Friday, July 29, 2011

More PD In Your PJs-The Reform Symposium #RSCON3

Starting today is the Reform Symposium. It is 3 days full of free, online professional development. Started by several of my friends, most notably Shelly Terrell the Reform Symposium brings together educators from across the globe to learn from and with each other. There are several keynotes over the 3 days, lots of panel discussions and you could even win an iPad.

You can read more about the Symposium itself here and be sure to check out the list of sessions here.

From the shameless plug department, I will be on a panel on Saturday at 11:30 am EDT talking about the future of technology in education. Should be fun.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The #140EDU Conference

You might remember a year back I was able to participate in one of the first #140Confs in Los Angeles and the another in NYC.

This year Jeff Pulver has teamed up with the most awesome Chris Lehmann to bring the #140EDU Conference to the masses. This 140 is different from the others in that it's focus is all on education. More importantly how real-time information sharing is changing education.

Now, I have had the opportunity to meet with some pretty cool people at past conferences. Dennis Crowley (Co-Founder of Foursquare), Soleil Moon Frye (aka Punky Brewster), Ann Curry, and countless more. They are some of the most amazing people in the digital world.

But now we have a focus on just education. I will be there with my buddy Tom Whitby where we are going to talk about the effects we believe Educational Twitter Chats are having on making change in the classroom. There will be some other really great speakers there.

Some of it may be streamed live...


Why not attend in person?

Normally the cost to attend an event like this is $140.00. (Well worth the price for the two days of sharing/learning/growing). But Jeff really wants teachers and other educators to be there. So you can apply to attend for only $1.40. For less than the cost of your Starbucks you can spend 2 days talking about real-time information sharing in education with some really smart folks. (Now of course you have to get yourself there and that part is on your own.)

So if you are anywhere, not just in the northeast and can be in NYC next Tuesday (Aug 2) and Wednesday (Aug 3) I strongly encourage you to click the link below, fill out the form and join us!

Apply For Educator Pricing

Still not convinced? is a list of who is going to be there:

– Adam Bellow (@adambellow) – Founder, eduTecher
– Andrea G. Michnik (@AndreaGenevieve) – Director of PR and Social Media Marketing, International Studies Abroad
– Ann Leaness (@aleaness) – HS English Teacher, Grad Ed Adjunct and EdCampPhilly co-organizer
– Barry Joseph (@barryjoseph) – Online Leadership Program, Global Kids, Inc.
– Barry Schuler (@BSchuler) – Chairman, New Tech Network; Director, KnowledgeWorks Foundation
– Chris Lehmann (@chrislehmann) – Principal of the Science Leadership Academy
– Christian Long (@ChristianLong) – Vice President – Education, Cannon Design
– Cynthia Lawson (@cynthialawson) – Assistant Professor and Artist, Parsons The New School for Design
– Dale J. Stephens (@DaleJStephens) – Leader of the @UnCollege movement. Evangelist
– David A. Singer (@DavidASinger) – School Board Trustee, Harrison School District
– Debra Eckerling (@campusexplorer) – Senior Editor, Campus Explorer
- Don Burton (@dcburton) – Founder, eebee’s Adventures
– Donna Murdoch (@donnamurdoch) – Technology, Communication, and Education Sector, New York
– Douglas Crets (@DouglasCrets) – Director, dB C Media
– Dr. Douglas Green (@drdouggreen) – Retired Principal, Education Consultant based in Endicott, New York and blogger for DrDougGreen.Com
– Eric Sheninger (@NMHS_Principal) – Principal, New Milford High School
– Erik Endress (@erikendress) – Interactive & Social Media Specialist, New Jersey School Boards Association
– Ethan Bodnar (@ethanbodnar) – - Designer and senior at Hartford Art School (@HartfordArt)
– George Haines (@George_Haines) – Director of Technology, Sts. Philip and James School
– Gina Johnston (@NHSoCal) – Social Media Strategist, New Horizons Computer Learning Centers of Southern California
– Gregory Corbin (@JustGregPoet) – Executive Director, Philly Youth Poetry Movement.
– Inga Rós (@Inga_Ros) – Teacher, Commercial College of Iceland
– Jack Hidary (@jackhidary) – entrepreneur – business, social, political
– Janos Marton – Director, The Living Museum
- Jeff Keni Pulver (@jeffpulver) – founder, #140conf
– Joan Tiburzi (@JoanTiburzi) – current trustee and past president of the Harrison School Board
- John Mikulski (@JohnMikulski) – Middle School English Language Arts Teacher, Host of the Tightwad Teacher podcast,
– Karen Blumberg (@SpecialKRB) – NYCIST President. TEDxNYED, TEDxYouth@TheSchool, EdCampNYC, RoboExpo organizer.
– Katie McFarland (@Katiemc827) – Staff Development Specialist, Cattaraugus Allegany BOCES
– Kelly Sutton (@KellySutton) – Founder, HackCollege
– Kim Sivick (@ksivick) – Coordinator of Lower School Technology, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy
– Kristen Durkin (@Kristen_Durkin) – Graduate student at New York University, Huffington Post Blogger and Marketing Manager at Kforce Inc.
– Kyra D. Gaunt, Ph.D. (@kyraocity) – TED Fellow 2009. Voicing the unspoken thru song, scholarship & social media.
– Linnea Keys (@linneakeys) – Junior at Johns Hopkins University with a double major in History and East Asian Studies
– Lisa Nielsen (@InnovativeEdu) – Speaker. Author. Educational innovator.
– Louis N. Wool (@louisnwool) – Superintendent of Schools of the Harrison Central School District (and the 2010 NYS Superintendent of the Year).
- Lynn Langit (@llangit) – co-founder of Teaching Kids Programming
– Mahipal Raythattha (@mahipalr) – Founder, Brain Racer Inc.
– Marc Ecko (@marcecko) – founder, Marc Ecko Enterprises
– Meenoo Rami (@mrami2) – HS English teacher- Founder & moderator of #engchat. Teacher-Consultant for #nwp through #philwp and teacher at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia
– Mel Rosenberg (@MelRosenberg) – Educator, Parent, Futurist, Microbiologist
– Michael Margolis (@getstoried) – President and Founder, Get Storied
– Michele Haiken (@TeachingFactor) – Founder, theteachingfactor
– Mike Karnjanaprakorn (@mikekarnj) – Co-founder, Skillshare
– Patrick Higgins (@pjhiggins) – Supervisor of Humanities, Verona Public Schools
– Perry Hewitt (@perryhewitt) – Director – Digital, Harvard University
– Rebecca Levey (@beccasara) – Founder/Queen Bee,
– Shelley Krause (@butwait) – Academic Matchmaker & Tribe Finder, Rutgers Preparatory School
– Shelly S Terrell (@ShellTerrell) – Educator, tech trainer, Edtech, Elearning, TEFL. #Edchat coordinator.
– Steven W. Anderson (@web20classroom) – Educator, Speaker, Blogger, #Edchat Co-Creator, #140Conf Character, NOW Award Winner, ASCD Conference Scholar
– Tali Horowitz (@CommonSenseNews) – Education Program Manager, Common Sense Media.
– Tom Krieglstein (@tomkrieglstein) – Helping colleges create, increase, and measure student engagement as the founder of Swift Kick, creator of #SAchat and organizer of The NYEdTech Meetup.
- Tom Whitby (@tomwhitby) – Prof of Education. Founder: #Edchat, The EDU PLN Ning, Linkedin group Technology-Using Professors et al.
– Warren Etheredge (@thewarrenreport) – The Warren Report
– Wendy Brawer (@GreenMap) – Designer of services and products for sustainable communities, locally and globally
– Will Craig (@WillCraigatPWP) – Educational Director at Partners With Parents and Director of Educational Programming at The Handel Group

If that doesn't convince ya, I don't know what will. So check out the #140EDU Conference and I hope to see you there!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Digital Cleansing...

7 days I was unplugged.

For some one who is plugged in just about 24/7, having nothing that connected me to the outside world was interesting to say the least. I normally have a computer, iPad or Galaxy Tab, and phone within reach at all times. But for my annual vacation I didn't even bring these things with me. (I did take a phone just for emergencies but it was in my truck the whole time.)

I got up every morning and drank coffee and watched the morning start over the ocean. I read 5 books. Not eBooks, but books. Fingers touching the pages. There was something nostalgic about it. I put my feet in the water everyday and watched my 2 year old as she discovered what mysteries lie in the sand. I ate...probably too much. Spent countless hours reminiscing with my family and friends.

And I reflected.

I thought about the past year... What had I done? What had I accomplished? What didn't I get around to? What was the thing I did that had the most impact?

And I thought about the next year... What do I want to do differently? What do I hope to accomplish? What can I do to have the most impact?

And I thought....and thought...and thought....

Reflection is an important part of who I am both as a person and as a professional. I get to do a lot of that reflection here, publicly, on my blog. But I don't take enough time to do it just for my self. This was a great time to just put all distractions aside and think and be. (I need to do that more than once a year.)

Sometimes, we get so wrapped up in this digital world that we live, and eat, and breathe everyday. I know I do. Rushing to check Twitter or my reader or email whenever I have a spare moment (or more often). And yes, those things are important but if we don't take time to disconnect and really just reflect, how will we know ourselves and our place and what we want to do?

So, I am glad to be reconnected to the digital world but my cord is short now. I am going to spend more and more time doing what's important and that is reflecting on who I am, what I want to be and where I am going.

Join me?

Flickr CC-KevinDooley

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Where Am I?

Flickr CC-Puffsdaddy
So if you are seeing this post you might be wondering where I am. Or maybe not. But the story is still interesting none the less.

Each year I go on vacation. And starting 2 years ago when I go on vacation, I go on vacation. I don't take any technology with me. Nothing that will connect me with the outside world for 7 days. No computer. No Kindle. No phone. Well, I do take a phone since I will be driving somewhere but it stays in my truck. No Twitter or Facebook or Google Circles. Nothing electronic.

This digital cleanse is tough for me in some respects. I am plugged in virtually 24 hours a day. And this is my chance to get away from everyone and everything and reflect on my year. I will do a lot of writing, with pencil and paper. I have a stack of books that desperately need to be read. And I have a lot of thinking and relaxing to do.

While being connected is an important part of who I am, being disconnected for this time each year for a full 7 days is also helping rediscover who I am as an educator, and a person. So even if you don't give it up for 7 days, take some time way and go unplugged. Reflect and rediscover yourself....

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Innovation In Teaching Follow-Up

Earlier I asked for y'all to tell me what you though innovation in teaching and in the classroom looked like.I got a ton of great responses. Here are a few that stuck out to me...

  • Innovation is about flexibility, adaptability and related to that infamous "with-it-ness" that educators are supposed to have. Ideally, being a thought ahead of learners (anticipating the question or the problem) is related, but what you do to address these is the critical point.While we can "solve any problem" with technology (just go with it), identifying the problems is more of the issue than using the tools.In a commercial application, innovation is about opportunity, but the same holds true in the teaching and learning environment. Capitalizing on momentum (like the teachable moment, current affairs, etc.) as well as following trends to anticipate those events.
    If nothing else, points to ponder. -@chrisbath1
  • I believe once an educator moves from type 1 instruction (learning from technology) to type 2 (learning with technology) to create PLE's--for herself and her students--it's the first step towards innovative methodology. I work at a school where this is encouraged and supported. Are we edu technology innovators? Yes, in our local community we are considered to be innovative. Are we innovators in comparison to the national educational community? We are not. Moving towards innovation has to be nurtured and defended and perspectives maintained to prevent discouragement.  -@lkjohnson09
  • Innovation while teaching is creating community in the classroom. Building trust and make the classroom a "safe place" by setting ground rules and instilling the importance of respect and allowing students to have a voice.  These ground rules create culture. The best way to begin to build culture is by asking the students what would the optimum learning environment "look like". Colaboration is key. This is how leaders are born and learning flourishes.That is when the magic happens, walls come down and teaching begins. Sometimes I am the one who learns the most. -@SpeakToChildren
  • I think it involves giving our students a set of skills or relevant information and then an opportunity to use EVERYTHING they know to create solutions, develop their thoughts and ideas, create interesting and meaningful art, etc.  I think innovation is related to critical thinking and the application of knowledge.  The key is keeping our students from thinking there is one correct answer.  I want my students to have an idea and be able to explain its worth, hear the questions and comments from others and then be able to revise or build on their idea.  I want them to be thinkers before, during and after our learning. -@jackieobright

You can read the rest of the responses in the spreadsheet I have embedded below.

A few takeaways from reading these...

Collaboration was mentioned more than once. But collaboration isn't a new skill, right? Kids have been collaborating for centuries in one form or fashion. What we need to do is get that collaboration in our classrooms, build upon it there, then let them collaborate with folks from around the globe.

Another thing I read was about moving away from technology as a focus to more of technology as just another tool to use. Look, there is virtually no difference in the pencil and the computer. (Ok, some slight differences but just go with it for now...) They pretty much do the same thing. If I want to write a paper I can use either. If I want to design something I can use either. So I don't remember PD centered around how to integrate pencils into the curriculum. We need to shift our thinking and our PD away from being tech centered and move it to more curriculum. And that is where I believe we will see innovation happen.

There is lots of innovation in schools and classrooms everywhere, everyday. It may not have anything to do with technology. It might just be a teacher, who cares about kids, who wants the absolute very best for them everyday and will do everything in their power to make sure they have what they need and they have the opportunities to challenge their thinking. Innovation is less about action and more about attitude. But it is our attitudes that turn into positives actions that drives real change in education.

Direct Link To This Spreadsheet:

Monday, July 11, 2011

What Does Innovation In The Classroom Look Like?

-the introduction of something new
-introduction of new things or methods.
-Although the term is broadly used, innovation generally refers to the creation of better or more effective products, technologies, or ideas. Innovation is distinguished from renovation in that innovation generally signifies a substantial change or difference versus more incremental changes.

The term "innovation" gets tossed around a great deal in education. Bill Gates, the President, and others have called for more "innovation" in the classroom. But, many times, the examples of what innovation is either not innovative or vague at the least.

So what I want to hear is what is innovation in the classroom. What do educators think innovation looks like, sound like, feel like. What is innovation in teaching? When we say more innovation is needed, what do we mean?

I have a simple form below. Fill it out and then at the end of the week I will compile all the results into one post so we can see if we can figure out what innovation is and where to go from here.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Reading Classics By Email

I enjoy to read, although I don't make enough time for it. And there are any number of excuses I could give but I will spare you. So when I hear about DailyLit, I was intrigued and decided to give it a go.

Here is how it works. You sign up using any number of accounts you already have (Twitter, Facebook, Google, OpenID). Fill out as much of the profile as you want, upload a photo, bio, etc and connect your Twitter and/or Facebook if you want to send updates there and you are done. Takes just a few moments.

So, you are armed with your account. What do you do now? Browse. There are almost 1000 titles to choose from, all free. It's been a while since I had to read any classics (high school to be exact) so I headed over to that section to check out the offering. Don Quixote sounds good. I remember reading it but it seemed like a good choice to start out with.

This is where things get interesting. It's not an eBook in the traditional sense that you read on your reader. Instead the thing that makes DailyLit appealing is the fact that you get the book in chunks, delivered to you via email or, even better, RSS. You decide the frequency of the chunks. I am getting mine daily around 9am via email. But maybe you want to get your just through the week or on the weekends. Or maybe a different time of day. Or maybe you want longer chunks or shorter ones. It is so easy to customize or even suspend and pick it up later if you want. Don Quixote is 454 installments if that gives you an idea. Takes about five minutes to read but remember you can make those chunks longer and even get them more often, say a a few at at time to save up for a trip through the airport or traveling in the car.

You can subscribe to more than one book at a time, but keep in mind, if you are like me, you might not want to try to keep up with several books at once. Oh and did I mention you can read these on any device. So anywhere you can access your email or RSS feeds you can read the chunks.

So checking this all out got me thinking about the classroom. Some kids get really intintimidated by just the size of some texts and are turned off. This is a very easy and non-threatening way to get kids engaged in reading some really great books. And from a lesson standpoint. If you know what chunks kids are reading because of the frequency, it can make things a little easier.

While you are at the beach or on vacation this summer check out DailyLit, and their wide offering of texts and think about how you could use it in or out of the classroom.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Reflections On #ISTE11

Another ISTE annual conference has come and gone...

How many days until the next one?

(Something like 360...)

I was talking to some folks who are in Edtech but don't go to the conference. They were asking me about the sessions and all the great, new things I learned and saw. I had to confess, I only attended 3 sessions. One was the SIGMS Learning Tools Family Feud. (How could this be missed? This is a must attend session every year. Really, do yourself a favor and check out the video.) Another was a session done by my good friend Adam Bellow and his 10 Tech Commandments. And the last was looking at 3 types of research done on the evaluation of instructional/educational technology programs.

That was it.

I didn't see a keynote, spotlight session, model lesson, workshop, BYOL, anything. The keynotes where not by choice. There was a problem with the video/audio so I will definitely be going back to watch those.

When I explained all this to the folks they were puzzled. Why would I not go to hardly anything yet still think I had a successful conference? How could that be? Because maybe all the learning doesn't happen in the sessions....

I go to places like ISTE and other conferences for the people. I really enjoy meeting people and sitting and talking and learning, debating and sharing. Being in the Newbie Lounge or Bloggers Cafe or at a lunch counter in Reading Terminal Market, I can have as deep or more of a learning experience as sitting in Room 103BC.

I do learning 24/7. Through things like Twitter, blogs, on-demand webinars, online conferences and more, I can keep up with trends, what's new and what innovative practices are happening without having to wait for a quarterly research journal or an annual conference. Being at ISTE allows me to catch up with people who I only get to see once a year (or less). Sure, we have conversations everyday on Twitter or Facebook or other places, but it's those face-to-face interactions that are the most meaningful to me.

Plans are already underway to make it to ISTE12 in San Diego. That's a long way from the Ol' North State where I am. But I know that every mile will be worth it to share, learn and grow with and from folks from all over the world.

On a side note, one thing I did see more of this year was kids. There were students all over because there was (what seemed liked) an expanded Student Showcase. I did spend some time walking through there and listening to all the cool things kids are doing in their schools. That is one thing this conference needs more of. Kids. If there are model lessons, they should be kids involved. BYOL? Kids. So if you are going to put in for a session next year try to include kids. I know that is easier said than done with travel budgets so small there isn't any money to go across town but think about how awesome it would be to be in sessions run by kids sharing their learning and why it's important.

There is more to reflect upon. I still need to see the Opening and Closing keynote and I need to go through some of my notes and to just think about things. But I know already this was one of my favorite conferences I have been to, until next year of course.

What's your experience. Did you go to ISTE11? What did you think? If you didn't go, do you think conferences like that are still relevant? With all the place and forms learning can take on, is it necessary to even have conferences in their current form? What do you think?

Someone described the last day of ISTE as feeling like the last day of summer camp. Too true. But in away it's a beginning too...