All posts by Benjamin

5 Links Monday on Tuesday May 10th, 2016

So somehow it is May, and there are only 11 days with students left in the year! Here are my favorite links from this week:

1.) Collin Rickman and Mike O’Toole team up to bring low cost microscopes to his science classroom!Using the lens from a laser pointer and some plexiglass, Collin’s students build microscopes with the same magnification of $300 models for a mere $11! Video below!

2.) 5 Ways to Put Students in the Driver’s Seat
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This blog post is a great summer read as you think about ways you can structure your class next year to give students more agency!

3.) After hearing that he was going to be replaced on the $20 bill, I did a google search for “Andrew Jackson” and found this gem: Andrew Jackson had a pet parrot that had to be taken out of his funeral for cursing loudly. Great article confirming this story here!

4.) Nuzzel!

While I really love Twitter when I have time to stay up on it, I often get overwhelmed by all I “missed” when I go a few days without checking it. That is why I’ve been so impressed with a free new service (and iOS App) Nuzzel. Nuzzel was created to “solve the problems of social overload.” It aggregates links shared by your friends and serves as a “finely honed news filter.” Link it to your twitter and give it a shot!

5.) Blue Origin’s landing! This GoPro footage of a spacecraft descending through earth’s atmosphere and landing 300,000 feet below was awesome! Check out this video here to see how fast it was coming in from another point of view.

5 Links Monday on a Tuesday (March 29th, 2016)

Happy last Tuesday of March! Here are my favorite links from the week. Enjoy 🙂

1.) Take a virtual field trip and explore amazing and beautiful satellite imagery from across the globe! While you can use it to quench your curiosity about how big Peyton Manning’s house is, it also has lots of educational uses as it features a “this day in history” portion.

2.) I don’t know what I find most surprising about this story, that there is a lollipop that is actually good for your teeth, that these lollipops were the only candy featured in the annual White House egg roll, or that these lollipops were invented by a 10 year old?!? This story gives even further proof that you can never be too young to start design thinking!

3.) We all know how important it is for our students to develop and master 21st century skills. Many oversimplify their definition of the 21st Century skills to the 4 C’s. (Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, Critical Thinking) Articles like this show how important grit is to future success! It also makes me feel awesome to know that even JK Rowling has faced rejection!

4.) Last week, Microsoft launched it’s artificially intelligent twitter robot named “Tay”. It was their goal to create a “chat bot designed to engage and entertain through casual and playful conversation.” Other than every Sci-Fi movie in the last 50 years, who could have possibly imagined that AI wouldn’t have stuck to the plan? Unfortunately, within 24 hours this chat bot was taken down, read why hereMicrosoft’s explanation here.

5.) As I finish this last link in the hospital after the birth of my son, I’m excited to think about how his life will be different than mine. One difference that is almost certain,  he will have access to 3d printing both at home and in school. Check out this awesome 3d printer that only costs $99 and uses the light from your smartphone.

5 Links Monday on Tuesday March 1st!

1.) I remember learning about leap year in elementary school and immediately feeling sorry for anyone born on that day. As a child, it would be a major bummer to only have your birthday once every 4 years. As I get older, I envy the idea of only having 1 birthday every 4 years. The chances of having a leapday birthday are one in 1,461….better than the powerball I guess. I enjoyed this article packed full of tons of leap year facts.

2.) This picture of our Super Bowl winning QuarterBack will always be one of my favorites. A nagging ankle injury may keep others from studying film, but not the Sheriff!

Manning Studying Film

Peyton is the ultimate student of the game, devoting dozens of hours each week to learning from his mistakes by watching film. Teachers and students in our district study film just like Peyton! This video showcases a few champions in our district doing just that!

3.) Now that all teachers in our district have or are getting laptops- it’s time to share my favorite easy trick: AdBlock Plus! There is nothing worse than having the perfect YouTube video to show to your class, and being delayed by an ad before the video starts. Or how annoying is it when you have a great website you want to show students, but there is an inappropriate banner on the top of the page? Well those problems and more vanish when you install AdBlock Plus as an extension for the Chrome or Safari Browser.

4.)  This website is an awesome way to teach about other areas of the world! If it were my home– allows you to see how your life would be different if a country other than the United States were your home. For example, did you know that you would be 19 times more likely to die in infancy if Afghanistan were your home?

5.) This last link is for my fellow political junkies! Today is of course a Super Tuesday…it can be difficult to keep up with the race towards the general election. This site shows a lot of awesome ways to follow the election on your iPad/iPhone or new Mac. By subscribing to the primary calendars, I get notifications before each state’s primary or caucus. Vote early, vote often.

5 Links Monday on a Snow-day! (Tuesday February 2nd, 2016)

Happy February, and Happy Snow-Day! I hope you are using this time to relax, catch up on work, and feel great about the rest of the upcoming semester. While I was very tempted to post 5 Denver Bronco related links, I reined  myself in and choose links that benefit teachers. Enjoy:

1.) In honor of the snow-day, check out this awesome parody of Adele’s newest hit.

2.) I’m a big fan of shortcuts that save me time, trendy people call these shortcuts “life hacks.” Here are some awesome ways to use binder clips as life hacks! I especially love the solution binder clips provide for organizing cords at my desk, and keeping my headphones detangled.

3.) These next two links are mind boggling to me! They are infographics that depict how quickly data is generated, and how quickly wealth is generated by popular internet services. Every minute worldwide, there are 3 million new posts on Facebook, 800 new accounts created on Twitter, 2,000 new blogs posted on WordPress (this counts as one of them),and Apple makes over $400,000 in revenue! We are preparing our students for a new digital world.

4.) This site provides contextual information about what is trending on twitter. It keeps track of the most recent one million tweets, and shows where they are coming from. Each second, fifty new tweets are added, and fifty old tweets are removed. It was pretty neat last night to watch the “hot spot” around Iowa for the caucus, and in San Francisco, for the NFL’s media night. I could see this being a great resource for teaching about current events and showing global perspectives on issues. Under the keyword search, you can search for hashtags or keywords and see where in the world people are tweeting about them. I bet you can already guess most of the tweets in Northern Colorado today are about….#snowdayScreen Shot 2016-02-02 at 9.33.53 AM

5.) Are you looking for a student centered project you can implement for the rest of the year? I encourage you to look into 20 Time. Below is a video highlighting it’s use at Coal Ridge Middle School.


Stay Warm Friends!

5 Links Monday (On Tuesday, January 12, 2015…whoops 2016)

Welcome back! I hope your winter break left you feeling recharged and ready to tackle 2016! Let’s dig in!

1.)  For my first link of the new year, I want to showcase some awesome teaching and learning in our own district. This video highlights a challenge based learning activity to teach the 1920s at Frederick High School.

2.)  With the start of a new year I’m sure many of us have made resolutions to healthier eating. The Obama administration’s released new dietary guidelines, it is rather shocking to see the actual amount of sugar we should eat in a day versus the amount we actually eat!

3.)  Straatsen: While we may think that we’ve had a cold and icy winter thus far, it is nothing compared to last week in Holland! Sheets of ice covered roads, sidewalks, and highways. Rather than stay inside and binge watch Making a Murderer, citizens made the most of the icy situation. Like their nordic neighbor, they braved the outdoors and told old man winter, “the cold never bothered me anyway”

4.) There are countless ways technology enhances our lives each day. I’ve recently been interested in finding stories about how technology has helped people with disabilities. I’ve found countless articles about 3D printing prosthetic and apps that allow people to communicate but this may be my new favorite video on the topic.  Elevatours-

5.) As teachers we constantly balance big picture thinking with nitty gritty details. Personally I have always been better at the big picture thinking than the detailed thinking. This video fascinated me because it shows details at a level that I struggle to even wrap my head around. This video showcases the nitty gritty details of delivering millions of pieces of mail a day!

5 Links Monday (on Tuesday 11/10/15)

I cannot believe that it is already November, this year really has flown! A wise man once told me that “life is like a roll of toilet paper, the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes.” 🙂 Here are my 5 best links from the week, let’s dig in:

1.) Our team has been diving deep into the discussion of Student Data Privacy. Since none of our team members have practiced law, (although it is rumored that Kyle Addington practices Maritime Law) understanding the terms and conditions from some of these 3rd parties is challenging to say the least! I love this comic book which turns the iTunes Store terms and conditions into a comic book! If only sites and apps would make their terms of service this engaging. Stay tuned for an easily digestible video on what teachers should be thinking about when it comes to data privacy!

2.) I missed the boat on my Halloween link but I’ll throw it in here anyways! I always loved Halloween because it was a time to imagine and make-believe 🙂  Listening to this video (headphones are a must) fills me with the same childlike wonder and excitement! It is pretty incredible to hear how life like this sound really is! If you like to get nerdy with it, read all about the technique of binaural sound!

3.) This article is incredible for so many reasons. One of the coolest things is that it completely re-writes itself for every county in the USA! This article uses your IP Address to detect which county you are currently reading it in, but after you read about your county, you can manually enter any other one you’d like to read about. After playing around and reading about other counties were you challenged at all? I know I was!

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4.) I can say with certainty that these $50,000 headphones will not come standard as part of the LTP. I always found it ridiculous when students would come into my class with $400 “Beats”, I cannot even fathom spending $50,000. This video reveal is pretty cool though. My goal is to listen to my link in #2 on these headphones.


5.) I love crowdfunding/kickstarting websites. I love them because of the critical thinking and problem solving exhibited by many of the products trying to get funded. This backpack is no exception 🙂 We all agree riding bikes to work is a great thing for our health and environment. We also agree that teaching a first hour class with a sweaty back that comes with riding your bike and backpack is the worst! What an awesome solution this backpack provides: a backpack that straps onto the front of your bike with a see through portion for directions on your phone! I gotta think the designers of this backpack engaged in some design thinking. Are you interested in Design Thinking and making some money for your school? Check out SVVSD Design Challenge Here!


5 Links Monday (on Tuesday 10/6/15)

As a famed poet of our time once said, “greetings loved ones, let’s take a journey.” Here are my favorite 5 links from the web this week. Let’s dig in!

1.) You can wake up now, September has come to an end! Hopefully you caught my Green Day reference, if not, you need to catch up here! Although the aforementioned song reached the peak of it’s popularity in September of 2005, using our first link of the day, Google Trends you can see that each subsequent September, this song makes a very substantial resurgence in the number of times people search for the hit using Google. Google Trends is an amazing resource that allows you to dive into the nitty gritty surrounding Google searches. Using Trends, you can explore search data at a country, state, city, or county view! What an amazing tool for developing wonder and creativity in our student’s! There are multiple applications to using this in the classroom, but one of them is asking students to make predictions based on trend data…why, for example, is the number one state for googling “Wake me Up When September Ends”, California, or why does the term “Shot-Put” spike in searches every 4 years? Here is a great site that discusses more specific ways to use it in the classroom!
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2.) This link combines things that don’t often go together: roller coasters, and reading! This intriguing article discusses an intricate 4 mile roller coaster for books at a Library in Budapest, Hungary. If you think constructing a 4 mile roller coaster would be difficult even with an owners manual and “how to videos”, imagine how difficult it would be using smuggled unlabeled parts because your country was under embargo! It takes about 10-15 minutes from when a reader requests a book for it to take the “ride” and arrive in the desired reading room. While this roller coaster is an impressive engineering feat, I still prefer 24/7, instant access to our St. Vrain Digital Library!

book coaster

3.) Teaching is often a thankless job. Maybe this story will encourage you! We don’t always understand the power of our reach, nor do we understand how and when our hard work will pay off. “When Dr. Michael Shannon saved the life of a premature baby 30 years ago, he would never have thought decades later, the favour would be returned.” Keep delivering a world class education for our students, it will pay off!
4.) “More power from the sun hits the Earth in a single hour than humanity uses in an entire year.” This fascinating article discusses the common misconception that in order to rely on solar energy we would need to cover most of the globe in solar panels.

5.) You’ve probably heard of a “first world problem” but have you heard of a first world invention? This device is an “ambient physical display that visualizes various weather conditions like rain, clouds, and lightning. By receiving weather forecasts from the internet, it can reproduce tomorrow’s sky in your living room.” If we were to place this device somewhere on the SAMR spectrum, it would definitely just be an overly expensive substitute. No need to fret if you can’t pony up the $200, you can always just open the blinds 🙂

5 Links Monday (on Tuesday 9/22/2015)

My name is Ben Kalb and I am the newest Instructional Technology Coordinator for SVVSD. Often upon meeting new people in the district I hear, “You must be the new Bud– Bud Hunt 2.0.” With all that @budtheteacher did for this district I would say I’m currently more of a Bud 0.2. I’m working diligently to fill those shoes! With my inaugural 5 links I hope to inspire some wonder and big thinking. Let’s dig in!

  1. Solar System to Scale: A couple of meta-learners and explorers seek to give us an accurate and awe-inspiring view of how small we really are! They aren’t afraid to think big…like using a seven mile dried up lake bed as their canvas big! My favorite line of the seven minute video is “We are on a marble floating in the middle of nothing, when you come face to face with that it is staggering.” I am curious how the parents and teachers of these film-makers helped inspire this kind of wonder and excitement. If watching this video doesn’t have your head spinning enough, try to answer this question: How can we spur this kind of big-picture thinking in our students?!? Enjoy 🙂



  2. The ultimate in makerspace! Architect Charles Young challenged himself to design and construct a different paper building each day for a year. He completed his challenge and made an entire city, complete with moving parts.  The city is aptly named Paperholm and  is incredible!  Coming from someone who can hardly draw stick figures on a flat surface, I’m challenged to contemplate ways we can provide opportunities like this in our classrooms.
  3. I often feel I missed out on rocking and rolling to the vintage sound produced by an audio cassette tape. As a millennial, the first album I owned was on compact disc, not the aforementioned audio cassette. The retro/nostalgia movement has helped cassettes make a slight comeback. This article and video helps us venture inside the last factory that still makes audio cassette tapes! The owner characterizes his operating model as “…stubbornness and stupidity. We were too stubborn to quit.” Several great questions to ponder arise in this piece: In what practices are we being “too stubborn to quit”? and What new technologies are simply fads– a bandwagon that we need not jump aboard? Article and video here!

  4. What do you get when you combine 43 change-throwing scientists and some water-filled glass beakers? The answer is, of course, a prodigious selection from a Mozart minuet. Mad props to any teacher willing to replicate this experiment with their students. What a great learning experience.



  5. Thirty years ago today, Colorado was hit with a huge blizzard! I know because my parents often include this in the telling of my birth 🙂 As only Eddard Stark could say, “Winter is coming.” Get out and enjoy your last few weeks of cycling. We all know nothing ruins a good bike ride like a flat tire. I’m super excited for these air-less  and puncture proof tires to become more mainstream. Keep encouraging your students to be makers and to create solutions to problems they encounter and to make life better for the next generations!