Three Unique Online Tools to Enhance the Classroom Experience




Most recently a principal intern at TechBoston Academy, Cory Olcott honed his skills in special education programs and operations as it relates to technological support. Cory Olcott dedicated time to researching and proposing technology solutions to enhance the classroom experience. The following tools can be useful and beneficial for improving classroom engagement.

Glogs: A subscription-based tool, Glogs adds visual appeal to the learning experience. The multimedia platform allows students and teachers to create interactive web pages and posters that incorporate audio files, graphics, and videos, along with other elements, to increase understanding of a specific subject matter. The tool is ideal for the in-classroom curriculum as well as those involving distance learning.

Storybirds: Storyboards gives students the ability to craft online books with artwork designed by artists and illustrators. An opportunity to practice writing skills and creativity, the books can be published online to a library monitored by a teacher.

Free Rice 2.0: Registration optional for tracking scores, Free Rice 2.0 operates like a game. While students partake in exercises, they are being tested on a variety of topics, ranging from mathematics to flags of the world. Foreign language activities also appear on the platform.


Cory Olcott: New Advances in Educational Technology

Advancements in technology and education have gone hand in hand for centuries, and the modern classroom is no different. Technological advances have enabled schools to offer students new and exciting ways to learn while giving teachers and administrators an expanded set of educational tools.

Teachers have been able to utilize the Internet to give their students new opportunities in learning. Language instruction has been transformed by free and easy videoconferencing, giving students the chance to learn a language from a native speaker. Web sites with science experiment simulations, entire libraries of classical literature, and multimedia presentations also help teachers provide vital supplemental materials.

In addition to giving educators access to innovative teaching tools, technology has helped transform the way schools operate on every level. Real time assessment data gives teachers the opportunity to provide immediate feedback to students; programs can time how long each student spends on a given question, or quickly calculate which questions are giving students the most trouble.

About Cory Olcott:

Since returning to teaching in 2003, Cory Olcott has devoted himself to helping prepare the next generation of Americans for educational success. An alumnus of Northwestern University and Stanford University, he is currently pursuing his second Master’s degree at Harvard University’s School Leadership Program.

Cory Olcott: Skiing Tips for Beginners

Hitting the slopes for the first time can be intimidating. The chilly weather and mountainous terrain make for a difficult atmosphere for beginners but, follow these tips and you’ll be ready for your first ski trip in no time.

1. Make sure you’re prepared. Locate a ski resort with friendly slopes for beginners and buy lift tickets.
2. Have the right gear. While specialized clothes are available for skiing fanatics, a quick trip to your closet should provide everything you need; just wear a layer of warm, insulating clothing under snow pants and a winter coat. Your friends may offer the use of their skis, boots, and poles, but you should opt to rent gear at the resort, as they will have modern equipment that will fit you perfectly.
3. Get a lesson. Ideally, you will be able to schedule lessons before you arrive, but a crash course in skiing basics will be required, so prepare to spend the first part of your excursion with a ski instructor.
4. Be honest about your abilities. After you’ve learned the basics, be sure to stick to slopes you can handle, and be sure to stay adequately hydrated, rested, and fed.

About Cory Olcott:

A dedicated educator and administrator, Cory Olcott is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in School Leadership at Harvard University. An avid skier, he also enjoys traveling, swimming, and spending time with his two children.

A Brief History of Water Polo by Cory Olcott

Water polo has its origins in 19th-century Scotland, where swimming coach and innovator William Wilson developed a game for the water that combined elements from rugby, soccer, and American football. The sport (originally called “aquatic football”) grew in popularity and gained official recognition from the Swimming Association of Great Britain in 1885.

Women did not begin playing water polo until the early 20th century. The first recorded game took place in Holland and sparked mild interest from women around the world. By 1926, however, many considered the game too rough for women to play, and national competitions in the United States were put on hold for decades.

In 1961, attitudes started to change. A women’s swim coach in Michigan revived interest in the sport and before long it rose again to prominence. Despite its rejuvenation in the 1960s, women’s water polo was not included as an Olympic event until 2000. In the 2012 summer Olympics, the American women’s team took the gold medal in water polo.

About Cory Olcott:

A coach and advocate of women’s water polo, Cory Olcott founded the women’s water polo program at Stanford University in 1995 and went on to coach the team to national recognition. Olcott has also coached water polo at the high school level. He recently completed a Master of Education at Harvard University.

The Advantages of Educating with Technology

By Cory Olcott

While the incorporation of new technologies in the classroom causes much debate, using such technologies has garnered notable results in engaging students. Studies by the Department of Education indicate that transforming learning into an active process, rather than passively receiving knowledge through lectures, results in an increased rate of information absorption, decreased disruptive classroom behavior, and improved student participation and performance.

In utilizing computer-based education techniques, benefits generally result from two advantages over traditional lectures. The first aspect, instant rewards, gives students immediate feedback on their performance, providing satisfaction at each achievement. The second, memory anchoring, refers to the process of connecting new information to existing information, or creating a memorable association to enhance retention. Game-based learning, for example, offers visual stimuli and narrative structure to anchor educational lessons.

About the Author: Cory Olcott possesses over a decade of experience in education, designing innovative curricula, and program evaluation.

Water Polo Rules by Cory Olcott

As we head into the London Games, a number of people have asked me to explain the sport of water polo. Most people have heard of water polo, but not everyone knows the rules of how the sport is played. In this two-part series, you will get a basic understanding of the game.

There are regulations governing how large the pool should be. Most courses are 25 meters x 20 meters, except at the international level where the men play in pools sized 30 meters x 20 meters. Minimum depth should be no less than two meters to prevent players from using the bottom of the pool. However, many teams, especially in high school, do not have regulation pools and play in nonstandard courses. Each team has seven players: one goalie and six field players. For international play, the home team typically wears white caps, the visiting team wears dark, and the goalkeepers wear red.

The game begins with a “sprint” in which the referee drops the ball at mid-pool and players swim from their own goal lines to the ball to try and control it. Only the field players can cross the mid-pool line; goalies must stay on their respective sides. Teams score points by throwing the ball across the goal line on the opposite end of the pool. The pool also features a 2-meter line, an off-sides line which the offensive player may not cross unless he or she has the ball, and a 5-meter line, outside of which a player may immediately shoot on goal if fouled.

Read the next segment in this series to learn more about fouls.

About the author: Cory Olcott is a former Head of the English Department at Woodside Priory School and water polo coach at Stanford. He recently graduated from Harvard University and has relocated to Lexington, Massachusetts.