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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

One Simple Way to Screencast with Office Mix

A 2-Minute Technology Tip on Screencasting

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

A screencast is when you record the screen. While there are many great options out there, Office Mix is so simple, I’m using it for most screencasting.



In this example, students have written a few lines of code in Scratch. Then, they open Office Mix. They use the screen recording tool to capture their program in action. Finally, they make the video and upload it to PowerSchool Learning.

This tutorial video shows everything except the uploading process.

How Did I Record This Quick Video?

Now, on a more technical note, recording a screencast of a screencast is a tad tricky. In order to show how to use Office Mix, I had to use my second favorite screencasting too, screencastomatic, to record the tutorial. This is because I have to use a different program than is being demonstrated.

Basically, I’m recording how to make a recording. So, if you need to make videos of Office Mix in action, you have to pick another program to do the screencast.

Popular Screencasting Tools and Tips for a variety of devices

  • How to Screencast in 3 Simple Steps (a tutorial I made on screencastomatic)
  • Screen-cast-o-matic – This tool runs in a web browser.
  • Explain Everything – This tool is perfect for iPads. Math teachers make quick “explainer” videos about how to work math problems. This tool is perfect when you want to hand write in your video. (iPad)
  • Screenflow – Tony Vincent shared this tool with me. I use it to capture my iPhone and iPad and more. (Mac)
  • Office Mix for Powerpoint  – Office Mix is a plugin that you add to PowerPoint 2013. This tool is the easiest video creation tool. I’m convinced any teacher can learn to make a quick video in minutes. (PC only)

The post One Simple Way to Screencast with Office Mix appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

“Not Normal” [Video]

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

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Video Post
We spend way too much time trying to be normal.

David Salyers, VP at Chic Fil A says,

“Normal can never be amazing.”

The truth is that normal is average. Normal is every day. It is truly not normal to be amazing.

So, from now on I want there to be nothing normal about my life or my classroom or my family or my friendships.

How about you? Who’s in for awesome?

Let’s stop being normal.

Hat tip to my former student, Carlton Brooks, for this jewel. 

The post “Not Normal” [Video] appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

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Friday, January 06, 2017

How Mainstreet Media Steps Up When Mainstream Media Lets Us Down

What we can learn from the media's silence about the South Georgia Storm Disaster 2017

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

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Is it that we don’t have a dead baby in a ditch like we had in the Camilla tornadoes in 2000 to get people upset? Is that why Albany Georgia’s tragedy is ignored? Or is it just that the news media is so busy covering reality DC that they don’t have time to report on a storm that left 8,000 homes without power and my Facebook sources tell me thousands of homes damaged. With 9 tornadoes – that’s right NINE TORNADOES and 3 thunderstorm wind events reported by the National Weather service, I’m at a loss trying to understand why this isn’t national news. Without power for days, we have cold weather coming, and many impoverished people are going to suffer greatly. This is the fourth poorest city in America! But if you turn on your TV, I doubt many of you will hear about it. And this complete lack of reporting is a problem. In this blog post I’m going to share why this is a problem and what we can do to help the survivors in this growing disaster.

I’ve embedded a film below, but it is from Facebook and some of you may not be able to see it.

When I got up Tuesday morning, I turned on the news, and heard about “some storms.” Some traffic lights were out. I did not grasp the magnitude of what happened. People at school were talking about the tragedy, and I thought,

Surely, if it were that bad, the news would have reported it, and the national news would have picked it up.

Nope. Mainstream media is too busy covering reality DC these days to talk about what truly matters.

As we saw during the election, the media seemed to be too busy manipulating us to inform us about things that matter to us average everyday folks. They’d rather get us upset about something over which we have no control than tell us about something where we can actually help. And they’ve failed yet again.

But you know who hasn’t failed? Mainstreet media. That’s you and that’s me. And we CAN make mainstream media notice if we all bring awareness to this. In fact, I’m hearing that MOST people are hearing the depth of tragedy through Facebook and NOT the media. And the media wants to know why they’re irrelevant.

I’ve asked for photographs and stories and Mainstreet media has filled my inbox with the pictures I’m sharing as part of this post. Feel free to add yours. Also note, while I’m using the hashtag #prayforalbany there are many towns impacted. I’ve heard from Newton, Meigs, Leary, and Baconton about extensive damage. This is a storm disaster of massive proportions.

Why Media Coverage Matters

I learned the depth of the tragedy from my church Facebook page when I got home from school at 4pm Tuesday. That was when we started collecting water to respond to the desperate and growing need.

If we don’t know, we don’t go. It is that simple.

You see, I have personal experience with storms before. In 2000, Kip and I were head of the Mitchell County Volunteer Command Center. On February 14, 2000, three tornadoes ripped through my tiny hometown damaging over 200 homes. We also had a terrible loss of life and 28 people died. It was something none of us would ever want to relive. There are no fond memories. We only feel the pain. But, just like in Albany, the entire community pulled together to respond to that storm.

The second day in Camilla, a big truck from Alabama full of bulldozers and heavy equipment pulled up and said,

“Where do you need us. We’re here to help, but we’re not here to charge.”

Because of extensive national news coverage, there were people everywhere coming out to help. Random strangers just showed up, helped, and left. We didn’t even know all their names. They knew that there was a need. That is what average everyday Americans do — we show up to help our neighbors.

That is if we know they need help. I’ve never seen anyone show up for a disaster they didn’t know about first.

What I Saw When We Delivered Water in Albany

Well, yesterday I wanted my students and I to be those random strangers who helped. We gave out flats of water in public housing projects near Hugh Mills Stadium in Albany.  To my surprise, I saw a tragedy that far exceeded the damage I saw in Camilla in 2000.

And I didn’t see one truck from the media. So, here’s our truck. My Mainstreet media friends and I are telling you what really is happening.

There are lots of trees down. But bigger than this, many people are without power. Many very impoverished homes have had refrigerators out since Monday and won’t have power for perhaps weeks.

Just because you don’t have a tree in your yard doesn’t mean the storm hasn’t upended your life.

Why Media Silence Hurts Good People When Tragedies Strike

Here’s the problem when the media ignores a tragedy:

  • If people don’t know, people don’t go.
  • If people don’t know, the money doesn’t show.
  • It people don’t know, it takes longer to get better.

In my experience, when dealing with a disaster – nothing makes it better. Your only hope is to help people get better, faster. That way, you don’t have people feeling hopeless, getting depressed, and acting out in their pain.

Simply put, you want to help as many people as possible get back their life as soon as possible.

How the News Media Is Letting Us Down

The city of Albany is mobilizing and helping itself. But, even here I heard a local news reporter joking that she hoped for snow on Saturday. I yelled at the TV,

You have people who have been without power since Monday, who are living in freezing cold apartments with children, and you’re wishing for snow?

The complete and utter inability of the media to share what’s important in this world anymore befuddles me.

There used to be a time when news reporters reported on what was important. Additionally, they felt they had a responsibility to speak the truth. Now, I think they’re more interested in reality DC than they are in speaking the truth about what’s happening out in America.

Well, average America needs a responsible media, and guess what. You and I now have a job we were never intended to play.

Now last night I tweeted all of the mainstream media and of course didn’t hear a tweet back. I mean for all they know I’m just a random person with 134,000 Twitter followers.

My life was not made better last night when they went in and re-shared the live stream of the abuse of a special needs boy by four people. I can do nothing about what happened but be shocked and upset. Instead, why didn’t they share about the damage in Albany, Georgia and how they need help? The cold is coming and people are still without power.

On Facebook, Steve Shiver shares how his sister has power back and has invited friends and their kids to stay in their home. In the absence of shelters (the first two opened Thursday night), lots of people are displaced and staying with friends and family.

Obviously, I can’t do anything about mainstream media, but I can do something about main street media. I can because I’m part of it.

Who am I? I’m a small town schoolteacher who some people read. And the people who read my blog aren’t just slacktivists; I attract ACTIVISTS. I attract people who DO SOMETHING to make the world a better place. We don’t whine about it; we do something about it.

So, let’s get busy.

Calling Out Main Street Media

So, dear reader, I now dub you, “mainstreet media.” You have a job to do.

1 – Tell People About the Tragedy And Ask for Their Support

Tell people what is happening in Albany, Georgia. 

But I will ask this if you share this blog post, please share one of the links to below first. It is more important to share about how to help than this post. 

  • Samaritan’s Purse Disaster Response Volunteer Page asks for people aged 14 and up to volunteer and help. Get up a group of people and come to help. In Camilla, we had people working for months – so even if it is later in January — COME. I promise they’ll need you. MOBILIZE!
  • Share the live streams from Sherwood Baptist Church  – they are a source of information I trust and will tell you what you can do. As of this post, on January 6 and 7 they need bottled water at the old Coke plant at 925 Pine Avenue, Albany. They are giving it out to those in need who have NO WATER. (Please check the stream for current needs.)
  • Use the hashtag #prayforalbany and hope that we can make it trend to get mainstream media to DO THEIR JOB!

2 – Donate money to help

Not everyone can come. Support your favorite disaster relief organization, or I just spoke to my pastor, Michael Catt, and if you donate through my church and designate for disaster relief benevolence that 100% of your money will go to help.

People who care, share. We share the truth. We share things that matter. People matter.

Now, get out there and do something.

Is this the Only Tragedy We’re Not Hearing About?

And when you know the tragedy in your local area that is not reported, it is your responsibility to report on it and to tell people. You now have a new job in addition to all the other jobs you have.

You must make sure that what you share is true, accurate, but also that it is stuff that that truly matters. Because it seems the people who have that job right now aren’t.


Let me also be super clear. The people in South Georgia are working hard and coming together. But many people even here in South Georgia are still uninformed as to just what has happened. We are literally finding out more and more via Facebook daily and shocked to realize that this story isn’t being told except to each other on Facebook. I just see a stark contrast in how the media covered the three 2000 tornadoes in Camilla and the nine South Georgia had on Monday night. I find no valid explanation. 

The post How Mainstreet Media Steps Up When Mainstream Media Lets Us Down appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

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via Vicki Davis at coolcatteacher.com. Please also check out my show for busy teachers, Every Classroom Matters and my Free teaching tutorials on YouTube.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Living Life as a Teacher Is Noble Enough

Appreciating teachers and the role we play in the world

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Wow, you know as a teacher you just can’t turn it off. I was just in Walgreens picking up pictures, and as I was walking in, a little one-year-old decided to walk out through the open door. I scooted out and followed him and took his tiny hand as his alarmed grandmother was grateful I brought him back. She said,

Living a Life as a Teacher Is Noble Enough

“He just runs away all the time. That’s all he does.”

I totally understand that. I had a “snatch and grab” toddler too. That’s what we called my son John when he was little. We used to joke that on vacation our most commonly used sentence on the trip was,

“Where’s John?”

But, as I was thinking about it, I just realize that you can’t turn it off. As a teacher, there’s just something in you when you really inhale this profession and take it for all that is. It kinda makes you a little different than other people.

My Family Was Not Amused

I remember when my kids were younger and we were at an amusement park. We are waiting in line for the bumper cars, and these two little boys started breaking in line. I was not happy about it. So they had cut in front of about 40 people just by walking up and saying,

“Hi, my brother and I need to get to the front.”

So, when they got to me, I turned to them, and I said,

“Get yourself to the back of that line. Why you think you can break? We’re all waiting.”

The little boys looked at me with big eyes, and they turned around and went right back to the end of the line.

Someone looked up at me and said, with a knowing look,

“You’re a teacher, aren’t you?”

Well, dear friend, yes, I am. I am a teacher.

When My Family Thought I Was Going to Be Shot Dead in Popeyes

However, it can get you in trouble. I told this story when I gave my 3italk several years ago with the BAMMY Awards, but it bears repeating the story on this blog.

We were at Popeye’s chicken when my kids were little older — one of them was in high school and one middle school and one elementary school. As we were waiting, I was turned around talking to my family. But I usually order first. (Because the mom has to be free to the wipe off the table or do all things that moms do.)

Well, my family knew exactly what was going to happen and was mortified. As I talked, I had my back to the student in front of me. (OK, as I wrote, I even called this young man a “student.” He was just a random teenager at Popeye’s. Again, I can’t turn it off.)

So, back to my story. I was at Popeye’s, and it was my turn to order chicken. Now my family saw this happening in slow motion. And they literally couldn’t stop it. It’s like when you hear them slow down the sound in a movie and they go


but there is nothing you can do, is just too late.

Well, what they saw was that the young man’s pants were not just saggy, but they were down around his knees. And he had on what some people call “tidy whitey’s,” but they were gray, and they were dirty.

And I totally forgot where I was. I just couldn’t help it. There was nothing my family could do to stop it.

So, I turn around I went into teacher mode without thinking about it and said,

“Young man, pull up your pants!”

My oldest son told me that he thought,

“This is how I’m going to lose my mom. My mom is going to get shot or stabbed or have something really bad happened to us because she doesn’t even know this teenager and she’s just told him to pull his pants up. She is a teacher and just can’t stop doing it.”

But, somehow this student, (there I go again), the teenager I did not know turns around. He looks at me with fear in his eyes. I must have used my teacher’s voice and my teacher’s eyebrows because he grabbed his pants, he pulled them up around his waist, and he said fearfully,

“I’m so sorry. I’m sorry. I won’t let it happen again.”

My family was shocked. Later, after I realized just what I had done and we could all laugh about it, I told them to never underestimate the power of eyebrows. 😉

You Can’t Leave it Behind

And thus is my argument, we may try to leave it behind us, but we can’t drop it totally. And admittedly, I don’t go around everywhere telling kids not to break in line or to pull up their pants. I am not the manner police by any means – these are just a few examples – like the one at Walgreens – where I inadvertently went into teacher mode. However, it is a reflex.

And I’ll tell you something else…

I’m not sure why teachers have to die for people to realize that teachers are noble.

It makes me angry because the only time people talk about how loving and nurturing and excellent teachers are is when one shelters students and keeps them from getting shot and takes a bullet for her students or when they use their bodies to protect children from a tornado.

Teachers, like many other professions that also deserve our respect, should be admired because of these reflexes. Now, not everybody in teaching has this reflex because not everyone who is a teacher is called to be a teacher.

But if teaching is truly your calling, that nurturing, loving, encouraging reflex is there. It’s the same reflex that talks to a random teenager about where they are going to go to college or helps them on SAT study tips. It’s the same thing that wants to tell adults how to use their computers better. And it’s just who we are.

On a flight last year, an autistic boy was struggling, and the pilot couldn’t land the plane. So, he gets on the intercom and says,

“Is there a teacher on the flight?”

The pilot instinctively knew that a teacher was equipped to help. That if there was a teacher, his or her teaching reflexes would kick in and the child and all of the plane and passengers would be OK.

But just as teaching is a reflex, loving kids is a reflex. And most of all, protecting children is a reflex.

I wasn’t going to let that toddler run out the door of Walgreens into oncoming traffic any more than any of you would. Some would say it wasn’t my business, but I would reply,

“Teaching is my business. It is who I am.”

You can take the teacher out of the classroom, but you can’t take the classroom out of the teacher.

So, thank a teacher today.

Teachers shouldn’t have to die to prove their dedication to children, just living life as a teacher is noble enough.

The post Living Life as a Teacher Is Noble Enough appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

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via Vicki Davis at coolcatteacher.com. Please also check out my show for busy teachers, Every Classroom Matters and my Free teaching tutorials on YouTube.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Today is the Present

Living life to the fullest every day.

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

I live across the street from death. Truthfully, I wouldn’t have chosen to live across from the funeral home, but it was my grandparents’ house. Contrary to what you might think, a constant reminder of death can change your life in positive ways if you let it.
When we first moved in, some things surprised me about the pattern of funerals. For example, it seems that people die when the weather turns. Also, it seems there are times when people don’t like to die — when holidays happen. Frequently, they’ll die in droves after the holidays are over, though. Furthermore, the full moon also seems to have more people die, too.
But whenever they die and whatever the reason, the last time I checked, the death rate hovers around 100%. At some point, it will be my cold body over there. People will look at me and say, 
“Oh, she looks so natural.”
If God lets me play a joke, I’d sit up and say,
“No, I don’t look natural, I’m dead.” 😉
Sometimes the funerals across the street are so big that people park in my yard. One of the only advantages I have of living here is that I don’t have to worry about parking. I’m just a step away.
And that, my friends, is something I’ll never forget. I’m one step away from death. I may move homes one day, but I’ll never forget what I’ve learned living here.
Because death is often on my mind, it is now the most natural thing in the world for me to live my life fully

People Who Die Before They Are Dead.

I’ll tell you what is unnatural: people who die before they are dead. That is what isn’t natural.
People who won’t do anything new. Individuals who stay stuck because they are afraid. People who complain about what ails them and although they know the solution, they don’t do anything about it.  Too many people choose certain misery over an uncertain, but possibly better future. Most people would rather stay at a pity party than work hard and go to a victory party someday.

Smell the Life

But back to living life. Oddly enough, sometimes realizing that death is close by helps you appreciate life more.
I heard about a man with a terminal illness. When he was diagnosed, he started doing everything he’d been meaning to do. He was spontaneous. He traveled. He did crazy and fun things.
But then, he went for another opinion. His disease was curable! When he got the news, he wept. All things considered, he didn’t want to go back to living life like he did before he thought he was dying.
Guess what? We’re all dying. 
Sometimes life is like that beach smell. You know how you go to the beach and you roll down your window and first smell THAT smell. The salty breeze. Mmmm.
Well, when we’re young, we see the wonder of life. We smell its uniqueness and joy. That is one reason kids are often so happy. They’re just happy to be here and live life. They smell how wonderful it is. It is still so new.
But have you ever noticed how after you’re at the beach for a while, you stop smelling it. We just get used to it.
And that is what happens to life: we get used to it. Sometimes we have to leave the beach to come back and smell the beach. And sometimes we have to consider what losing life would mean so we can enjoy life a little more.
 If we admit the truth, we all live just across the street from death. Too many people, like the man with the terminal illness, wait to enjoy the lake until the dam is crumbling.
Today is our present.

Write Your Eulogy

Albert Nobel created the Nobel Prize after a French newspaper printed a lengthy obituary mistakenly thinking Albert had died when it was his brother. Not wanting to be remembered for the destructive power of dynamite, which he invented, Albert set about making a new future for us all with his now world-renowned prize. All because he thought about his death.
Occasionally, I’ve seen motivational speakers encourage the audience to write their own eulogy. They’ll ask something like,
What is it that you want people to say about you at your funeral?
After all, when you know what you want to be said at your death, you know what you want to do in life
Death is worth considering because life is worth living.

Be Present in Today.

In the Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis penned a series of fictional letters from a demon, Uncle Screwtape, to his nephew, Wormwood, a demon in training. Uncle Screwtape gives Wormwood ways to keep humans from living good lives. Along these lines, one way Wormwood says to prevent people from living good lives by tricking them to live in the past or in the future.
However, there’s a problem with the past. We tend to exaggerate it. Roses smelled sweeter. Problems were harder. We were more beautiful, smarter, and fun than we really were. The past wasn’t all we think it was, so we should learn from it and let it go.
But we do the same thing in the future. We tend to overestimate how much we can do in a day, but underestimate how much we can get done in a year. We’ll be happy when we retire or when we get that car or when we go somewhere. When we fall for this lie, we’re so eager for some great “out there” that we never enjoy “right here.”
Today is our present. It is what we have to enjoy. 

What Would You Do Differently?

People of action make today their present.
Viktor Frankl, Nazi concentration camp survivor and psychologist, worked with suicide wards in Germany after World War 2. He had the notable distinction of not losing any one of the tens of thousands to suicide under his care. In his “logotherapy” –  he had people ask themselves compelling questions.
In the morning, before the day started, he had people ask themselves,
“If I had today to do over again, what would I do differently?”
Notice that he didn’t ask this question at the end of the day. Instead, he had his patients envision that if they lived today as they had before, what would they regret at the end of it? So, then, they changed the plan for their day to eliminate regrets before they happened.
I set my goals in 2017 by envisioning my year and then pretending I’m me on the last day of the year asking myself,
“If I could do 2017 differently, how would I do it differently?”

Today Is Our Present. Live Like It.

You and I both live across the street from death. But don’t whine or complain or go around with long faces — QUITE THE OPPOSITE! Laugh a little longer. Hug your kids or family or pets a bit longer. Fix a new meal. Be kind to the children in your classroom. Make unforgettable memories. Be resilient. Be vivacious. Soak in love and give lots of it.
You’ve got a legacy to live.
Today is our present.

The post Today is the Present appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

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via Vicki Davis at coolcatteacher.com. Please also check out my show for busy teachers, Every Classroom Matters and my Free teaching tutorials on YouTube.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

How to Keep Kids Safe

(and prevent problems online)

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Welcome to episode 296 of the Every Classroom Matters podcast. In this episode, Shannon Mclintock-Miller and I discuss current best practices about digital citizenship and online safety for kids.

If you’ve ever taught kids who have their own smartphones, you know how quickly social media problems can escalate at school. Understandably, schools that don’t open lines of honest communication with students and parents are the most at risk from turmoil from the online behavior of students. In today’s podcast, Shannon and I talk about what schools can do to prevent problems and make them less severe when they happen.

Listen to the Audio

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • The essential skill every child needs so they can be safe.
  • Why every school should include digital citizenship in their curriculum.
  • How to start conversations about digital citizenship with colleagues who are resistant to including it in the curriculum.
  • The specific dangers of oversharing and how Shannon kept it from derailing her school’s 1:1 initiative.

Download the Listening Guide

Today’s show has the Episode 296 Listening Guide to help you take notes and to implement what you learn in your classroom. I’ve also included some of my favorite free digital citizenship education options.

Episode 296 Listening Guide

Check Out Today’s Sponsor

Bloomz is your one-stop solution for parent-teacher communications. More than just connecting with their cell phones, you can send long or short messages. You can share pictures and links. You can even coordinate volunteer schedules, donations, and parent-teacher conferences. I’m using Bloomz in my classroom.

Learn more about Bloomz

About Us

Today’s Guest: Shannon Mclintock-Miller

Shannon Mclintock-Miller @shannonmmiller is a mom of three wonderful children, a teacher-librarian and a technology integration specialist. She is an educational consultant for Mackin Educational Resources and Cantata Learning, and Executive Director of Library & Educational Services for Biblionasium. She is also the Skype Education Ambassador. In 2014, Shannon was named a Library Journal Mover & Shaker.

Host: Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher is a full-time classroom teacher in Camilla, Georgia. Winner of the ISTE Online Learning Award 2006  and Best Talk Show Host in Education 2014 and many Best Teacher Blog awards, Vicki seeks to shine a spotlight on what works in education wherever it happens in the world. Read more about her here.

Subscribe to the Podcast

If you enjoy this podcast, please subscribe:

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Tell Your Friends

If you enjoyed the show, please rate this show on iTunes and leave a review. Thank you for helping other teachers find the show.

The post How to Keep Kids Safe appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

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via Vicki Davis at coolcatteacher.com. Please also check out my show for busy teachers, Every Classroom Matters and my Free teaching tutorials on YouTube.
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