Is it me, or the project?

The nice thing about coming to a new school is that it gives me a chance to see if the success I was having was based on kids just signing up because they knew me and trusted that it would be great, or if I can really get kids to do amazing things with technology because of the subject itself, independent of who the teacher is. To tell you the truth, I was a little apprehensive of the answer.


The great success of the new MET Studios at my new school has affirmed it that "If you build it they will come." If you truly offer projects that are interesting enough coupled with an authentic audience, kids will sign up.



Making a Broadcast Studio the Vehicle for Learning


For sometime I have been considering the power of a student-run broadcast studio. In my past school the student ran a very successful podcasting studio that had nearly 10,000 subscribers on iTunes, and now in my new school I have built a full-featured broadcasting studio. In my previous studio we could only publish audio webcasts and my new one allows for video as well. 

By adding video, things got a lot more complicated but also better. Video allows so much more expression. We can now feature so much more student-made content. Yesterday we finished episode 9, but already the kids are getting the hang of it. You can check out our YouTube Channel here:

Now about it being the vehicle for learning. You see, by having this broadcasting studio, the students here at The Metropolitan School of Panama have access to a much broader audience than ever before. In fact, that is the whole point of it. By publishing on the web, students want to do their best work. It allows them to really raise the bar of what is possible with student produced work. Teachers will soon start to use the studio as motivate for the best possible work, because this generation loves to have their work online.

Already, with just nine episodes under our belt, I am so pleased with the work of these young students. But just you wait to see what is coming next...

Top 5 Mobile Learning Resources

#edtech #mlearning #atomiclearning

Their content library is comprised of more than 65,000 videos. So if you are wondering where to start, I can help! They  have started reviewing their internal data and found some of their most frequently viewed training. This post focuses on their most commonly viewed digital content on mobile learning. What is it?

  1. Planning for Success: Professional development to start planning a mobile initiative. Key topics include: setting a vision, planning the infrastructure, and gaining buy-in.
  2. iOS 7.1 - What's New? Training: Get to know the ins and outs of your iPad in this how-to series!
  3. Adapting a Lesson: How can some of your favorite lessons go mobile? This course will help make sure your tried-and-true classroom experience can be enhanced when students have access to mobile devices.
  4. Evernote Training: Evernote is a favored tool by many educators. This how-to training will get you up to speed on how you can use the note-taking and memory-enhancing app to share your notes across devices or with others.
  5. Edmodo Training: Do you like the idea of bringing social media into your classroom, but don't know where to start? This content is focused on utilizing Edmodo for collaboration on assignments, sharing resources, posting polls and quizzes, and more!

When it comes to mobile initiatives, it's hard to know where to start. This list can help you find the Atomic Learning training that is useful, when you need it. Want to learn more about Atomic Learning resources? Request more information!

iBand Dressed Rehearsal a Success

#edtech #atomiclearningYesterday the iBand members had to come dressed in their 80's attire ready to rock their songs. The songs sounded great and they are ready to perform and next week's Kids Can Make a Difference Festival where they are raising money for the Libraries for All organization. This festival is the culminating event for their tech badges they earned using lessons from Atomic Learning.







Mr. Flick's Tech Badges: Tech Basics 02

For my second badge I have my students work on their tech basics. These are things like how to open documents, the difference between save and save as, and how to save files to our school server. Most of my badges build upon the badge before. So as you can see, now that the students know how to use their Netbooks, now they need to know how to do work on them. I store all of the lessons (videos) on our Atomic Learning account.


Mr. Flick's Tech Badges: Netbook Basics 01

20140107-075941.jpg #edtech

I start with Netbook Basics as my first tech badge because my students need a solid understanding of how their main piece of technology works before they can do anything else. For this badge the students review all the parts of the netbook so they know what everything does, they also must know the proper name for everything. There are no "do-hickeys" or "thing-a-bobs," they must use the correct name. It is so much easier when a student comes and asks me for a VGA cable instead of; "You know that thing that connects to that other thing." Students also learn the Netbook Rules, so that we can minimize damage and mis-use. Although students would love to jump into filmmaking, first they need to know how to run what they already have. -Brad Flickinger, tech teacher, Bethke Elementary

How young is too young for Atomic Learning?

#edtech #atomiclearning

This week I had some visitors at my school who were checking out the badges program that we use in 3rd, 4th and 5th grades. They were amazed at how effective the program was, but were shocked that the students could use Atomic Learning. They thought that Atomic Learning tutorials were just for teachers.


I showed them one of the badges for Graphic Design where a student has to design an event poster for our school. They use Microsoft Publisher and in the instructions it simple says that if there is anything they do not remember or understand about using Publisher, they are to use Atomic Learning.

This is a huge time saver for me as a teacher, and if a 3rd grader can use Atomic Learning effectively, then none of us have an excuse.



New Content Alert: Getting Started with iMovie (2013) and Mac OS X Mavericks Training

#atomiclearning #edtech Atomic Learning has just released two new trainings...

Getting Started with iMovie (2013) Training

In the fight between old and new, there is only one app this online training course will use: iMovie®. With the release of Mac® OS X Mavericks®, there’s a new iMovie, and it’s pretty cool. Along with some interface changes, we’ll check out how to create movies and trailers, how to use the new iMovie Theater, and the different ways to share your iMovie creations. After we cover the new stuff, look for future releases, where you’ll learn more about how to get up and running with iMovie, from importing and sorting media, to adding effects, titles, and transitions.

Getting Started with Mac OS X Mavericks Training

Mac® OS X 10.9 Mavericks® is the totally free update to Apple’s® Mac OS X operating system. In this online training series, we’ll hit on some of the most popular new features first, checking out how to use tabs in the Finder and consolidate Finder windows by merging them into tabs, as well as reading books in iBooks® for Mac, and searching for and sharing Maps locations and directions. After those bases are covered, watch for deeper dives into how to get started using Mac OS X, including using the Finder and Dock, tagging files, using Notification Center, integrating Facebook® and Twitter™ into the OS, and using Mail, Calendar, Contacts, and Messages. Although many changes are subtle, the powerful Mavericks moves you one step closer to total integration with all your devices through social networking and iCloud®. Check out this series to learn how to get started.

Not an Atomic Learning subscriber? Learn more.

Coming Soon: Common Core & Special Needs Training

Is your district struggling to understand the basics of the Common Core State Standards and how to prepare students with special education needs to meet or exceed those standards? Atomic Learning's new series by Amanda Peters focuses on new challenges and opportunities presented by the Common Core for learners with disabilities. Check out the video intro below.

This course can be useful for all educators who need to understand the Common Core, not just special education teachers. It provides an overview of standards that call for technology, something every educator working on helping students reach the Common Core Standards needs to know. This training also provides helpful suggestions on assistive technology that may be used to help students with disabilities. Key ideas addressed in this video:

  • Standards related to technology within the Common Core
  • Preparing for assessment with the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers
  • English language arts assistive tech solutions
  • Math practices and assistive tech solutions

This course will be available for customers subscribing to Atomic TechCore and Atomic Assist. Don't have access? Request more information about how your school can prepare students with special education needs to master the Common Core State Standards.


New Training Series Helps Educators Flip Their Classrooms

My friends over at Atomic learning recently added a training series that helps educators flip their classrooms. Flipped teaching has become a popular practice in which students learn new content online by watching videos, usually at home, and the classroom time then offers teachers more personalized guidance and interaction with students, instead of lecturing.

This online training series provides educators an overview of what flipped learning is and provides tips and tricks for creating videos for use when flipping a classroom. The training can be found at

New Training Series Helps Educators Flip Their Classrooms

My friends over at Atomic learning recently added a training series that helps educators flip their classrooms. Flipped teaching has become a popular practice in which students learn new content online by watching videos, usually at home, and the classroom time then offers teachers more personalized guidance and interaction with students, instead of lecturing.

This online training series provides educators an overview of what flipped learning is and provides tips and tricks for creating videos for use when flipping a classroom. The training can be found at

Mini Maker Faire this weekend in Northern Colorado


My family and I are so excited for the Mini Maker Faire that is this weekend in Loveland, Colorado, which is about 20 minutes from our house. We have never had a Maker Faire so close to home.

You can get more information here:

Each year we make the annual pilgrimage to San Francisco for the "grand daddy" of Maker Faires. So to have one so close is a big deal. Hope to see you there.

We Stopped to Look at the Stars

Note: I have been asked to include the story of how the Los Quinchos orphanages got started in Nicaragua so here is a story I edited and adapted for my elementary students. Each year my students help to raise over $2000 for this program. - Brad WE STOPPED TO LOOK AT THE STARS

The story of how the Los Quinchos orphanages got started in Nicaragua as told in her own words by Zelinda Roccia, the founder. Translated into English from Italian. Edited and adapted for Elementary Students by Brad Flickinger. Original interview by Francesca Caminoli for “Una città”

I have seen los niños de la calle in Mexico and Guatemala, countries where the problem of street children had already existed for years. However, in Nicaragua, this had hardly existed at all. The Sandinista Government had taken charge of education, health care and of giving a minimum food rations, “la canasta basica”. Only a few children could be seen in the streets, almost all of which were war orphans.

But then governments changed and things started to get worse, especially for the children. The new government had ordered the campesinos to give the old land-owners back their land that had been confiscated and redistributed back to poor farmers. So now the large landowners who had fled to Miami were coming back and taking their land back. When the police couldn’t manage to send the farmers away, the landowners would arrive with their armed gangs and force them to leave. So the homeless farmers fled to Managua and formed the asentamientos , where people live in miserable shacks, built with a few pieces of sheet metal put together with black plastic sheets.

Families would go the city and find nothing. There were very few men (all compas or contras). They had died, or ran away, or disappeared into the frontier, the majority of women were left on their own. They would go around the streets all day long searching for a job, leaving the children alone in these shacks. But more and more children were starting to leave these shacks to live on the streets in hopes of finding more to eat.

So what struck me weren’t all the children I saw on the living on the streets, but three particular children. They were very small and were sleeping in a truck tire. They were really no different from the other children; I didn’t speak with them or interact with them in any way, so I don’t know why those three children unchained a huge feeling of rage. Such an enormous rage, that in that precise moment I decided to quit everything and to do something to help these kinds of children. And the same anger still lives in me today, because since then the situation has gotten dreadfully worse in Nicaragua, and every day the most unheard of things continue to happen.

I returned to my life and job in Italy and for three years I struggled to obtain an early retirement. In the end I made it happen and I returned to Nicaragua in 1991. All alone and with no support and not knowing how to get organized, I started working in the most miserable barrios, such as the Dimitrof, where not even the police dare enter, and in the asentamientos. People were coming from all over Nicaragua with nowhere else to go. I was seeing the most brutal sides of post-Sandinista government.

“What am I going to do?” I kept asking myself.

I wrote many letters, a few friends started supporting me, but of course they couldn’t do much. The large government organizations didn’t know me and they were too busy repairing roads, running hospitals and trying to keep the water and sewer lines working. When I spoke to them of children they looked at me as though I were a bit crazy.

In those early days I lived on a pension. “I could open a comedor” I thought, “what these children need most is food”. They were under-fed, some of them at five or six years old were barely able to walk because of malnourishment. What could I do? They needed help immediately.

Amid these confused feelings I searched for a small house and found it in Ciudad Jardin, behind the Mercato Oriental. It was there that for the first time I became acquainted with the horrible things that street children would do to escape the feeling of hunger and fear. It was two children who made me discover it, Harling and Hormiga. They were six or seven years old, very small and thin.

This is what happened…

By my patio, on the side of the road, was a guayaba tree, a plant which gives fruits that are delicious when they are ripe. I saw them pick up the fallen fruits that had already spoiled. I moved close to them and asked why they were eating them. They told me they were hungry. So, I invited them inside and gave them some bread and butter. They told me they were le pega and lived in the Mercato Oriental, in the Chiesa del Calvario.

This is how the story of Los Quinchos began, with two kids that never were part of the project.

You see, the next day I went looking for them, but I couldn’t find them anywhere. So I started to work with any of the street children. At first it was terrible, they refused any contact with adults; they had ran away from violence in their families and found just as much violence from adults on the streets. They accepted me little by little, seeing how I would stay with them and most of all because of certain specific acts, such as having stood up for them when the police had tried to chase them away from an area with sticks. I never did find the original two boys that I met by my patio. I began speaking with the saleswomen in the market to get them to give them some food, but it began to be clear to me at this point, to really do something I needed a house.

So I met father Jesùs Arguete, the basque priest of the church of santo Domingo, who lent me a house belonging to the church. It was a wreck, with no running water or electricity, and I could only use it during the daytime to feed the children. Hundreds of them arrived but I could only feed thirty or forty of them; when that many had arrived, I had to close the door.

We would stay on the second floor of the house, which had huge windows with no glass. One day a pandilla arrived and started throwing stones at us. All the little ones were frightened and threw themselves into the middle of the room. Peeking from the window I guessed who the leader was: Piri, with his sidekick, Pichete, who wore a blond mohawk just like a Berlin punk. I went downstairs, walked outside and went up to Piri.

“You’re the leader”, I said to him. He swelled with pride.

“Why are you throwing stones at us?” I asked.

“Because we’re hungry!” was his reply.

“But I’ve got nothing left, come and see.”

Piri snapped his fingers and all the others stopped throwing stones; he and Pichete came upstairs and I showed them the empty rice pot.

“There’s food here.” he said pointing to the empty pot.

“What?” That’s how I learned the famous sentence “Aquì està la raspa”. “La raspa” is the crust on the bottom of the pot, a kind of mush. Piri scraped off the entire bottom.

“I’m taking it away”

“Are you going to share it with Pichete?”

“No, I’m going to share it with all the others. I’ll come back every day to take la raspa”

“All right, shake my hand, a jefe’s word says you won’t attack us anymore”

He would come back every day, silently, and go away just like a great chief.

We had shelter here, we could go on somehow, but it was becoming more and more urgent to find our own house.

At a certain point, the community of father Arguete’s church asked him to send us away, they said the kids had stolen the gas caps off the cars while they were at mass. There was a meeting and we were told that we had to go.

I was running out of option when I met an almost eighty-year-old Italian man who owned a pizzeria, he lend us a piece of land where we built a small house. Really tiny, but at least we could stay there to sleep too. I began to realize that the only way to get the children away from la pega and from the streets was to get them away from the city of Managua, to let them live freely, in a real home, without neighbors complaining every day.

During the Christmas holidays I went back to Italy and I went to Padre Balducci’s Community in Fiesole. We had already had contact by letters. Together with a group that had formed in the meantime in Cagliari, they were the first to give me some substantial money. When I got back, I bought half the Finca San Marcos. On February the 7th, 1993, on a radiant night, with all the kids crammed on a little jeep, we arrived at La Finca. I remember that before arriving, we stopped to look at the stars. We had five blankets the Red Cross had given us, our pots and that’s it.

And we’re still here.




Tech Badges Program Year 2 Successful Start

#edtech #atomiclearning  


Well the kids came back to school and the new and revised tech badges program is up and running smoothly. The kids are excited at the possibilities of earning the tech badges that interest them, after they have earned the required ones, of course.

A few changes for this year:

- I now only hand out badges once a month. So on the last week of each month they get the badges they have earned that past month. Handing them out as they earned them was too disruptive to the class.

- Also on the last week of the month I allow students to work on projects that are one level up from where they currently are. This is to help some of my students that are stuck in a rut -- usually with keyboarding. This once a month chance to work on other projects gives them the motivation they need to kick it into gear and get to the next level.

- I have moved all of my lessons onto the Atomic Learning servers. The students now log-in and get right to work with everything in one place. I would say about 75% of my content is from AL, with the other 25% my own video that I have uploaded to their "custom training" side of things. The nice thing about Atomic Learning is that it is reliable and safe. Sending kids to YouTube for video tutorials can be risky at best. I have had videos that start off nice (on Excel formulas) but the person then drops the F-Bomb about half way through it when a formula doesn't work how he wanted it to. With AL videos I never need to worry about it.

So far so good with this year's launch. Next week they will work on their own badges, so keep your fingers crossed and we'll see how that turns out.

More updates to come...

Brad Flickinger Tech Teacher Bethke Elementary School, Colorado

Summer Professional Development Series: Collaborating with a Global Community

#edtech #atomiclearning SummerPDLogo (2)Are you looking for ways to connect your classroom to the rest of the world? Whether you would like to find internet pen pals (keyboard pals?) or you just want to introduce your students to different cultures and ideas, Atomic Learning's Training Spotlight on Collaborating with a Global Community gives you the tools you need to expand your classroom far beyond the walls of the building.