Thursday, November 19, 2015

3rd Grade Google Slide: The Year Long Reflection

The Project:

Using Google Slides 3rd grade students will create a 13 slide presentation, one month at a time, over the entire school year.

The Why?

It is never too early to start building a digital portfolio and not every portfolio will look the same. But one great way to show true growth and progress is not to publish the best of the best, as most portfolios tend to be, but rather show real, individual progress and growth though the eyes, and words, of the students themselves. It's important for students to think about, and voice, the things that stand out to them the most, their "a-ha" moments of clarity, their personal triumphs. It is also important for students to keep a record of such things and look back on them. It's one thing for us as teachers to say "you've come so far" but it's far more powerful for the student to look at a body of work and say "this is how I've grown."

The How?

Friday, October 9, 2015

Addressing Twitter concerns...

I am often asked about social media’s role in education, Twitter in particular. These questions are often brought about by parent concerns, which often mirror the initial concerns of teachers.

When addressing parent concerns I approach it just as I do with teachers:

  1. concerns are normal
  2. I’m happy we are discussing concerns as opposed to flat out rejecting the concept
  3. concerns are a learning process for me as much as for those bringing them to me, as they help me reflect on my practice as well as see what I do through an external lens

I have written many things in the past about social media in schools but there are always new questions that aren’t addressed by old posts.

This post looks at the two most recent concerns I’ve received:

  1. There is a time stamp if you follow it. One can piece together a class schedule.
  2. Why are teachers stopping instruction to take photos?

Let me address each of these one at a time…

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Celebrating the tweeters @HeathcoteSchool

I think it is important to promote, and celebrate colleagues. Especially when they step out of their comfort zone and embrace new challenges.

When I joined the staff at Heathcote Elementary School in Scarsdale last year only a handful of teachers had Twitter accounts. And those that had accounts used them mostly for tweeting a picture of the whiteboard with the homework written on it.

When I interviewed for the job I expressed my passion for Twitter in schools and I was given full support by my new principal to push it as a school-wide initiative.

And my new colleagues were awesome. They jumped in full force.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Kindergarten seems to be working

Over the last week or so I wrote about my toughest day as a teacher and how we survived the first day of Kindergarten.

I'd say we've more than survived..

... I think we've rocked it.

And by "we" I mean my daughter. Her mother and I have coped with our little girl growing up as any parent does, a few tears of our own and lots of nostalgia. My rock star daughter has gone from tears on day one to excited for school by day three.

She has even turned our playroom into a classroom:

Thursday, September 10, 2015

We survived the first day of Kindergarten

Yesterday was my toughest day as a teacher, but we all got through it. And by "we" I mean what I like to call the "over 6 set." Mother, father, grandparents... more butterflies for us if I had to count.

It was my daughter's first day of Kindergarten. A half day, but a first is a first.

There were tears, a few from my girl and a few from my wife. Apparently Nana, my mother-in-law, got a bit weepy looking into the classroom at pickup and seeing my girl with a giant smile on her face. But who wouldn't. End of the first day and she's got a giant smile. Good stuff.

My son just wanted to play. Because he had a donut as a treat. On my daughter's first day of school. Do the math on that one. Apparently being the little brother has it's privileges.

My daughter was a champ. She love it. My wife was a champ. Apparently there were no meltdowns or major hysterics from the over 6 set. Proud of everyone.

Another first today

Today is the first full day. The first time my daughter is eating lunch at school. Another day of nerves. More the over 6 set, I think my daughter's fine with it. She practiced eating lunch with her lunchbox when she got home yesterday.

Should be some awesome stories when I get home tonight. School cafeterias always evoke interesting emotions. More on that in a minute...

Mrs. V and Mrs. Liz

Mrs. V is my daughter's teacher. Mrs. Liz is the class para professional. Apparently they are both rock stars. My daughter had a few tears at drop off. Mrs. Liz came right over, comforted her, took her in and it was all good from there. I heard a lot about Mrs. Liz when I got home from work. Good things.

Mrs. V is now an icon. In the words of my daughter
"Mrs. V. is so beautiful and kind..."
Post dinner we had to go sit in our playroom and act like students so my daughter could draw on her easel and teach us. Just like Mrs. V.

The bad with the good

It was a great morning. Everyone did great. Everyone was, and still are, excited. Minimal tears all around. But as with anything there's always a flip side, a bit of a bummer for every win. The bummer for the day was the second half of the quote from my daughter:
"... but the cafeteria smelled like yuck"

Welcome to elementary school!

It's going to be an awesome year.  My daughter is a rock star and is embracing school like a champ.

Now I just have to get Mrs. V to tweet...

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

My toughest day as a teacher

My toughest day as a teacher is today.

It's not my first day of school, we started last week.

It's not a new school, that was last year.

It's not a new content area.

It's my daughter's first day of Kindergarten.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

As the sun sets on summer

I'm down to the last few days of summer vacation.

That means I'm cramming in the summer projects I always postpone to the last minute: Costco trips, cleaning out the basement, and starting the 15 blog posts drafts I told myself I'd be writing and publishing all summer long.

I don't lament the end of summer. I'm looking forward to the start of the school year.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

School Technology Summit 2015 presentation - NYCSTS15

Welcome to my portion of the School Technology Summit 2015, presented by the Division of Instructional & Information Technology of the New York City Department of Education!

This is the third year for the Tech Summit. My materials from last year can be found here. Just like last year I have created this post for my session slide deck. Once again, the day looks to be an amazing day of learning with a lot of great session opportunities. I am putting all my presentation resources here, in this one post, to make it easy for everyone to have access to my content, even if you are unable to attend in person.

I hope you find my material & presentation valuable...

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Life moves pretty fast, especially with wifi

I'm on a bus. Headed from Portland, Maine to Boston. I'm blogging on my iPhone using the bus' WiFi.

It's crazy to think the iPhone is only 8 years old (version 1 was released 6/28/07). That's nuts. Less than a decade ago flip phones, the smaller the better, we're all the rage. Remember Nokia and the Blackberry?

The iPad first came to stores in April of 2010. Just over 5 years ago the world was introduced to what has become a truly landmark and revolutionary device. 

June 2007 the world got the iPhone.

April 2010 the world got the iPad. 

And here I am, July 2015 and I'm blogging on a phone using wifi in a bus doing 70 mph south down the Maine turnpike.

Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Periscope the school

A few months ago the concept of live-streaming video directly to Twitter hit the market. Meerkat was the first app to launch. It rapidly gained popularity, so Twitter went out and bought its competitor Periscope.
Why does this matter? Because live streaming video of school events is awesome. And not just graduations and PTA meetings, but everyday events. Things like student presentations and project shares are natural fits. If students are practicing presenting their work to an audience, their class, why not also give them some experience presenting live to the world? No, they can't see their Periscope audience, but knowing someone could be watching is a great way to hone presentation sills.

I used it for two main purposes this year:
  • Student shares
  • Live performances

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Power of the Hashtag - Social Media as an Educational Imperative

I fully believe social media is a new school imperative. Yes, social media in school is absolutely necessary, required, and unavoidable

At various time throughout history schools have taken on new technology imperatives. From the slate to the pencil to the mimeograph to the fax machine. Then computers, email... the eternal stream roller that is progress and innovation.

There have always been the new "must haves."

I'm sure with all of those iterations of educational transition there have been naysayers. People who shunned the pencil. Thought the mimeo was a ridiculous expense. Saw no use for a fax machine. Tried to leave computers unplugged. Even email, in 2015, gets the occasional "I don't use that" response from the occasional staff member (yes, not a joke, last year, 2014, as a New York City Department of Education employee I was told by a colleague to communicate via handwritten notes because he "doesn't do email").

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Thank you, #ISTE2015

That's it. It's over. I'm riding the rails outta town. Philly, you've been amazing. Thank you for the hospitality.


ISTE? You are my hero.


This was my first ISTE experience and it was everything the hype said it would be. I've long been a member of the #notatISTE crowd, but this year I had the good fortune to see it live.


Tons of great sessions.

Tons of places to meet and connect.

Great events to unwind and socialize.

Unfathomable amounts of incredible people sharing awesome stories of the amazing things they are doing in schools.


My brain hurts. In the best way possible.


Thank you, ISTE.


Thank you to all the friends I got to see again, and all the new people that are no longer strangers. Thank you Philly for hosting. Thank you all.


At some point there will be a longer reflective blog post, or four. But for now I just needed to say thank you.


Thank you, ISTE and everyone I had the great fortune to interact with. It was an amazing experience.


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The new essential questions...

What drives us? What are those questions we ask ourselves, even if we don't expect a hard and fast answer? Those questions that we seek to answer, hoping the search leads to the embodiment of the question, are the essential questions.


Here at #ISTE2015 Angela Maiers posed a question to the twitterverse:


Sunday, June 28, 2015

#ISTE15 or #ISTE2015 - View both in HootSuite

So many hashtags, so little time. How to keep multiple hashtags manageable on your iPad? HootSuite and a keyword column!


Have to give a big hat tip to Alice Keeler, the inspiration for this post.

She recently posted a similar title to her blog, "#ISTE15 or #ISTE2015 - View both in Tweetdeck" and it got me thinking... I'm not bringing a laptop to ISTE so how can I use HootSuite on my iPad to accomplish the same thing Alice describes, two hashtags in a single column stream...?


Here's how to do multiple hashtags in a single column on HootSuite for iOS...


In anticipation of #ISTE2015

As I begin my journey to Philladelphia my head is swimming. ISTE has long been a conference I've wanted to attend but never could. In the past it always seemed to fall during the last week of school, a week I could never miss. This year it comes immediately as the school year ends.


A lot of my students go away to sleep-away summer camp. I never did as a child. The past few weeks I've heard countless tales of the bus rides, the cabins, the friendships, the excitement, tha anticipation. The fun. As ISTE has approached I started to feel much the same way. Eagerly awaiting the moment my train pulls away from Penn Station headed to Philly...

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Live streaming 1st grade egg hatchings!

Every year the 1st Graders get eggs and learn about the process of chickens hatching.

We are live streaming the eggs and the hatching process!

For the technically inclined here is how I set it up:

  • MacBook "late 2009"
    • 2.26 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
    • 4 GB 1067 MHZ DR3
    • OSX 10.9.4
    • these are old, stripped down, refurbished systems
      • no battery
      • few apps
      • essentially solely running the encoder
  • Used my lab's YouTube channel to set up a Live Event
  • I did not use Google Hangouts because they have an 8 hour stream limit and we were looking for a 7-10 day continuous, 24/7 stream
  • Installed Adobe Flash Media Live Encoder
  • required for YouTube Live Events not using Hangouts - allows for 24/7 feeds
  • Set up my stream specifics
  • YouTube walks you through it
  • Preview the feed
  • Started streaming
  • Emailed links to teachers to share with parents & posted feeds on lab blog
A couple a quirks:

Monday, March 23, 2015

ASCD 2015 - Day 2

Day 2 began early.

First session 8:00am...

I was fortunate to be on a panel with Elana Leoni of and Joe Manko an awesome principal from Baltimore. Our panel was "Creating a 140 Character Culture: Schoolwide Twitter Adoption." We've spent a lot of time over the last few months prepping for this and it was a great experience to work with Elana and Joe. Being able to present with them was opportunitiy I was very fortunate to have. If you don't know Elana or Joe, connect with them. They are both doing amazing things with social media in education (keep an eye out for us at ISTE too). They are pretty awesome people.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

ASCD 2015 - Day 1

This is my third year coming to ASCD. I love this conference. It's not just tech. It's not just curriculum. It's not just teachers. Of all the conferences I've been too I think ASCD is always the most varied in terms of session topics, featured speakers, and overall coverage of education. It's always a great few days.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Is my ED not as meaningful as an MD or JD?

A colleague has diplomas up in his classroom. It looks great. And not just diplomas, but awards, accolades, and certificates as well. A former administrator of his said, "if doctors and lawyers do it, why shouldn't teachers?"

Great point, got me thinking...

... all of my stuff is in boxes in the basement. I think. Honestly, I'm not sure. Maybe I don't care. Maybe that's the point...

Monday, February 2, 2015

My snow day. And a new perspective

I had a snow day today. What makes this somewhat different from past snow days is that I no longer teach in the district in which I live. That means while I had a snow day, my kids did not.

It got me thinking. Thinking about what today afforded me that I rarely, if ever, get to experience.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Where's Jack?

I loved "On the Road"

It was a definitive tome for me. It was the first book that ended up folded from days spent in my back pocket. It was the story to made me want to wander. I never did wander the way Jack and the boys did, but I was never inspired to, or since, to wander in the way they did.

It was months on a bus.

It was a typewriter.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Chrome's multiple users update

Yesterday Google updated Chrome.

One of the best features of Chrome is the ability to multiple Google accounts logged in simultaneously (previous tutorial post here)

The feature is still there, Google just tweaked the visual...

You no longer see the icons like this:

It now looks like this:

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

iMovies on paper with Aurasma

One of my pet peeves is the traditional bulletin board. As a technology teacher I feel the traditional paper stapled to cork board is counter intuitive to what students do in the lab.

Paper bulletin board are fine for certain things, but if students are creating animations or layered presentations or movies how do you do their work justice by printing a still image and putting it on a board. How do you honor and celebrate their work beyond simply unloading to YouTube or blogging about it? How do you showcase their work in the hallway without losing any of their awesome?

Augmented reality...