Shorten Your Facebook Fan Page URL

Last June, Facebook allowed users to shorten the URL that directs friends to their individual site.  Instead of friends or potential friends having to search for a particular user using Facebook’s search feature, they could instead be directed to go directly to a friend’s page at  Essentially, it is supposed to be a time and space-saver.

With more users creating “fan” pages for everything from small businesses to community clubs to classrooms, Facebook allows the same URL shortening service if your page has 25 fans or more. The process is simple.

1.  While logged into the account associated with your fan page, visit

2.  Select your fan page from the “Page Name” drop down menu.

Facebook | Username

3.  Create a unique username and check availability.

Now you’re set to send your users to the shortened URL!  This is much easier for publications and publicity, although Facebook offers several options for electronically promoting your pages.

Feel free to visit (and “like” or “fan” or whatever we’re calling it this week) my classroom’s page at

Also look for more information from Ryan Collins’s blog on why/how teachers should create Facebook pages.

Using Evernote to Organize Teaching Ideas

The same day I was offered my first teaching position, I dug out a legal pad from the “Stuff from College” box and sat down with every teaching resource book I had.

Almost five years later, my resources seemed to have multiple exponentially (and many have moved online) yet I’m still trying to cram them onto legal pads.


I have page after page on tablet after tablet of a hodgepodge of ideas for instructing and assessing and everything in between. I try to include sources for where I get ideas (my first summer, the codes were as simple as “BB” which stood for “blue book”).

Next year I’m heading to a fifth grade classroom for the first time. As I’m quickly accumulating more and more resources to sort through, I also decided it was time to clean up the legal pad situation.

I have used Evernote off and on, mainly as a writing tool from my iPod Touch for documents that needed a little more order than the included “Notes” app could provide. Last week, I moved to the Macintosh desktop app of Evernote.


I added a new notebook called, “Ryan’s Teaching Ideas” and plan to add a unique note for each teaching idea. I think the best feature that will fit my situation is the “tagging” options for each note. There is a nice search feature that will allow me to go back through my plethora of materials and search for “rubrics” or “american revolution” or “setting.”

Unfortunately, short of emailing a note, Evernote doesn’t provide any sharing capabilities (yet?). I’d like to be able to share ideas publicly and include screenshots, links, screencasts, etc. when I actually execute some of the ideas.

Does anyone else have a (better?) system in place for managing/organizing/searching your brainstorms? I’d love to hear about it.

Netflix Wasn’t the Answer


Image Courtesy: Netflix Media Center

For years, I’d receive my bi-monthly mailing from my friends at Netflix trying to convince me that I should sign up for a free trial offer.  And for years, each envelope was wasted postage on Netflix’s end.  They all ended up in the trash.

A few weeks ago, I was speaking with a friend about movies when he mentioned that Netflix “instant streaming” can now be streamed through my Wii console.  I went home and signed up for my trial.

Several weeks in, I thought I was on to the new sliced bread.  I used Netflix at school to stream “Scooby Doo: Where’s My Mummy” during a study hall day when no one had homework. (Fear not, it fit my Egypt standards.) After staying up way past my bedtime watching my first episode of “24” one night, I was able to stream the whole first season one weekend on the Wii.  I spent a manly Saturday afternoon with “No Country for Old Men.”  And I spent a date night with “Yes Man” and Elizabeth.

I was convinced that my ten bucks a month investment in Netflix had revolutionized the way I watched movies. Past tense.

Tonight, Elizabeth suggested we watch, “Office Space,” as she had never seen it and had heard several of our friends quote it recently.  After I picked my jaw off the floor, I immediately reached for the Wiimote to start the streaming.  I searched, and searched, and searched. (Note: the Netflix Wii interface is a disaster when searching for a specific movie!)  No Wii streaming.  No browser streaming.  Netflix fail.

I jumped in the truck and headed to Family Video to spend my $1.07 to get the flick for five nights.  I got to thinkin’.

And here comes the parallel.  We have to remember, as educators, that there’s no cure-all.  There’s no one method, one book, one lesson, one approach, one theory, one path to student success.  We’re dealing with dynamic, independent, breathing creatures.  God put a pretty complex mind in each one of them that despite the newest research and approaches, we still know very little about.

As I transition into my new position as a 5th grade language arts and social studies teacher, I’m getting hit from several directions (both from self-seeking and mandated programs from my district) about the way to teach.  There isn’t one.  Netflix wasn’t the answer.  Teaching takes learning…and I don’t mean on the students’ part.  If we want to touch dynamic students, we must be dynamic teachers.  “Lifelong learner” shouldn’t be something we put on resumes and cover letters.  It should be a checkbox on administrators’ interview form.

It’s All About Perspective

In my Master’s class a couple weeks ago, we were talking about administrators giving out end-of-the-year surveys/evaluations to teachers to assess the administrator.  The conversation moved to what exactly one should do with the information gained from the survey.  As it’s likely some of the responses are going to be a litte rough (to say the least), it’s important that administrators keep who the writer is in perspective.  That’s when my prof brings out this story:

Bill and Ethel had been married many years.  As they both grew older, Bill began to think Ethel was starting to lose her hearing.  Being the sensitive, loving husband that he was, he wasn’t exactly sure how to appropriately bring the issue up with his dear wife.

One day the couple went to the doctor for their annual phsyicals.  While Ethel was out the the room, Bill asked the doctor how he thinks Bill might bring up the issue with his wife.  The doctor replied, “That’s easy.  The next time she’s in a room with her back to her, come up behind her and say something.  You’ll be able to judge her hearing loss by how close you have to get to her before she hears you.”  Bill liked the idea.

A few weeks later, Bill entered the kitchen while Ethel was preparing dinner at the kitchen sink.  From across the room, Bill spoke with a normal voice, “Ethel, how long till dinner is ready?”  Ethel didn’t reply.  Oh, this is bad, he thought.  He took a step closer to her back and again asked, “When will dinner be ready, honey?”  Again, no reply.  Bill was deeply concerned.  He took another step closer and repeated the question, “When’s supper ready?”  Still nothing.  Gravely saddened about the state of her hearing, he stood right behind Ethel and gave it one last effort.  “When’s dinner going to be ready?”  Ethel turned sternly and yelled, “IN FIVE MINUTES, FOR THE FOURTH DAMN TIME!”

Perpective.  It’s an important factor to keep in mind in the classroom, behind the principals desk, and probably across every aspect of our lives.