Cover art for podcast Educational Duct Tape: An EdTech Integration Mindset

Educational Duct Tape: An EdTech Integration Mindset

110 EpisodesProduced by Jake MillerWebsite

The #EduDuctTape Podcast, hosted by Jake Miller, focuses on viewing #edtech as a tool used to meet goals, address learning standards, and solve problems in the classroom, much as duct tape is used as a tool that solves a plethora of problems in our lives. In each episode, Jake sits down with a diffe… read more


James Varlack – Developing Engaging Instruction

James Varlack says that “Engagement is developed.” So, in his interview, I asked him how he develops his engaging instruction. We discuss how James works toward each of the 3 types of student engagement--emotional, behavioral, and cognitive--in both analog and digital ways. We discuss Jamboard, Google Docs, Google Slides, Padlet,,, Microsoft Teams whiteboard, Google Arts & Culture.

Show notes also available at

  • Today's Sponsor: Texthelp EquatIO -
  • Soapbox Moment: "The One Who Keeps Score & Gives Permission to Not Take the Shot"
  • Today’s Guest: James Varlack
    • James Varlack is a Digital Learning Specialist with McAllen Independent School District. He has worked in education for 10 years as a middle school math teacher and in campus technology. He and his wife Dawne moderate the #RGVEduChat and have 3 lovely children, Jayden, Zara, and Jordan.
    • Contact Info: Twitter: @jamesvarlack Email:
  • 2 Truths & 1 Lie
  • Educational Duct Tape Question:  How can I develop engaging instruction?
    • Having the content down is not enough if it’s not engaging
    • Know your learning goals
    • Connect with learners
    • “Engagement is developed...means it has a starting place, grows and is nurtured, etc. Engagement is a work in progress”
    • Greeting students, connecting with students, using names are all big for engagement
    • Adding pop culture references into things like a “problem of the day”
    • Using those pop culture references as backgrounds in Google Slides 
    • Learn about student interests with a survey (Google Forms, etc.) - “attack their interests”
    • Adding students names into problems
    • Hooks, reveals, challenges, brainteasers, puzzles,
    • Ditch Summit - Esther Park - talked about interaction - student-to-student, student-to-teacher, student-to-class, teacher-to-teacher
    • Collaborative spaces - Jamboard, Google Docs, graphic organizers or drag-and-drop activities in Google Slides, Padlet,,, Microsoft Teams whiteboard
    • "Become the master of your tool… it’s only time to move on when you’ve mastered it." - David Carradine, Kung Fu
    • "Digital gorge"
    • Pear Deck
    • Engaging Instruction = attracts and maintains attention, often means students are actively involved and a part of it (engaged in it)
    • Three different types of student engagement: emotional, behavioral, and cognitive -  (Classcraft, Jenny Fulton)
  • Celebration of the Adjacent Possible
    • Question - Adrienne Hudson
    • Edulastic
      • Great Data!!!
      • standards-aligned questions
      • Standardized test prep
      • Edulastic is great for item-analysis, mastery-based grading or standards-based grading, identifying students who need support, creating student mastery profiles that can be useful in parent-teacher conferences, and even breaking down assessment data based on a variety of factors or subgroups.
      • ScratchPad
      • Question Types include: Drag-and-drop, Diagram-labeling, multiple select questions, sets of multiple choice questions in a table
      • questions with images, videos or audio
      • Math tools include: Coordinate plane, Line plots, Fractions, Math formatting, Fraction diagrams
      • Paid features: Rubrics, built-in read-aloud feature, Desmos calculator, Snapscore, Co-authoring & collaboration, Improved data
    • Poll Everywhere
      • Flip phone origins!
      • Question types include: multiple choice, word cloud, Q&A with upvoting & downvoting, clickable images (click on a section of an image to indicate their answer), open ended, Surveys, short answer, select on a map
      • Launch from PowerPoint, Google Slides, Keynote, or Poll Everywhere’s site.
      • Students can respond within any mobile or web browser, using a mobile app or with text messaging.
      • Asynchronous option
      • Competitions - multiple-choice games are a lot like Kahoot or Quizizz
      • Paid - Show live results to participants, better reports
    • Mentimeter
      • Free Version gives you Unlimited audience size, presentations, and content slides, but up to 2 question slides and up to 5 quiz slides per presentation. Presentations are public.
      • Interactive presentations can include videos and images, polls, data, opinions
      • great for with smart phones
      • Question Slides include: Word clouds, Multiple choice, Fun Quiz competitions, Q&A (with upvote), Ranking questions, Image options, Open-ended, Scales questions, 2 by 2 grid, 100 point questions
      • Mentimote remote is pretty cool
      • Can put Surveys and forms in presentation
    • Apple Podcasts Review from guisee
  • Ways to Support the Show or Connect with Jake & other Duct Tapers!
  • The JakeMillerTech Newsletter – Sign up!

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