About John Guthrie

Teacher and edtech enthusiast in the Detroit area.

3 Ways Teachers Can Recharge Over the Holidays

Just making it to the holidays is an incredible feat. A lot of teachers hit the holidays and crash without even considering ways of recharging their batteries, a necessity to avoid teacher burnout. It is important to plan on spending some time to actively refocus your mind, rest your body, and get emotionally, physically, and mentally ready for the next semester. Here are three fantastic ways teachers can recharge over the holidays and go back to class at their best.

Schedule Some Totally Selfish “Me” Time

The Holidays are busy. Between family, friends, and community responsibilities, a lot of teachers don’t find any time for themselves. However, a little me time will go a long way toward helping you find the strength to go back to work at the end of the break. Make it a selfish activity away from responsibility. If you have kids, get a sitter. Find something wonderful you’ve wanted to do. Then, schedule it in and make it a top priority.

Have a Sick Day

Have one day during your break where you allow yourself to be lazy. Order in, watch TV, wear comfortable clothes, play video games, and avoid work and chores like the plague. Think of it as a sick day without being sick. The idea is to rest your body and your mind to avoid getting sick and to help catch up on a little rest.


Either go to lunch with a good friend or sit alone with a journal and vent out all your frustrations from teaching. Say it all. Let yourself voice your concerns, and hash the whole career until you’ve said what needs to be said. Then, talk about all of those great reasons why you will stay teaching. This exercise allows you to feel validated in your frustrations while reminding you of the reasons you love teaching.

Teaching is a hard career. You need time to recharge so you have the fortitude to keep doing this valuable work. Your students depend on you to be at the top of your game after the holidays. Take some time to be kind to yourself. Take some time to muster up the strength and courage you will need for the rest of the school year. You are a hero in your students’ eyes, but heroes must take the time to save themselves.

This post was originally published on John Guthrie’s blog.


EdTech Trends Changing the Classroom in 2017

As we all know technology is ever-so changing. 2016 was the year that really focused on increasing educational trends for next year. In my last blog post, I talked about the next level educational technology will take us to. With 2017 right around the corner, it’s important to keep an eye out on the implementation of these up and coming trends.

Personalized Learning

One of the biggest ways technology will continue to revolutionize the classrooms is to focus on a personalized form of student learning. A personalized learning program will allow each and every student to learn in the classroom at their own pace while striving to reach educational standards. Programs will focus on students learning in a way that they understand. When students aren’t able to keep up with their fears, the begin to establish lower self-esteem and engagement. Through a personalized program, students will be able to learn and use new strategies to reach goals. This will also allow them to learn time-management and interaction skills that they will be able to apply outside of the classroom.

Collaborative Learning

Back when we were young, group work was one person doing the work, while the other members just sat there. Times have changed, however, and collaboration is now being implemented in the learning process. Collaborative learning will allow students to interact through various forms of technology (i.e. social media, google drive, etc.). Students will each be able to contribute their thoughts and ideas for assignments due within the classroom. This will encourage social interaction while implementing problem solving and critical thinking skills. Students will also be more engaged within the classroom and look forward to coming to school. The idea of daily and long lectures will decrease, as students will practice learning methods through the guidance of their teachers and each other.

Flipped Classroom Concept

Another trend that will be implementing a collaborative and personalized learning concepts is the flipped classroom model. The model focuses on completing homework assignments, and interactive learning labs in school, rather than a daily lecture. For homework, the students would go home and listen to lectures and watch videos based on what they are learning. This allows for students to learn at their own level without becoming frustrated and stressed out. This concept works well with the advancement of technology as interactive learning because studies found that children spend a lot of their time after schools on a computer or tablet. The interaction will allow for virtual feedback and help in the learning process while receiving help from a teacher during the school day. They are able to put hands-on skills at schools where they can ask questions and gain critical thinking skills through the process.

This blog was originally posted on John Guthrie’s personal website.

EdTech: Professional Development

Integrating new technology into the classroom is no easy feat. Most teachers have to spend time on their own figuring out new technology and then how to use it in addition with their lessons. On top of all that, it’s not enough to just be using the technology. Tech needs to enhance the lesson and, hopefully, cultivate more engagement.

There is a real need for structured professional development. Teachers are asking for more interactive training to teach them how to use the tech so they feel confident using it to take their lessons to the next level.

Technology has always come with a varying learning curve. Younger teachers are at a slight advantage because most have grown up using tech, but older generations of teachers have a lot more to learn. Establishing varying levels of interactive training can help teachers of all levels learn the technology and use it effectively.

The problem is that many districts don’t currently have any type of infrastructure set in place. Training takes time, money, and time away from the classroom. It is no easy fix, but something needs to change.

Nonprofits and teacher founded companies have begun to emerge in order to tackle the growing problem within technology based education. These companies know what needs to be done from experience and take the time to come up with the structure, tools, and lessons to make it easier for any teacher to start learning.

Some districts are lucky enough to have been tech focused from early on and have created fantastic training programs. The process clearly has worked for some, but we need to get it working for all!

If you are a teacher who will benefit from professional development, speak up to administration. Let them know where you are struggling and how further instruction would help make the new technology even more effective than it has been.

Technology is the future of education and our world. Investing in education to better our teachers will in turn provide a better learning experience for all students. Their jobs will demand the use of technology, so why not make them tech experts as early as possible.

What’s Next for EdTech?

The future of technology is ever changing and new tech is coming out, what seems like, every day. With new advancements in technology, there are also new uses – especially in the classroom. This blog highlights a few exciting and new technologies that will be making their way into classroom in the near future.

Open Classrooms

Open classrooms in and of themselves are not technology, but rather the structure that assists tech implementation. In order to use technology, it often takes place in a collaborative setting. Opening up the floor plan by creating pods of desks, instead of rows, allows the teacher to facilitate the use of technology. The classroom becomes an efficient, collaborative environment where tech exploration thrives.

3D Printing

3D Printers are not a new technology, but the recently have become more affordable, smaller, and quicker. Due to these advancements, classrooms can start adopting the printers as educational tools. The possibilities are endless. Three dimensional models can be printed for further exploration, students can design their own blueprints to then be printed, and they can even learn how to troubleshoot and fix the tech.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality, like 3D printing, has been around for a little while, but we are going to see it popping up in classrooms more in the near future. Bringing augmented reality to the classroom is possible, in part, from app development. Augmented reality used to only have been possible through expensive, clunky workstations. Now, you can create augmented reality in computer programs and view it through the camera of your smartphone.

Competency Based Education

Competency Based Education (CBE) is being practiced in higher education, but may also be used in grades K-12 someday. CBE is the practice of matching the education with an individual’s skill level. If a student posses the knowledge and understand of a course, they should not be made to sit through a class that’s too easy. Using CBE, students would skip over that class and be places a higher level up or be given more challenging work. This is all made possible with the help of the next section.

Digital Data Platforms

Digital data platforms for teachers are becoming increasingly more sophisticated and simple to use. Schools are gathering student specific data from individual test scores, grades, and other metrics in order to monitor student progress. These platforms also hold curriculum materials and tools for teachers.

The world of EdTech is exciting and growing at a rapid rate. We are using technology to change our students lives for the better. Embrace new technology and you’ll be amazed at what it will do for your classroom!

A Place for Tech in the Classroom

Like all technology in the classroom, if not utilized correctly, it can become a distraction for students. This makes sense when you think about how our students regularly use technology anyway – as a distraction! We need to implement the tech we use in a valuable way and think strategically about how to do so.

In order to do this, all technology we use needs to be vetted. Using the Rigor/Relevance Framework, we can assess the tech we plan to use and how to best implement it. The Rigor Relevance Framework addresses both Knowledge Taxonomy and the Application Model. The Knowledge Taxonomy evaluates complex thinking and the Application Model is used to evaluate how the knowledge can be put to use.

How it all works

Using four areas below, you can assess all aspects of a lesson and its effective use of technology. When vetting your lessons, ask yourself if each of the following items can be checked off when using technology. If you are unable to do so, it is entirely possible the technology you have planned will not work as effectively as you would hope. If this is the case, do not fret! Simply, reevaluate the technology or software and how it can be used more effectively – or find a different tech to do the job.

The following four key areas of the Rigor/Relevance Framework are your guide through the vetting process. Closely look to see if each portion of the lesson can complete the following:

Assimilation – “Students extend and refine acquired knowledge to automatically and routinely analyze information, solve problems and create unique solutions.”

Adaptation – “Students think with complexity and apply knowledge and skills to unpredictable situations.”

Acquisition – “Student tasks require simple recall and a basic understanding of knowledge.”

Application – “Students use acquired knowledge to solve problems, design solutions, and complete work.”

The most important reason for using this process when planning lessons is to make sure we are not just throwing tech into lessons because we have to or have it available. The technology should complement the lesson just as much as the lessons should complement the technology. Students will take more away with them if they are learning to take real world tech and use it in ways that make things easier and more engaging.

The overarching goal of including tech within the classroom is establishing a real world application. By doing this, students will be more engaged because the thought, “when will I ever actually use this,” will never enter their mind.

Encouraging Female Coders

In education, we are constantly trying to build our students up and provide them with a promising tomorrow. In that vein, there are many large projects to undertake. Breaking down the wage gap and lifting young women up to pursue careers predominantly held by men falls into this category. Digging a little deeper we can see there is an issue with computer science and woman. The issue is that women are few and far between. In order to make a positive change, we need to start early with our female students. We need to encourage our female students to start coding!

Girls Who Code

This is not a revolutionary idea. Just head over to girlswhocode.com and you’ll see what I mean. Girls Who Code have cornered the problem and are looking to start a revolution. Their website states that, “tech jobs are among the fastest growing in the country, yet girls are being left behind.” They are starting to do something about it and we, as educators, have a commitment to providing our students with the resources and experiences they need. How can we do this?

Start Clubs

In order to make our female student coders feel safe, provide a space for them. Start a female only coders club to encourage students who may have been intimidated by a stereotypically male dominated club. This will open the door for many students and give them a comfortable place to explore the computer science world.

Gather Other Teachers

Bring other teachers together. Starting a school wide initiative is going to take some man power. Call on other teachers who think similarly and have the drive to make positive change happen. Gathering like minded educators will be a good way to brainstorm club/school activities and can help other teachers bring awareness of coding to students

Spot Dormant Interest

Use your classroom and the knowledge you have of your students to spot, then encourage, interest in computer science and programming. Try to include more computer science activities in your classroom and see which students respond proactively to it. Encourage those students to join clubs, provide them with material, and be the support they need in trying out a new interest! Without us pushing our students to succeed, how else will they be able to reach their full potential. Someday those students will thank you when they have great paying jobs that they love!



Describe what you have learned from the feedback, the fun part, and/or the questions/difficulties you might have encountered when debugging your own apps

One problem that I am starting to run into is performance. I have to make sure I run an app killer before starting the blocks editor.

What’s working:

  • User select screen shows a list of names that are entered.
  • Admin screen lets you add and remove names
  • Menu screen gives verbal choices
  • Character catching is working, and it tracks where the each user left off

What’s not working:

  • Character trace screen is not working. The code I originally tried, did not work as expected. This feature may be more involved than I can finish in a timely manner. My goal for this screen was to allow the user to trace a letter and give audio/haptic feedback when the user is on track.

What would I like to add:

  • Password enter field to access the admin screen
  • graphical data showing progress of each user
  • Capital letters and Numerals

My updated blocks and screen shots

There are a lot of screenshots so I could get all of my blocks. Click on the pictures to see them in a larger size.




Screenshot_2012-12-02-14-01-07UserSelect Screen10

UserSelect Screen1UserSelect Screen4

UserSelect Screen2UserSelect Screen5UserSelect Screen8UserSelect Screen3UserSelect Screen6UserSelect Screen7

Admin Screen

Screenshot_2012-12-02-14-01-30Admin Screen4

Admin Screen1

Admin Screen2

Admin Screen3

Menu Screen

Screenshot_2012-12-02-14-02-20Menu Screen3

Menu Screen1

Menu Screen2

Character Catch Screen

Character Catch Screen14Character Catch Screen10Character Catch Screen3

Character Catch Screen1Character Catch Screen2  Character Catch Screen4

Character Catch Screen6Character Catch Screen5  Character Catch Screen11

Character Catch Screen7Character Catch Screen8  Character Catch Screen13



What you have learned from peer feedback, working on your blocks, etc.;

So far, the most significant thing I learned is work in small pieces. It is better to have several procedures with small responsibilities than to have one big procedure that does a bunch of things. On the same lines of thinking, I find it better to have multiple screens than to have one screen and hide and show pieces as necessary.

The fun part

My favorite part is being able to see the changes real time. In the past it has been program for a day and then hope it works. Watching the changes happen as I program incorporates a lot of the debugging process.

Plus, who doesn’t enjoy having their android device say random phrases.

The questions/difficulties

A couple of the more frustrating parts are; not being able to copy blocks from one screen to another and having to make a list of components to use the generic “any” function. Overall, these are just annoyances and add to the programming time, but easy enough to work around and through.

My updated blocks and screen shots




Screenshot_2012-12-02-14-01-07UserSelect Screen10

UserSelect Screen1UserSelect Screen4

UserSelect Screen2UserSelect Screen5UserSelect Screen8UserSelect Screen3UserSelect Screen6UserSelect Screen7

Admin Screen

Screenshot_2012-12-02-14-01-30Admin Screen4

Admin Screen1

Admin Screen2

Admin Screen3

Menu Screen

Screenshot_2012-12-02-14-02-20Menu Screen3

Menu Screen1

Menu Screen2

Character Catch Screen

Catch Screen 4

Catch Screen 3

Catch Screen

Catch Screen 2

Week 12: Final Project (2)–Interface and Component Design

So far so good. The app is programming just as I expected.

I changed my intro screen from having a submit button to just timing out and automatically moving on to the next screen.

The buttons for/each loop was a little challenging at first figuring out how to get components into the loop. I made a variable with a list of all the components of the buttons.