Wednesday, August 31, 2016

3 Tips to Manage Digital Classrooms & #BacktoSchool #DigCit Guide fr @CommonSenseEd

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Advice for success in the digital classroom.
Do you pledge to empower students to use technology safely, responsibly, and effectively? 

Make it official at

When you do, you will get a back to school guide that will provide young people with the digital literacy and citizenship skills they need to thrive in today's world.

The guide focuses on these five areas:
1. Getting Students Engaged
2. Crafting a Creative Classroom
3. Assessing Students’ Understanding
4. Extending Learning 24/7
5. Bridging the Home-School Connection

The guide can serve as a great resource to share if your school provide teachers with back to school learning opportunities and materials. It also includes useful tips & resources such as the video below which contains three tips to successfully manage a digital classroom.  

Check it out and come back here to share what you think of the resource and how you used it where you work.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Liberate Genius In 20 Days

When I was a brand-spanking new teacher I was in awe of veteran teachers who had mastered classroom management. Classroom management is difficult for any teacher, but it can be even more difficult in an inner city school. The school where I started my career in the late 90s was the center of the book Push and/or movie Precious. It was a rough and tough place in Central Harlem, yet there were many teachers who had this classroom managment thing mastered.

I spoke to each of them separately to find out their secret. They all had the same answer and it really was a secret. The teachers who were the best at having a classroom with respect and students who were onboard with learning had one thing in common. The first month of school, they locked their doors and covered their windows and they spent time getting to know their students, building relationships, and coming up with ideas about how they wanted their classroom run. They explained trust and relationships must be established before they could dive into the curriculum, so the most respected teachers spent the beginning of the year, focusing on just that.

Now that may sound like a good idea, but what does it mean exactly, and how do you do it? They each had their own secrets, but there was nothing tangible they were able to pass along.

Until now...

"Liberating Genius, The First 20 Days" is an interactive guide by Angela Maiers and Mark Moran that brings teachers and their students on a journey via 20 lessons which you can do daily, biweekly, weekly or whatever works best for your student’s learning environment. Lessons address topics such as how to find your genius, how to connect with others to help you build your genius, how to collaborate effectively, and how to share your genius with the world.   

And you know what? They have even found it raises test scores if you care about that sort of thing ;)
One of the lessons is: My Passion Profile.  It introduces a tool called Thrively that provides a great framework for discovering and developing your passions.  It starts with a student strength assessment that helps students connect with, then pursue, their genius. It helps teachers get to know every student more in depth and helps students to connect with each over interests that school does not traditionally uncover.  

I love the resource so much, that I provided an opportunity for teachers to take a day out of their summer vacation to learn more about it.  You can click this link to hear their take-aways. 

Now, back to my beginning teacher days...  

I collected paper copies of some of the teachers lessons, handouts, and tools they used in their first month and the reality is it looked a lot like many of the resources available in the "Liberating Genius" guide and Thrively platform. The only thing is it was not organized so beautifully and it was MUCH harder to implement. 

Today, with Thrively, a lot of this is automated i.e. take a quiz, and poof, you get a personal strength's profile. The neat package of the book, takes the mystery out of what it takes to build a classroom where you know your student's genius and can grow to respect one another and actually work on making the world a better place. 

The secret is out. Innovative educators can make use of these fantastic and free resources with their students. If you do, please share how it goes. I'm excited to hear about the genius of your students.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

What It Means to Be A Connected Educator Highlighted in #CiscoFocus

Innovative Educators are Connected Educators. This month's issue of #CiscoFocus is all about how to be a connected educator. You can check it out at, There you'll find several useful articles looking at topics like digital tools and the future of connected education.

Here's an overview of what you'll find.  

They also suggest these eight educators to follow. I am a fan of most and there was even one who was new to me who I will start to follow. I was also thrilled to see I was included in the list.

Follow the Leaders

Interested in becoming or staying current with what it means to be a connected educator? Then read Cisco's Focus on Connected Education issue and follow these experts.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Hottest Posts Everyone's Reading for #BacktoSchool Preparation

Holding strong at the top for another week is a post that outlines how to Move From Lecture to Learning. This post is essential for innovative educators looking forward to #backtoschool strategies that go beyond the lecture. Also at the top is a topic on every teacher’s mind as they prepare for #backtoschool. Classroom set up and design. This post looks at what various classroom designs are inviting students to do. 

Also holding strong at the top is a post that asks teachers to consider if the professional development they provide or attend contains the five qualities that are necessary for success. Check out that post to see what those qualities are.

Rounding out the top is a post that looks at the elements necessary for a killer bio and  one that gives strategies to get to the thinking faster with alternatives to notetaking. 

If any of these posts are of interest, check em out and share with others using the buttons below on Twitter, Facebook, email or whichever platform you like best.

Aug 3, 2016, 3 comments
Aug 7, 2016, 4 comments
Aug 14, 2016, 4 comments
Jul 24, 2016, 2 comments
Aug 1, 2016, 6 comments

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

How @PokemonGo Inspires Learning

The Pokemon Go craze has taken this country and others (where available) by storm because it is a free-to-play, GPS location game that harnesses the power of augmented reality and gets people connecting and moving in their physical world. Immediately there were stories about how this could be used for learning. Mainly the emphasis was around the idea that you can learn about your community and historical landmarks via Pokemon Stops. And, that people were finally getting up and out into the world moving around to get to stops and hatch eggs.  It is even helping people with mental health issues get out and about.

After playing the game for a few weeks, I see another learning benefit not yet mentioned.

Monday, August 22, 2016

How to Use Livestreaming to Share Genius

Join me live to discuss livestreaming!  If you do, you can even get PD credit for attending as long as your supervisor approves.


You can watch our session in the video below, but before investing an hour of your time, check out details in this post to see what you'll learn and make sure it is right for you.


  • . Learn how to livestream and what platform is best for your teaching and learning goals.


  • Educators who are not afraid to capture and share the genius of themselves and others with the world.
  • The #NYCSchoolsTech educators want to be able to share their genius with the world. Now that livestreaming has become easier to use, we want to figure out ways to do this. We started by livestreaming about a half dozen sessions at our annual School Technology Summit. We want to know how we can take this further.

Essential Questions

  • What platform is right for what purpose?
  • How do we overcome fear and start sharing with one another?
Session Notes
Session notes, where, among other things, you can ask questions and chat can be found at

Who's in the Hangout
#NYCSchoolsTech educators who have been exploring using livestreaming for learning including:
Twitter Profile
Clemencia Acevedo
#NYCSchoolsTech Middle School #SpEd Teacher. Innovator. Runner and Tennis player. Passionate about #NYCSchoolsTech #FordhamDLC #teachingthoughts
Jackie Patanio

#NYCSchoolsTech Instructional Lead @SIBFSC


Patricia Wong
Media Librarian
Technology Liaison
Andrew Liebowitz

Virtual Learning Cafe's are the brainchild Jackie Patanio (@JPatanio) who heads #NYCSchoolsTech in Staten Island. While I've experimented with livestreaming professional learning opportunities in the past, it just never really took off in NYC Schools. Jackie wants to give it another go and I think the time and people doing this, might be just right for this to take off this time around.

HT to Ben Wilkoff (@bhwilkoff on Twitter) for the inspiration for the format which he created as part of Project Roundtable

Sunday, August 21, 2016

When Students Ask “Can I Friend You?”: An Ethical Response Guide.

I was excited to check out this Tweet from @TaliCSM the ed director at Common Sense Education about how to ethically respond to a student friend-request. It took me to educator Keegan Korf’s blog post where in short, she shared that she only “friends” former students, and warns them that inappropriate behavior will result in defriending.

Keegan’s simple and sensible policy mirror’s the practice of many educators I work with, know, and respect.

I replied to her Tweet explaining I had a different view.

I don’t like blanket policies and I don’t believe the only relationship to have with young people is teacher-student. I learn so much from students.

What I loved was Keegan’s excitement around the conversation and willingness to gain another perspective. This is how we develop and grow our thinking.  


You can see the exchange at the bottom of this post. You can see Keegan’s ethical response guide here. My ethical response guide, a work in progress, is at this link and below. Check them both out and think about what makes sense for you, or, if you have a different take, please share your insights in the comments.

The Twitter exchange that inspired this post:

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Hottest Posts Everyone's Reading for #BacktoSchool Preparation

This week a new #backtoschool post moves into the top. It asks teachers to consider if the professional development they provide or attend contains the five qualities that are necessary for success. Check out that post to see what those qualities are. Holding strong at the top is a post that outlines how to Move From Lecture to Learning. This post is essential for innovative educators looking forward to #backtoschool strategies that go beyond the lecture.

Also at the top is a topic on every teacher’s mind as they prepare for #backtoschool. Classroom set up and design. This post looks at what various classroom designs are inviting students to do. 

Another popular post asks, “Why Ask Why?” It shares the story of a teacher I met who was excited to stumble upon the idea of asking students “Why?” The post explains that’s simply not enough. We need to go further and help students to become the ones to ask questions and understand what type of question they are asking. 

If any of these posts are of interest, check em out and share with others using the buttons below on Twitter, Facebook, email or whichever platform you like best.

Aug 7, 2016, 4 comments
Jul 31, 2016, 1 comment
Aug 14, 2016, 4 comments

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Livestreaming Faceoff: @FacebookLive @PeriscopeTV @GoogleHangouts On Air

Editor's note: HT to @Mr_Casal the purveyor of geekery who reviewed and revised this post to help ensure it was technically accurate.

Livestreaming has been around for awhile making it's debut with platforms like UStream and Livestream. While those platforms were powerful, they didn't take off like the next wave of livestreaming platforms which have advantages of being ad free, cost free, and a built in audience.

Livestreaming's day has finally come and every innovative educator should begin exploring the power of the stream to provide students with meaningful and real learning experiences. In this post we look at three major streaming providers vying for you (there are many others…) and I provide my take on which platform is best for what you are trying to do.  

Periscope is a cool app where the account holder/broadcaster shares what they are experiencing or doing. Periscope allows viewers to write comments that appear in the livestream providing a great platform for those recording to speak to their audience.

What I like
One feature I like about Periscope is that it is integrated with Twitter, so you just log in to Periscope with your Twitter credentials.  You livestream from your phone and it posts directly to your Twitter account. It’s IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER TO USE HASHTAGS. This way your livestream goes not just to your followers, but to anyone interested in the topic about which you are streaming. This means when you go live you’ll always have people watching you live. What I also like is that if you are viewing a stream you can tap the screen and hearts will appear to show your support for what you are viewing. What I also like is that viewers can comment and those comments can be moderated. In addition, once the broadcast is complete the app will give you some minor analytics; duration of broadcast, number of viewers, viewers Twitter handles if applicable, average view time, etc. They are not deep analytics but they are great to use as teaching points when discussing audience and reach.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Does Your PD Have These 5 Essential Qualities?

Innovative educators aren't born, they're formed and one way that happens is by participating in and providing excellent learning opportunities. This means knowing what mistakes to avoid and being part of experiences that are more than the outdated “sit and git” lecture. And, it’s not just a preference. As reported in EdSurge, research supports this belief. Innovative educators and those who learn with and from them value learning that has the following five qualities:
  1. Relevant
  2. Interactive
  3. Delivered by someone who understands their experience
  4. Sustained over time
  5. Treats teachers like professionals

As connected educators, we appreciate places where we can build our teaching skills and share the best ideas to address classroom challenges. That’s why you’ll be excited to check out a cool site I’ve recently started using called Bloomboard. It does all that and it’s FREE to educators. In short, it supports educators with just-in-time professional learning driven by their needs and interests. It also aligns with the 5 qualities innovative educators identify as key to successful learning.

1) Relevant: Looking for resources aligned to your learning goals, needs, and interests? Bloomboard has more than 10,000 resources to help you improve your practice, no matter your subject or grade, searchable by topic. Educators organize the resources into collections (sort of an educator Pinterest board) which are designed to help you understand and apply information about a specific topic. Some collections I’ve enjoyed purusing include Maintain Professional Happiness  (including the most comfy shoes for back to school) and, of course, Technology. I’m checking out this 6-item collection on ways to use Snapchat in the Classroom. You can see what I’m doing on Snapchat by adding InnovativeEdu as a friend.

Each collection offers a mix of resources, to provide you with a complete understanding of the topic and a way to implement learning in your classroom.

Snapchat in the Classroom

Engaging students is key, right? Teachers are naming Snapchat Public Enemy #1 as far as distractions are concerned, leading them to the conclusion if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Like Twitter and Instagram that came before it, educators are finding inventive ways to use Snapchat in the classroom.
2) Interactive: The collections are alive! Discover and engage in meaningful discussions with those who have created or are using the collections. Meet new members of your personal learning network or invite existing ones to join you in exploring and discussing professional interests, challenges, and successes.

3) Delivered by Someone who Understands their Experience: Collections are created, vetted and curated by educators with expertise around specific topics. Educators can even create their own collections and share with others who can benefit from their expertise. It’s a terrific way to pull together and always find the best resources about topics of interest. What’s more is those who create their own collections receive the help of Bloomboard’s editorial team, who provides support, guidance, previews materials, and provides feedback as necessary before publication.

4) Sustained Over Time:  Educators can explore resources anytime, when they need it. They can also build their portfolio as they grow, saving recommended collections, helpful resources, and evidence that demonstrates how they applied learning into practice.

5) Treats Teachers Like Professionals:  Not only can educators showcase their expertise by creating collections, but they can also apply for and earn micro-credentials that provide a way to gain validated recognition for the skills and competencies earned throughout their career. These credentials can set you apart from the rest when looking for career opportunities. When you earn them, they are terrific to place on your resume, LinkedIn profile, email signature, and even Twitter profile [(like this one from Eileen Lennon) (here's how she did it)].  Additionally some progressive districts are awarding educators credit hours for earned micro-credentials. Check to see if this is the case where you work. If it isn’t, don’t stop there. Help drive the change to recognizing relevant learning experiences and push your school or district to update the ways they allow educators to demonstrate learning.

So what do you think? Do you agree that these qualities are essential? Anything missing? Does the PD you attend or deliver contain these five qualities? If not, what's missing and how could you modify?
You can check out Bloomboard at While you’re there, explore some collections around topics you’re focusing on this year, share some with your PLN, join the conversation by participating in a discussion, or create your own collection.