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Welcome to the 2020NEXUS web site. 

Keyboarding           Tech Integration          Gaming (The Learning Kind)


Please visit My Classroom for information on the following topics: History, Writing, Reading and English.  I am teaching only I.T courses at the moment so those pages may not be updated.



That’s what I am feeling this Spring Break. I feel grateful for many changes that have happened over the last few Spring Breaks, including me finally getting an opportunity to teach overseas in an International Baccalaureate school, and  especially changes in my chosen field (and the passion that drives me): Educational Technology.

When reminiscing about my life before my present post, I couldn’t help but recall some of the frustrations I experienced in the past during twenty years of teaching.  It wasn’t because I worked in American public school system(s) exactly—it was more likely because I worked in specifically dysfunctional,  under-funded, and “morale” bankrupted systems.  I hit so many professional roadblocks.   The only colleagues I had to network with were online via Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc. and not in my city.  I grew so tired of being an early- and only-adopter that I even stepped away from many web 2.0 environments.

I felt I’d been trying since 1994 to be a 21st Century teacher in an environment that seemed to thwart that effort at least half the time—but usually more often.  I could be paid hundreds of dollars on the weekend or at night to train teachers around the world, but not allowed to grow professionally with my primary employer(s).  I could teach a summer camp and enjoy the respect of supervisors who saw my talent in just 6 short weeks.  More lately I even had one administrator who understood enough about technology integration and about my skills to promote and celebrate me as an ed tech teacher for a short while.  Unfortunately, that leader passed away in a tragic accident.  It was he who praised my professional gifts, extolled my personal virtues, and let me try a few educational maneuvers and projects to stretch myself and finally, it was he who encouraged me to follow the international teaching dream. I will never forget him or his family that remains because they might be the reason I didn’t quit education altogether.

Throughout the ’90s and ‘00’s and at the highest levels there was often talk about technology integration.  Occasionally there were some instances of progress.  There were fairs and there were festivals about technology integration.  Yet too many times the new or old technology initatives were forgotten—swept aside by budget crises, politics, layoffs, standardized testing pressures, and similar curses.  For many reasons (both personal and professional)  I had to stay in that environment much longer than I wanted to.  By the time I left I was one burnt-out educator who was ready to fly away.   I know there are thousands of teachers like that still laboring in that system; my prayers go out to you.  

But I said this was about gratitude, so that’s enough ranting about the past.

Thank God, through a lot of cumulative footwork and life changes, I landed 18 months ago in a school system that is BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) in Grades 6-12 and Grades Pre-K-5 have desktop labs, Smart boards, laptop carts, weekly I.T. classes, and by next year: a multitude of tablet carts. There is strong and secure WIFI available in every corner of every classroom.  Each secondary content teacher and a few specialists (including me) were issued a high-end laptops for our professional use and that practice continues.  Elementary teachers will soon be issued tablets to assist in their instruction.  This community embraces the International Educational Technology Standards in real life, not just in lip service.  I am also honored with the responsibility and privilege of my own teaching and learning  environment, a lab with 22 desktops, a Smartboard, several tablets, and whatever other devices my students might bring with them on a given day. Most days I am allowed to be a teacher-leader who is flourishing and growing.  This is a place where 95% of the time when I need support, access, technical help, professional development, or just plain permission, it is granted WITHOUT a second thought and WITH a smile.  I am fortunate to be part of such an exemplary learning institution.

Where to go from here?  My belief has been for decades that IT shouldn’t be a separate class, but instead that technology skills acquisition and use would be integrated into all teachers’ pedagogy in informed, well-planned, research-based ways AND in all the learning venues.  There are some roadblocks for all schools worldwide in making that happen.  I am happy to say that my present school system strives to get over, around, under, past, and behind those obstacles, even if one-by-one and even if slowly.  

For instance, recently our technology integration specialist moved to another hemisphere and that position now needs to be filled for the coming school year. During the search committee’s recruitment phase, I am grateful to be asked to fill in and do some of the Technology Coordinator functions, e.g., shepherding an iTunes University initiative, leading and participating in PD, and of course collaborating with technology committee members, classroom teachers, building leadership, support staff, and our abundantly skilled IT department.  

My highest goal is to be a Pre-K - 12 Technology Coordinator.  I have stated as much to the leaders here and left the future to resolve itself.  A secondary goal I have is that sometime soon my school will elect to finance at least one more technology integration coaching position.  This coach would exist to serve the rest of the staff or a portion of the staff as administration saw fit.   If that assistant coach or that Technology Coordinator were me (and I was no longer carrying a full-time load of 25 classes a week and 490 students) I could be a trainer, consultant, supporter, workhorse, demonstrator, trouble-shooter, assistant and modeler-of-best-practices all over this system.  

I don’t know exactly where or when I will realize these goals.  In the meantime I continue to self-assess, learn, push, grow, and explore.  Maybe I will even blog again. ;)   As a part of that plan I will be at the International Society for Technology in Education’s annual gathering in a mere 3 months.  Just another huge blessing.  Hope to see you there!


Introducing Office Mix for Flipping Your Class


Ten Great Resources for Coding & Writing Games

First let me give all the credit for posting these resources to the author, Alan O’Donohoe, a Guardian Professional, and re-posted on DateTuesday, September 18, 2012 at 8:28AM by Cool Stuff for Nerdy TeachersThanks to them both!  (Code Jockeys, I have sent a few of these to you before via our group emailing list.) 
Here is Mr. Donahoe’s bio:  


• Alan O’Donohoe is Principal Teacher of ICT at Our Lady’s High School, Preston. He has been teaching for just short of 20 years. In the Summer of 2011 he taught himself how to program with Python. He seeks to evangelise teachers to teach computing science through his blogs, tweets and audioboos. He blogs at teachcomputing and can be found on twitter at @teknoteacher.

“When the Guardian Teacher Network asked me to exclusively reveal a list of my top 10 resources I found it really hard to narrow my choice down to just 10.  But here it is – and if you think I have left any out then please do comment on the blog and add your suggestions or send me a message through Twitter @teknoteacher.”
And now for the really good stuff:

1. Scratch Community is a fantastic programming resource for learners of all ages. What better place to start than a site dedicated specifically to teachers who want to use Scratch to teach programming? Here you will find videos, lesson plans, worksheets, discussions and even real people to ask for help. Unfortunately the webinars (which are fantastic) are around 1.00 - 2.00 am UK time, but you can watch recordings afterwards.

2. Codecademy is the web resource that does exactly what it says on the tin. This is a good starting point to discover what computer programming (in JavaScript) can be like. Sometimes unforgiving if you get your syntax wrong (that’s spelling, punctuation and grammar in computer speak). You get feedback as you progress and learners can compare their score with each other.

3. Invent With Python is a real book that teaches you step by step how to program using the Python programming language. The book is available as a hard copy to purchase, a free download or just view it online for free. The author has a friendly style of writing and explains all the code used clearly. Don’t worry - no references to large snakes. 

4. Computing At School is a free-to-join association for anyone with an interest in computing in education. Sponsors include Microsoft and Google among others. Benefits of joining include free-to-attend annual conference, regional hub meetings, competitions, newsletters and teachshares. Meet up with lots of other like minded people to share and steal good practice. 

5. Twitter is another great place to hang out with like minded people who wish to promote computing science in education, try following some of these people and read what they are doing. You will find they rarely tweet about what they have had for breakfast, or what colour socks they are wearing, instead they have good quality education based tweets @largerama, @drtomcrick, @codeboom , @hubmum@batteredbluebox, @CompAtSch, @GuardianTeach oh and @teknoteacher (that’s me!).

6. Code Hero is a totally new way to learn how to code. It’s a first-person science shooter game where you use the code gun to manipulate code. You learn how to code in order to succeed in the game. 

7. Play My Code  is “an online platform for building, playing and distributing browser games. Powered by HTML5, you can build within the browser and embed your games anywhere.” Start by simply playing the games, then make small alterations to make the games easier or more difficult to play, share your altered games with friends. Before you know it you are a games developer. 

8. The 2008 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures were given by Professor Chris Bishop on the power of computing. The videos are now available to watch on the big screen in your classroom also available as a free DVD. Suitable viewing from around age eight upwards. 

9. The National Museum of Computing and MOSI  are two great museums to explore for teachers planning to teach the development of computers. Book yourself out of school to visit as part of your CPD or take your family. Create your own videos or record interviews while you are there. 

10. iTunes contains many podcasts and academic programs (iTunesU) that you can follow. On your ipod, you can catch up with the world of computing science, technology and more while travelling in the car, bus or tube. Try some of these GuardianTechWeeklyBBC, Introduction to C# Programming.


Standard 5 Digital Citizenship Survey

You will find the survey on the MY CLASSROOM + TECHNOLOGY page. 

I want to say thank you to the students of Yokohama International School and Technology Facilitator Kim Cofino for sharing the wonderful material from their Digital Citizenship Week.  Much of our lessons this week are modified and adapted from their site and Ms. Cofino’s blog.

(The Speed1 Form is below.)


Welcome Back!

It’s already August 20 and classes begin today!  I look forward to seeing my returning 7th and 8th Graders, plus meeting my new 6th Graders.  As you might expect, we will start by going over procedures, supplies, what to do in different drill scenarios, and getting a baseline typing speed (WPM).  Here’s how:

Go to Internet Explorer to warm up at http://www.typingtest. com/

8th Grade: Take 3 Minute Tests       7th Grade: Take 2 Minute Tests  

                    6th Grade:  1 Minute Tests

Practice at least once and take at least one real test for which you record your score and show it to me.

After you  have completed the typing test, if there is still time left, you  may explore this website.  Notice especially the links on the “My Classroom” page. You may try some of the links and games.

This image is free to use or share.


What Are You Studying This Summer?

 I am busy reading all of the District Eleven Battle of  The Books selections and many professional development books and blogs.  I continue to listen to podcasts about adolescents, education, and/or technology.  In a couple of days I will begin a 6-week online course about Instructional Design.  Finally, I am especially focused on two books our Language Arts department is going to study this year:

What did you learn so far this summer?

-Miss Shanks


Monday, Tuesday--May 7/8

This is my 3-year-old granddaughter Madison, working hard on her version of learning.

Mr. Nemenic, please remember to leave me a note of which class was the most well-behaved all around for you during my absence.  I would appreciate your rating on all of them, if you would kindly give them a 1-5 score with 5 being the best.  Thanks!

Students:  If you did not get your draft of (6th) Glogster Autobiography, (7th) Ancient History Timeline, and (8th) This I Believe Essay to me, you are late and should do that immediately during WARM-UP time.  Remember, if you are using GoogleDocs, just invite to your document.  If you are making a Glogster, don’t worry—I can see it with my log in.  If you made an essay draft in Word, you need to email it to or

7th Graders: Here’s a fascinating timeline of the human race, Humanline.


This week you will set aside your projects to do some other shorter assignments with Mr. Neminic.  Please remember that he is in charge and respect his wishes.

Last week I mentioned to you that research on learning shows we learn better by figuring out answers for ourselves. Here’s that article. I’m wondering what you think about that, so I am posting this adapted article, which you must read and consider:

Debate: Scaffolding vs. Struggling – Can Teachers Be Too Helpful?

Thanks to and quotes directly from The Edublogger’s Author: Ronnie Burt, who was recently debating best instructional strategies in the classroom when working with students.

Some teachers believe (and much research will show), that students will remember more and understand better when they struggle with concepts and new ideas. Learning experiences that provide students an opportunity to play with concepts and figure out on your own are best.

The other teachers (with good reasoning and research to back it up too), believe that students who struggle will shut down. They believe the better approach is to provide as much scaffolding as possible – activities that walk through information in a step-by-step manner.

No doubt that to some extent this will depend on the learner, content, environment, and more. But there is a general philosophy at play.

What Say You? What’s Your Best Way to Learn?

I think you—my students—will have great insight into helping with this debate.  Let’s turn this into a blogging discussion!

Here’s what I’d like you to do:

  1. Draft and finalize a comment to me and your schoolmates about this topic.  You should draft your comment and finalize it in M.S. WORD. Share your thoughts, opinions, experiences, reasons, details, examples, your own research – or whatever you’d like — that’s directly related to the topic and is school-appropriate.  You must write between 50 and 100 words in your comment, except ELL, IEP, 504 and ILP’s may write 30 or more words.  Specialized learning plans can also ask a teacher or paraprofessional to help them if they wish to say the comment while the adult types it.
  2. You must include at least 2 hyperlinks to information about this topic which helped you form your opinions on how you learn best.
  3. Copy and paste your comment below (onto this blog).   DUE MONDAY BY 9PM.
  4. Tuesday in class you will draft, edit, finalize, and post a second comment in response to another student’s comment.  You need to say something new to that student in direct response to what they said in their comment. This comment should be 25+ words. Do not merely repeat your first comment!
  5. I will read, grade, and summarize your posts here.

Keep in mind these commenting guidelines adapted from the Grammar Girl blog:

  • Determine Your Motivation (Why are you writing and what do you wish to say?)
  • Provide Context  (Who are you?  What brings you to the topic?)
  • Be Respectful, Be Safe, Be Kind, Be Responsible, Be Prepared
  • Make a Specific Point
  • Know What You’re Talking About (Do the research to find your 2 hyperlinks.)
  • Make One Point per Comment  (Don’t tell me more than one main idea per comment.)
  • Keep it Short (Yours needs to be between 50 and 100 words, except ILP, IEP, 504 and ELL’s who must write between 25 and 75 words).
  • Link Carefully (Make sure your hyperlinks are correct and functioning.)
  • Proofread Your Writing and Then Edit and Finalize It!

I expect you to write quality comments.  By “quality comments” I mean:

  • writing the comment like a letter (greeting, body, closing, signature)
  • using correct spelling, punctuation and spacing,
  • reading over the comment and editing before submitting,
  • complimenting the writer in a specific way, asking a question, and/or adding new information to the post,
  • writing a relevant comment that is related to the post,
  • not revealing personal information in your comment.

We don’t need or want any comments that are short and generic, as in: “I like your blog!!!” or “This comment is so not cool.”  


Need more guidance?  Here are some links that may help you. You may not use these hyperlinks in your own writing.

  1. The More You Struggle With New Information, The More Likely You Are To Learn It.
  2. Kids learn better if they figure it out themselves: study
  3. What is Scaffolding in Education?
  4. Six Scaffolding Strategies
  5. How to comment like a king (or queen!)
  6. Blogging? It’s Elementary, My Dear Watson!



Thursday, May 3, 2012

Greetings from the air as I fly to California!

Please remember and take care of the following today:

If you need any details that don’t appear in this blog post, look at Agendas 72-75.  Today is Day 76 but I did not make a PowerPoint for you.  If the Agendas and this post don’t help, feel free to email me at or text me at my Google Voice number: 719.357.5837.


1.  Everyone must take Typing Test 8 at or  Please turn in your score by texting it to me (with your  name), emailing it to me, or by recording your score on the clipboard next to your name on the seating chart.  Keep trying until you get a higher score than Speed 7.  If you are new to class, you don’t have a Speed7 to beat, so just get the best score you can.  

2. Your due date is at 4:00 PM today for the following:

6th Grade:  Finish Draft Autobiogrphy Glogster.  I can see your posters by logging in so you do not have to send me anything to show you have done the work.

7th Grade:  Finish gathering your 10 items for your Ancient History Timeline.  Have some variety—don’t use all text, all pictures, all maps, etc.  Every item needs a date. 

8th Grade:  Your draft THIS I BELIEVE essay should be completed in class today.  You must write 250-500 words.  Watch your conventions—if you make too many errors I will know you didn’t take the time and effort to proofread and edit—so I won’t be able to give you a grade.  Keep in mind that we will be turning your essay into an Animoto movie.

Use your time wisely!  If you finish early you may do any school-appopriate LEARNING activity, including homework and silent reading.  YOUR SUBSTITUTE DECIDES WHAT IS APPROPRIATE but you know the right thing to do after 76 days in my class.  ; )

Have a great weekend, students!


Miss Shanks


Typing Test 7

Your’e Finished! _______________________________________________________________________________


Keyboarding Test 6