Monday, December 22, 2014

The only 2 things on the internet

I have long told my students there are only 2 things on the internet.


Nothing more, nothing less.

I use this, especially with elementary school students, as a way to explain, simply, the tenets of safe web use.

The only two things on the internet are

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The best part of #edscape? It's an excuse...

Today is Saturday.

A weekend.

A day off.

I just spent the day in New Jersey at the Edscape Conference.

Yes, you can say I'm a dedicated educator. I'm committed to my craft. I'm a lifelong learner. I willingly give up my weekend for professional development... blah blah blah.

But after today I think that's all a lie...

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fear is not an option when it comes to social media in schools

Innovative educators know first hand that social media like Twitter, Facebook, Google, and Instagram can be a powerful tool for teaching, learning, leading, and strengthening the home-school connection. In many cases though, others may need to be brought on board. Especially when parents are expressing concerns and unsure of how a platform can be used successfully.

It is the job of innovative educators to ensure parents, colleagues, and administrators know how to embrace the power of social media and also how to address their concerns.  

Here are suggestions for parents, teachers, and administrators in schools embracing social media.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Year 12 is under way. And it's looking great...

Tomorrow may be the first Monday of my 12th year as a teacher, but last week's four days mark a number of new beginnings. It's year twelve. It's a new school. It's a new district. It's a new town. And I'm more excited than ever.

Monday, September 1, 2014

A new school year, a new adventure

So begins the 2014-2015 school year. And so ends my time as a New York City Department of Education teacher.

I am leaving the friendly confines of the NYCDOE after 11 years. It's been a great run. I've taught in a computer lab the entire time, everything from Kindergarten through 8th grade. We've researched, presented, blogged, tweeted, and most everything in between. The DOE has provided me with invaluable experiences and amazing memories. But, alas, other opportunities and adventures await...

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Hoboken, NJ's failed 1:1

This post originally began as a response to the WNYC article "Why Hoboken is Throwing Away All of its Student Laptops." I posted this response it two different Facebook groups (here & here) discussing the article and thought I should expand some thoughts in this post. Here is my original response...

Monday, August 4, 2014

My Google Gradebook

There are a lot of apps out there for classroom management, seating charts, and grade books. I decided to give a Google spreadsheet s try.

I wrote about the start of my experiment at the beginning of this past school year. I think it went well. Having it as part of my Google Drive (we are a Google Apps school) meant it was always accessible, as well as mobile, I edited the sheet on my iOS app while walking around the room, grading assignments, and so froth.

Here's what I did...

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Update Flash - a NYCDOE centric tutorial

The below tutorial was created with the New York City Department of Education computers and network in mind. That said, however, the idea behind finding a way to easily batch-update Flash on student computers carries over to users and networks beyond the NYCDOE.

So, while the tutorial may be NYCDOE centric, if you are in a Mac environment you can most likely follow the steps to push out Flash updates in your lab setting as well.

Hope this helps folks out...

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

School Technology Summit 2014 presentations - #NYCSTS14

Welcome to my portion of the School Technology Summit 2014, presented by the Division of Instructional & Information Technology of the New York City Department of Education!

This is the second 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 decks. 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.

Enjoy the conference!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"Corporation" doesn't have to be a dirty word

This is a cross-post from Lisa Nielsen on her Innovative Educator blog. She turned one of my Facebook comments on professional development into a blog post. I've re-posted her post here (unedited)...

I have had the pleasure to be involved with creating partnerships between innovative educators and the companies that provide them with resources. This currently includes companies like PBS, Common Sense Media, Google, and, Microsoft, SMART, and Edmodo. 

Unfortunately, for some, when the word corporation comes up, there is immediate distrust. This is a big PR problem that corporations need to take seriously. Fortunately, many corporations are excited about the opportunity to provide support to those who use their products and the teachers are benefiting in many ways.  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Don't blame social media if students are distracted...

Note: This post started as a comment on “Filtering social media in schools because it’s a ‘distraction’” which appeared on Scott McLeod’s Dangerously Irrelevant blog and then first appeared as a guest post on Lisa Nielsen's blog, The Innovative Educator.

Social media is no different than pencil and paper. I doodled a lot in the margins of my physics book. It wasn’t Twitter and Facebook that made me doodle but I doodled nonetheless.
Social media can serve as the new platform for distraction but not a new cause for it. Doodles, passing notes, sleeping in class, all of the “analog” forms of distraction, have just morphed into branded platforms.
The difference? 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Taking Google Apps Data With You...

This post originally appeared on as a tutorial for 5th graders who were graduating and leaving the school but wanted to take their Google Apps data with them.

5th graders,

Over the last few years you have created quite a lot content here at PS 10. Between your classroom and the computer lab you have produced a lot of great work.

In the last year everyone has been using Google Drive to create and store projects.

Here is how you take it all with you:

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

3rd Grade Google Presentations

I am posting this here because I have to admit, I'm a bit proud of it. I introduced students to Google Apps for Education (GAFE) this year, in grades 3-5. It's been a long process, but as the school year approaches the fruits of our labor are starting to show.

With 3rd grade I focused on Documents and Presentations. First basic Document use like writing and formatting, then sharing, commenting, and collaborating. We then moved to Presentations. As 4th graders they will use Presentations in Science and with their classroom teacher (on class Chromebooks) so I wanted to give them a good baseline of how to create a Presentation.

We are now wrapping up the year and beginning to publish. And by publish I mean using the "Publish to the web" feature in Drive and posting it on the computer lab blog. And now this blog too. True digital publishing.

It's been a wild ride this year, getting over 400 students up and running on GAFE, as well as implementing over 100 Chromebooks in those grades. But it's been well worth it.

I will be updating this post as more student finish, but I am very proud of the work my 3rd graders have done so I felt compelled to show it off on this blog too...

Monday, June 9, 2014

PARCC testing? No worries, page wont load...


The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career.

Essentially taking the good ol' Scantron bubble sheets of my youth and putting all standardized testing online. Awesome. Saves paper. Quicker return of data. Fantastic.

It'll never happen.

Or at least not soon.

Here's a quick breakdown of why I think PARCC testing is years and years away...

Fear. The great motivator

Warning: this post contains a wee bit of snark and sarcasm, proceed with caution

Here in New York City we are about to administer a 5th grade "field test" on behalf of the curriculum publisher we use.

This morning I wondered aloud, "what if we don't do it?"

The initial response I got was a blank stare.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - a "must have" Dropbox add-on

Dropbox is amazing.

It is.

Google Drive is great, don't get me wrong. Apple's new announcement, iCloud Drive, seems like it could be killer too. But at this point, Dropbox is the king of cloud storage, in my opinion. It's easy, doesn't care about file formats, simple to share, easy to navigate. It's the market leader for a reason.

My favorite Dropbox add-on is is a 3rd-party, web-based application that links to your Dropbox account.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Marking period disconnects

The "are grades good or are they bad" argument is for a different day. In general I have no problem with giving out grades. At the end of the day its a form of feedback. What I do have a problem with is the schedule with which we give them out.

Here in New York City at the elementary level we have three marking periods. Teachers have to submit them for review prior to Parent Teacher Conferences when the report cards are handed out. Cluster teachers such as myself (Art, Gym, Music, etc) have to submit them to the classroom teachers even earlier...

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Passwords with elementary students

I am an elementary school computer teacher. I see 22 classes a week, grades 2-5. We use a Mac OSX server and Workgroup Manager (WGM) to create unique user accounts for every student. It is a great way to manage the lab, approve and disapprove program access, upgrade systems, and so forth.

A part of this is creating unique user accounts and unique passwords. I often get asked ho wI handle unique passwords with students so young, especially since they aren't logging in every day (I only see each class once a week).

Here is how I handle passwords...

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Creating a tech plan: Four questions...

I often get asked about creating a technology plan or vision for schools. It's a tough question to answer specifically as every school will have different wants and needs in order to best serve their students and overall goals.

What works for me won't necessarily work for you. And that's okay.

In general, however, there are a few key questions that everyone needs to answer when thinking about a technology plan & vision...

Today was a good day. The City gave teachers the floor...

New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) is large. A behemoth, to put it mildly. Over 1,000,000 students, almost 2,000 school sites. Countless related support personal; system engineers, system architects, human resources, payroll, accounting, and on and on and on.

And teachers. Lots and lots of teachers.

And with any large bureaucracy, what usual happens? Usual, decisions get made in an office somewhere, and by the time they reach the teacher in the school the decision seems mindless. Often, the decision makes no sense at a school level.

Today got off to an interesting start.

Monday, May 19, 2014

My trip to #Techlandia

The internet is a really cool thing. And not just the internet. iPads, Chromebooks, Google....

... Ok, so it basically breaks down to two things. Apple and Google make the internet worth internetting (or at least as far as I'm concerned). Which leads me to...


Friday, May 16, 2014

Have I made it sustainable?

This time of year always makes me wax nostalgic. We still have over a month of school, we go until the end of June, but around now is when the year becomes more about wrapping up than it is about starting new things.

I always look back on what we've done in the lab. This year was particularly busy....

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Adobe Voice - a quick #edapp review

Adobe recently released a new app, Adobe Voice.

It's subtitle is "Show your story."

And it's just that simple. Choose your photos. Record your audio story to match. Save. Publish. Share. Very simple, but very elegant and powerful at the same time.

Here is my first attempt at using the app...

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Why tweet in kindergaten? Ask @mariacamastro

Why tweet in kindergarten? Ask Mrs. Camastro, she'll tell you.

Why her?  She hates technology.

She loathes the fact I've put 4 computer in her room and an iPad in her hands. She gives me dirty looks every time she sees me because now I'm trying to get her to lead a Twitter professional development session.

And it's awesome.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Why Blogger with my students?

I use Blogger with my students. I have two classes currently running fully independent blogs. One 3rd grade class and one 5th grade class.

I often get asked why I chose Blogger over some of the other blogging platforms, namely Kidblog, EduBlogs, or even WordPress.

My choice was based on the following thoughts:

Monday, May 5, 2014

Email spam - sniffing out the bad, even from trusted sources

This post is a follow-up, of sorts, to the previous "Twitter spam" and "Phishing" posts. In making the slide deck about Twitter & Phishing spam I realized there were a few different variations of spam in general, especially within emails.

This post deals specifically with email, and more to the point emails you receive from trusted sources that contain questionable material and links.

When a user gets hacked or compromised as a result of a phishing scheme, the people involved will use the users contacts list to send out emails in hopes of getting more users to give up their usernames and passwords...

Friday, May 2, 2014

Phishing: not the hook you're looking for

This post is a follow-up of sorts, to the previous "Twitter spam" post. In making the slide deck about Twitter spam I realized there were a few different variations of spam in general, especially within emails.

This post deals specifically with "phishing"

Another post will address email arriving from trusted sources but smelling particularly spammy due to phishing...

If Twitter has it's moments of Costco-sized spam deliveries than email is the place where Costco shops. 

A lot of email spam originates as "phishing" scams. These are emails designed to get the user to voluntarily offer up their username and password. These emails convince the recipient they need to pride details, or log in, to prevent something bad from happening. Once the user replies or logs in the scammers have their passwords and can use their accounts to send out spam to a users address book...

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Know your Twitter spam

Twitter has it's moments of Costco-sized spam deliveries.

We've all seen it. Or more to the point you got a Direct Message (DM) saying "wow, have you seen this post about you?" with a on-so-not-suspicious link attached. Or the ego enhancing "I've lost weight with this, and you could too!"

When this spam comes through I immediately delete it and let the sender know they most likely have been compromised. It's not always the users fault, though. Recently Pinterest was compromised and was sending out tweets to those users who had connected their Pinterest and Twitter accounts...

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The UFT: Captain Obvious tweets...

I've been staring at this all morning. I'm not sure how I can legitimately do it justice. It's one of those things in life you see, are amazed by (and not that good kind of amazed), feel a ton of questions rise up in your mind, you open your mouth, and then....

Friday, April 18, 2014

Public Education - a tiered subscription model


I think I've solved the teacher pay problem. I think I've found the solution to the teacher respect issue. I think I'll receive a medal for this...

I think public schools should operate on a tiered subscription model.

Here's what I'm thinking:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Heartbleed - what I told my colleagues

Aside from being the computer teacher for my school, I'm also the GAFE administrator and all around tech guy designated to solve any and all problems that arise. With the recent news of the Heartbleed vulnerability I sent out the following email...

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

iPad printing - a workaround (sort of)

One of the big questions I always get asked is "how can I print from my iPad?"

In general my response is "why would you want to?" Snarky? A bit, I admit. But I am a firm believer a core strength of the iPad is in it's ability to eliminate the need for a printer.

But yes, there are times you might need to print from an iPad...

Monday, April 7, 2014

School as collected anthology - the single story is that of many

I've written a lot about how we use social media, Twitter in particular at my school, PS 10 in Brooklyn, NY. We tweet a lot. We love hashtags. We are trying to engage the community and showcase all the awesome things our students, teachers, and parents do to make PS 10 such a great place.

But is it really "we, the school" that is doing it, or are "we, the school" just collecting the stories of others. Creating an anthology?

Publishing block

I have publishing block.

It's a thing.

I think.

I have lots of thoughts rattling around my head. I have 5 posts in Draft, all in various stages of completion (plus two complete, just dragging on final edits and hitting that Publish button).

I am continually impressed by folks like Lisa NielsenPernille Ripp and Jose Vilson. Teachers who have great stuff to say. Say it. And say it eloquently. Frequently.

I need to write more. Nay, I need to hit Publish more.

I need to make a mid-year resolution. Publish more, languish in draft less...

I need to be better about getting my thoughts from my head to text.

I think what I really need to do is...

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A week with an iPad keyboard

Anyone who knows me knows I'm staunchly against the physical keyboard accessories for the iPad. I laugh at the Microsoft Surface ads that tout their keyboard as a reasonn to buy a Surface over an iPad (they always fail to mention their keyboards are $200 additions too, not standard items). It's a tablet. Touch based. I've never understood the urge for a physical keyboard. I have an iMac and MacBook. Those have keyboards. Why does my tablet need one too?


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Things will break. And that's cool.

"Live your life in beta" - Adam Bellow

Live your life in beta. What's beta? The "almost ready for prime-time" stage of software. It's got most features set but promises to be buggy as it adds functionality. It's not perfect but it's being worked on.

As I interpret Adam's quote - Living a life in beta means you're always adding features, tweaking aspects, fine tuning processes. All the while knowing things might go wrong, but bugs will be fixed as found. We as people have no "final release,"no set time when we are a final product never to be altered. Living in beta means we're always developing.

Adam's quote is very apropos as I was in the process of writing this post when he posted his quote to twitter...

Monday, February 17, 2014

My year in numbers

I feel like I'm behind this year. There's a constant feeling of playing catch-up. I'm in my 11th year of teaching and while I don't have all the answers, and I'm constantly trying out new things, I feel like I should have a better handle on everything. I use to be great and knowing every name, first and last, of every student at first glance. This year I find myself pausing more and more to recall names. I'm not as instantly quick as I use to be.

Am I getting older? Am I slipping in some way? Or is it a numbers game and I'm hitting my data limit...?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Why tech equity isn't always equitable...

Everyone should have iPads!

Everyone needs a SmartBoard!

They got a Chromebook, why didn't I get a Chromebook?!

I'm sure we've all heard similar laments from staff, or directives from higher-ups. I understand the desire to make everyone feel included, make everyone feel like they're involved. But is it always the best idea to strive for equity?

Equity isn't always the answer.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

I'm quitting teaching & going into healthcare reform...

Yup. Quitting teaching. Going in to healthcare reform. I mean why not, right? There's all this hullabaloo about Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act or whatever it's called, or, more to the point, mis-called by the masses...

... so I think it's ripe for some real good, grassroots, healthcare reform.

And I'm just the guy to do it.


Friday, February 7, 2014

We tweet @PS10Brooklyn. A lot.

This post was originally written as a resource for parents on how the staff & students use Twitter as part of the instructional day. It originally appeared on the PS10Tech blog

Tweeting @PS10Brooklyn has become a core component of many classrooms. It has been great to see teachers, students, and parents alike embrace the power of Twitter as a communication, collaboration, and connection tool.

For example, @MsKertesz in the 4th grade has used Twitter to connect with a class in Liverpool, England. They do weekly Skype sessions and our 4th graders have developed a great working partnership with their English counterparts. Without Twitter these two classes, separated by an ocean, would never have connected.

Twitter has also gotten PS10 recognition outside of New York City...

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The PalmOS is all I need

No. It's not. While the Palm OS was in many ways ahead of its time, it is currently the furthest thing from what I need.

But as I was looking at a PalmOne Tungsten E2 recently (yes, recently... dug up from a supply closet during an inventory audit) it got me thinking about tech, the evolution of tech, and the frequent resistance of users to adopt new technologies.

But I'm glad it's not just in education...

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Perspective is an interesting thing

In life we tend to get use to seeing things a certain way. We expect things we see to look & act the same, the way we're use too, all the time. Sometimes, however, it is possible to look at things differently. Looking at things differently, from different angles or with a different mindset, is called perspective.

I found this great video that I think demonstrates the importance of perspective.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Screen time - my Grandmother would love this debate

When I was a but a boy I remember my grandmother telling my to stop reading so much. Constantly having my head in a book was bad for my eyes, she said. My parents' rationale for a two hour per week TV allotment was that any more and I'd go blind and rot my brain.

Has anyone gone blind from too much reading or TV watching? Are there documented cases of rotted brains due to too much ESPN or Nickelodeon?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Sunshine'd on #edtech

This post has seen many titles around the interwebs: "Sunshine Awards" or "You've been Sunshined" or "The Blog Homework Meme," but they are essentially all the same thing.

I was looped in to this by Beth Holland of EdTechTeacher. I first "met" Beth over a year ago when I was chosen as a presenter for the EdTechTeacher iPad Summit 2013 in Atlanta. I didn't have the opportunity to actually meet her in person until NYSCATE this year in Rochester. I have long been a fan of both Beth's blogging/tweeting and that of her organization, EdTechTeacher. I was quite humbled when she included me in her "I've been Sunshined" blog post.

So, thank you, Beth, and my apologies for taking so long to get my own post up...