitted by hands, which teem with millions of bacteria and viruses. This led Dr. Tom McClellan of West Virginia University to laud a safer salutation — the fist bump — while other health officials promoted the elbow bump during Haiti’s cholera outbreak, Mexico’s swine flu scare and the recent Ebola epidemic.

Washing Dishes Is A Really Great Stress Reliever

OK, it’s Sunday night (ugh!) And of course I worked much this weekend, but didn’t get as much grading, planning, etc done as I wanted to do.

As I was getting ready to head downstairs to do my Sunday night task – folding laundry – and my every night task – washing dishes – I came across an encouraging article about the value of what I’m about to do.

Time Magazine offers a brief, yet insightful article about a study which showed that washing dishes can be a great stress reliever – if you do it mindfully. I like the reading excerpt which the researchers had one group of subjects read:

While washing the dishes one should only be washing the dishes. This means that while washing the dishes one should be completely aware of the fact that one is washing the dishes. At first glance, that might seem a little silly. Why put so much stress on a simple thing? But that’s precisely the point. The fact that I am standing there and washing is a wondrous reality. I’m being completely myself, following my breath, conscious of my presence, and conscious of my thoughts and actions. There’s no way I can be tossed around mindlessly like a bottle slapped here and there on the waves.

After the group which read this excerpt, washed dishes and then responded with higher levels of inspiration and lower levels of nervousness, it lead the study authors to conclude:

“It appears that an everyday activity approached with intentionality and awareness may enhance the state of mindfulness,”

I’ve written on this blog previously about the many benefits of mindful meditation. And I have many more articles to share and reflections to offer on what I’ve discovered regarding the benefits of it. But, I can’t share these now — I have dishes to do and laundry to fold!

Delicious, Easy, Healthy “Overnight Oatmeal”

My evening is drawing to a close which means it’s time to prepare my overnight oatmeal for tomorrow’s breakfast.

“WT Heck!?!” you might be thinking. And why is he including this on a blog for teachers about technology?

I was surprised when I discovered this amazing way to combine quite healthy ingredients to make a breakfast that I can eat quickly or take with me to eat on the go. Adding this to my daily routine has been one of the best things I’ve done in 2015.

And I think other teachers would like an easy to make, easy to take breakfast treat.

After learning about how ridiculously healthy eating oatmeal is, I started to eat it hot each morning.  Then I’d eat my bowl or cup of Greek yogurt.  Now, these ingredients and much more good stuff is together in the same bowl or jar.

The formal recipes are found here and also here.  These versions recommend using empty peanut butter or Mason jars.  I started using these, but now use glass Anchor/Pyrex containers with tightly sealing lids.

Here’s the version I’ll be creating in a few minutes:

2/3 cup dry, “Old Fashioned” oatmeal

2/3 cup 1% milk

1 cup of Greek yogurt – plain, unsweetened or flavored, sweetened

1/3 cup of unsweetened applesauce

Small handful of dried fruit (I like raisins or dried cranberries) or sliced fresh fruit in season (any berries are particularly great)

1 tbs of Bob’s Red Mill, Whole Ground Flaxseed Meal – Since flax seed is called “one of the most powerful plant foods on the planet” the addition of this relatively tasteless ingredient really takes this breakfast off the health charts.

Mix all of these ingredients in a jar or bowl.  Cover and place in the fridge overnight.  By morning you’ll have a delicious*, extraordinarily healthy breakfast to eat now or later.

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* One caveat: The texture seems odd at first (in part b/c of the expectation that oatmeal to be eaten hot) and neither my wife nor I liked it on the first taste.  But after one or two more tries the taste and texture grew on us.

Now, we both eat it every day for breakfast.  The five minutes or so it takes to prepare sets me up for one of the best parts of my morning – digging into a yummy breakfast which is better for me than most anything else I could have!

Bon Appetite!  I need to make my breakfast for tomorrow morning!

Good News! Teachers Live Longer!

Well, sort of.  More and more scientific evidence is mounting that a sedentary life-style, especially in which one sits at a desk all (or most of) the day, can actually subtract years off of your life expectancy! 

This article does a nice job of summing up this research while offering recommendations.

The main take-aways from the article:

  • New research continues to mount that the more hours you spend sitting in a day, the shorter your lifespan may be – even if you engage in regular exercise
  • Women who sit for 10 or more hours a day have a significantly greater risk of developing heart disease than those who sit for five hours or less
  • The key to counteract the ill effects of sitting is to repeatedly interrupt your sitting; try setting a timer and standing up at least once every 20 minutes or at least 30-35 times (spread out) in a day
  • Correct posture and standing up 30 times per day may compensate for the damage that is done by long periods of sitting.

I don’t know about you, but I actually sit for less than two hours during my work day teaching.  And I imagine nearly 100% of teachers sit far less than the 10 hours a day that puts one into the “significantly greater risk” category.

And standing every 20 minutes?  How about if I try sitting for even a few minutes each hour?

What is actual teacher mortality rate compared to other professions? According to the study cited at this blog, teaching has the third lowest rate after religious clergy and accountants and is quite a bit lower than architects and engineers. So, I guess standing and being a “sage on the stage” is much better for you long term than hunching over a desk.

Mindful Meditation is a 21st Century Skill

It’s another Snow Day here in Central Ohio.  The measly 3 to 5 inches we received overnight pales in comparison to the “historic” storm they are about to get in NYC, Boston & Philly.  One reason I like living where I do is that we get Snow Days without paralyzing snow.  And we’ve already had three of them in January!

It’s been a while since Tera, Rachel or I have been able to post.  It goes without saying that a teacher’s life is a full life! My to-do list, which always includes posting here, always seems to get longer and not shorter.  I’ve been collecting links and ideas though.  Hopefully I can post a few today when I’m not catching up on evaluating student work.

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21st Century Skills have been getting much attention the past view years.  Myriad well-funded websites exist and there are no shortage of posters and graphics such as the one above or this one:

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This poster is one of many resources found here.  I like the dozen and a half skills listed, but I think a critical one is omitted here and in most lists of 21st Century Skills – Attention or Mindfulness.

A fact of modern life is the temptation to becoming distracted from the task at hand – be it participating in class, doing homework, or even driving.  The dangers of “distracted driving” were driven home to our school recently when speakers from Impact Teen Driving shared their tragic story of a loved one’s death from an auto accident by a distracted driver.

Focusing attention is a skill that can be taught and developed. An M.D. from the esteemed Mayo Clinic featured in this Atlantic article writes: “We have multiple set exercises throughout the day where you basically bring intentionality to your attention…they involve no newfangled brain-training software, or really anything at all new to neuroscience or philosophy.”  His website, offers useful techniques illustrated by engaging videos to teach the five core principles of “gratitude, compassion, acceptance, meaning, and forgiveness.” He’s created this fact-filled, cute, whiteboard video entitled “A Very Happy Brain” that could be enjoyed even by younger students.

Cultivating gratitude, being in the present moment, and mindful meditation have been shown to have many psychological, academic, and inter-personal benefits.  There are no shortage of succinct articles which both describe the benefits of mindfulness and offer ways to practice meditation.

So how does this relate to educational technology?  There are a growing number of apps which can facilitate meditative practice.  Aside from using technology to teach meditation, I think we also need to educate our students in ways to be attentive to assigned learning tasks rather than succumbing to the massive temptation to distraction living within their iPads or Chromebooks.

This attentiveness is a vital 21st Century Skill on par with any of the other essential skills listed on the posters above.  So, how do we teach it?

In the next post, I’ll share how I am doing it in my classroom. How have you done it in yours?

Will Wearable Technology Make Us Sick?

For as much as we talk about wearable technology—Is it useful? Is it stylish? Is it affordable?—there’s a question we rarely raise: Is it safe?

I’m obviously a fan of technology in general and specially technology to enhance education.  But I’ve been around long enough to realize that with every good thing there are potentially bad things that go hand in hand with the benefits.

This mainstream article about the potential harms of wearable technology is a good reminder for me that I need to ask uncomfortable questions about the unintended consequences of the technology that I’m using personally and professionally.  And it’s a reminder that none of us yet know the long term consequences of the changes brought to us via the myriad ways that new technology has impacted our lives.