Tag: digital leadership



We have a group at Bolivar High School known as the SWAT team. SWAT stands for Students Working to Advance Technology. The club started in 2015 to support our 1:1 program that was just getting off the ground. 



SWAT provides valuable support related to how we use technology in our school. For instance, they have presented how-to workshops for teachers during our annual PD day, the past two years. And they’ve been involved in parent open house to demonstrate ways technology is being used for learning in our school. They also help out in the library with issues students are having with their Chromebooks.






Most recently, the group offered tech support for senior citizens in our community every Thursday after school in February from 4-5:00pm. We publicized the opportunity in our local newspaper and on Facebook. It was a simple concept. We had some digital natives (our students) on hand to help the older crowd in our community with anything tech related we could help with.



The senior adults could bring their own device (most of them did) or the students used their Chromebooks to help with Facebook, Gmail, or whatever tool they wanted to learn.



We didn’t really know what to expect. It was our first time trying something like this. But it was a huge success. We had customers every single Thursday, and several of our guests came back week after week.








This activity was beneficial on several levels. 



1. It was helpful to the senior citizens we served.



Our students helped with Macs, PCs, iPads, Android devices, multiple smart phones, and a Kindle Fire. I don’t think there was a single question that our students didn’t handle effectively. In one case, it took about 45 minutes to research a solution, but in the end, they resolved the issue.



2. It was a fantastic opportunity to connect with our community.



I think it’s great when students can go out into the community or we can bring the community in. In this case, we had quite a few people into our school building that might not normally stop by for a visit. 



3. It was a great learning experience for our students.



Our students had the opportunity to give back and lend a helping hand. They got to practice communication skills, empathy, patience, and problem solving. It gave them the opportunity to serve others.



4. Everyone seemed to love it. 



Our students enjoyed this experience so much, they asked me if we could keep doing it each week. For a variety of reasons, I made them take a break for the month of March. We’ll see after that. But I was proud they wanted to continue. And the senior citizens seemed to have a great time too. Some of them asked me if we could keep doing it, too! Okay, after reading that I feel like a scrooge for making them take a break. 🙂



Here’s a 2 minute video that includes some student voice about how they experienced this project…




Question: Is this something you might try with your students? What questions do you have about this activity? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More What Happened When We Launched Student-Led Senior Citizen Tech Support





When we were planning for 1:1 at Bolivar High School, we had numerous community meetings and invited feedback and questions from our stakeholders. One of the questions that was raised went something like this, “How can you be sure student achievement will increase as a result of every kid having a device?”



And that’s a very good question, at least on the surface. It would seem reasonable that if a school is going to spend thousands of dollars on devices, there should be a direct correlation, even causation, in the research to demonstrate a positive effect on measurable learning outcomes. 



That question comes up again from time to time. Our middle school is now also working toward implementing their own version of 1:1.



The research on the impact of 1:1 programs is mixed. Some studies point to flat achievement or even declining achievement, especially with low-income and minority students. Other studies, like Project Red for instance, have found that schools implementing a 1:1 student-computer ratio along with key implementation factors outperform other schools.



But I’m a bit skeptical of studies on either side of this issue. It is very difficult to isolate any single factor or group of factors to show direct impact on measurable student achievement outcomes. There are so many moving parts in what students learn and to what extent they learn it.



I do believe that technology implemented properly CAN have a positive impact on student achievement. But I would also argue that there are many, many reasons to go digital in schools besides student achievement. And I mean student achievement in the narrowest sense. Everything we do is related to student achievement in my view, but researchers and bureaucrats usually examine this factor through a narrow lens of standardized test results.



Since I believe so strongly in the benefits of technology for students, I asked my PLN for feedback on what they believe are the most important reasons to go digital beyond strictly academic outcomes. I summarize the ideas below, and you can also check out their responses in the Twitter Moment embedded below.



15 Reasons #EdTech is Valuable Beyond Student Achievement



1. Essential to learning in a modern world.



Technology is just as essential to learning in today’s world as the school library. To be an effective learner in today’s world means you’re going to be using digital tools to learn.



2. Encourages lifelong learning.



Our school’s motto is Learning for Life. We believe in the importance of developing skills that will translate to life. If we want our students to be lifelong learners, they need to understand the role of technology in that.



3. Connects students and schools with the outside world.



These tweets from Ellen Deem and Kevin Foley summarize it nicely. Technology allows us to bring the world into our school, and take our school into the world.

@deem_ellen @DavidGeurin Technology has taken the world into my small school.It has also brought my small school to the world @TheSTEAMakers

— Kevin Foley (@FoleyKev) February 25, 2017



4. Reflects how work gets done outside of schools.



Almost every career, project, or activity will involve technology in some way. Having stronger skills related to technology brings value to most every area of life.



5. Allows for practicing digital citizenship.



How can we expect students to make good decisions and develop into responsible digital creators and consumers if we don’t give opportunities for practice in school?



6. Important for teaching digital literacy.



Students need to understand digital literacy as part of overall information literacy. It’s not enough to be able to read and write. You need to know how the digitally connected world works.



7. Important for practicing the 4 C’s.



If we are serious about teaching communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking, technology is a great vehicle to explore those skills.



8. Kids like it.



I love this response from Melinda Miller. If we are serious about kids becoming independent learners, then learning needs to be exciting and fun.

@DavidGeurin kids like it!

— Melinda Miller (@mmiller7571) February 25, 2017

9. Improves communication.



We gain opportunities to communicate and connect within and outside our school through the use of email, social media, shared documents, etc. 



10. Improves student engagement



Technology can play an important role in increasing student engagement and creating more student-centered learning opportunities.



11. Provides an authentic audience for student work outside the school.



Student work shouldn’t be destined to finish in a trash can. It can be saved forever and shared with the world using digital tools.



12. Allows new ways to differentiate learning.



Technology is great for meeting individual learning needs. 



13. It can personalize learning.



Technology can create opportunities for students to pursue passions, make choices, and have their voice heard.



14. It creates efficiency.



With technology, we can use less paper, save time, and overcome the limitations of when and where we learn.



15. It supports curiosity.

Students have questions. A connected device provides the means to search for answers. Someone made the comment that tech has made us less curious. I don’t necessarily think that’s true.



Question: What are your thoughts on ways #EdTech impacts learning beyond student achievement? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. 



Also, be sure to check out all the tweets from my PLN in response to this topic. Thanks everyone for contributing!

Beyond Student Achievement

Read More 15 Reasons #EdTech Is Valuable Beyond Student Achievement





When we were planning for 1:1 at Bolivar High School, we had numerous community meetings and invited feedback and questions from our stakeholders. One of the questions that was raised went something like this, “How can you be sure student achievement will increase as a result of every kid having a device?”



And that’s a very good question, at least on the surface. It would seem reasonable that if a school is going to spend thousands of dollars on devices, there should be a direct correlation, even causation, in the research to demonstrate a positive effect on measurable learning outcomes. 



That question comes up again from time to time. Our middle school is now also working toward implementing their own version of 1:1.



The research on the impact of 1:1 programs is mixed. Some studies point to flat achievement or even declining achievement, especially with low-income and minority students. Other studies, like Project Red for instance, have found that schools implementing a 1:1 student-computer ratio along with key implementation factors outperform other schools.



But I’m a bit skeptical of studies on either side of this issue. It is very difficult to isolate any single factor or group of factors to show direct impact on measurable student achievement outcomes. There are so many moving parts in what students learn and to what extent they learn it.



I do believe that technology implemented properly CAN have a positive impact on student achievement. But I would also argue that there are many, many reasons to go digital in schools besides student achievement. And I mean student achievement in the narrowest sense. Everything we do is related to student achievement in my view, but researchers and bureaucrats usually examine this factor through a narrow lens of standardized test results.



Since I believe so strongly in the benefits of technology for students, I asked my PLN for feedback on what they believe are the most important reasons to go digital beyond strictly academic outcomes. I summarize the ideas below, and you can also check out their responses in the Twitter Moment embedded below.



15 Reasons #EdTech is Valuable Beyond Student Achievement



1. Essential to learning in a modern world.



Technology is just as essential to learning in today’s world as the school library. To be an effective learner in today’s world means you’re going to be using digital tools to learn.



2. Encourages lifelong learning.



Our school’s motto is Learning for Life. We believe in the importance of developing skills that will translate to life. If we want our students to be lifelong learners, they need to understand the role of technology in that.



3. Connects students and schools with the outside world.



These tweets from Ellen Deem and Kevin Foley summarize it nicely. Technology allows us to bring the world into our school, and take our school into the world.

@deem_ellen @DavidGeurin Technology has taken the world into my small school.It has also brought my small school to the world @TheSTEAMakers

— Kevin Foley (@FoleyKev) February 25, 2017



4. Reflects how work gets done outside of schools.



Almost every career, project, or activity will involve technology in some way. Having stronger skills related to technology brings value to most every area of life.



5. Allows for practicing digital citizenship.



How can we expect students to make good decisions and develop into responsible digital creators and consumers if we don’t give opportunities for practice in school?



6. Important for teaching digital literacy.



Students need to understand digital literacy as part of overall information literacy. It’s not enough to be able to read and write. You need to know how the digitally connected world works.



7. Important for practicing the 4 C’s.



If we are serious about teaching communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking, technology is a great vehicle to explore those skills.



8. Kids like it.



I love this response from Melinda Miller. If we are serious about kids becoming independent learners, then learning needs to be exciting and fun.

@DavidGeurin kids like it!

— Melinda Miller (@mmiller7571) February 25, 2017

9. Improves communication.



We gain opportunities to communicate and connect within and outside our school through the use of email, social media, shared documents, etc. 



10. Improves student engagement



Technology can play an important role in increasing student engagement and creating more student-centered learning opportunities.



11. Provides an authentic audience for student work outside the school.



Student work shouldn’t be destined to finish in a trash can. It can be saved forever and shared with the world using digital tools.



12. Allows new ways to differentiate learning.



Technology is great for meeting individual learning needs. 



13. It can personalize learning.



Technology can create opportunities for students to pursue passions, make choices, and have their voice heard.



14. It creates efficiency.



With technology, we can use less paper, save time, and overcome the limitations of when and where we learn.



15. It supports curiosity.

Students have questions. A connected device provides the means to search for answers. Someone made the comment that tech has made us less curious. I don’t necessarily think that’s true.



Question: What are your thoughts on ways #EdTech impacts learning beyond student achievement? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. 



Also, be sure to check out all the tweets from my PLN in response to this topic. Thanks everyone for contributing!

Beyond Student Achievement

Read More 15 Reasons #EdTech Is Valuable Beyond Student Achievement





I use my iPhone to do most of my connecting through social media. I guess that trend is common since mobile device use is up while use of laptops/desktops is down worldwide. This chart illustrates how that trend is expected to continue.




Retrieved: http://digiday.com/media/mobile-overtaking-desktops-around-world-5-charts/





Social media has been transformational in my work as an educator. The connections I’ve made and the ideas I’ve encountered have pushed me to grow and learn in ways I never could’ve imagined.



But I also don’t want social media to take over my life. I work very hard to maximize my productivity and get the most out of my online work without compromising other important areas of my life.



These are 11 apps I’ve used that I’ve found most beneficial to managing my social media life. They aren’t in any particular order, and they serve a variety of purposes.



1. Twitter-I use the Twitter app to read tweets and post to multiple accounts (school and personal/professional). I sometimes even participate in Twitter chats using my iPhone. 



2. Buffer-This app is fantastic for scheduling tweets and managing multiple social media accounts. I like to read and share relevant content to my followers. I’ve found Buffer is the best way to do this. One of the things I like about it is the ability to follow RSS feeds within the app. It brings some of my favorite content right into the app so I can review and share.



3. Facebook Pages-I help manage content for our high school page, and I also have a Facebook fan page for my blog. I can take care of both accounts through this app’s interface. It works great!



4. Nuzzel-I use Nuzzel to read the hottest stories from my Twitter feed. Basically, it ranks articles that have been shared the most by my friends. I always find content here I want to share with others. It also works with Facebook. You just have to connect your accounts to the app.



5. Evernote-Anything I don’t want to forget goes in Evernote. It’s a great app for taking notes and staying organized. I keep a list of possible blog topics here also so I always have something to think and write about.



6. Juice-This app is another way I get content to read and share. It analyzes my Twitter and then generates new articles to read every 24 hours. I don’t think very many people know about this one, but I really like it.



7. Flipboard-I use Flipboard semi-regularly, but it often frustrates me. It’s supposed to aggregate relevant links and stories based on my interests. It’s algorithm is supposed to learn my preferences and habits. The problem is I don’t find helpful content there as often as I’d like. Am I doing something wrong? 



8. Vanillapen-This app is great for making quick and easy quote images. I like to share inspiring images or quotes and this makes it a breeze.



9. Pexels-You might share this app with your students too. It’s a great online platform for finding Creative Commons licensed photos to use in projects and presentations. You don’t want to violate copyright laws by choosing any photo from a Google search. The photos on this site are free and there are new pics added daily. 



10. Canva-I use Canva to create images for blog posts or to share on social media. Some of the graphics and images are fee based, but I use it often and rarely pay for anything.



11. TweetDeck-This tool is my favorite way to participate in Twitter chats. The simple column view allows users to monitor multiple accounts or hashtags all at once. For a chat, I typically have a column for the hashtag and one for my notifications so I know when someone has mentioned or tweeted at me.



I always enjoying new apps and have really benefited from the ones I’ve shared in this post. Having the right app is like finding the right tool in my shop. It makes every project turn out better!



Question: What are your favorite apps right now? I’m curious what works well for you. You can leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 11 Apps That Help Me Manage My Social Media Life





I use my iPhone to do most of my connecting through social media. I guess that trend is common since mobile device use is up while use of laptops/desktops is down worldwide. This chart illustrates how that trend is expected to continue.




Retrieved: http://digiday.com/media/mobile-overtaking-desktops-around-world-5-charts/





Social media has been transformational in my work as an educator. The connections I’ve made and the ideas I’ve encountered have pushed me to grow and learn in ways I never could’ve imagined.



But I also don’t want social media to take over my life. I work very hard to maximize my productivity and get the most out of my online work without compromising other important areas of my life.



These are 11 apps I’ve used that I’ve found most beneficial to managing my social media life. They aren’t in any particular order, and they serve a variety of purposes.



1. Twitter-I use the Twitter app to read tweets and post to multiple accounts (school and personal/professional). I sometimes even participate in Twitter chats using my iPhone. 



2. Buffer-This app is fantastic for scheduling tweets and managing multiple social media accounts. I like to read and share relevant content to my followers. I’ve found Buffer is the best way to do this. One of the things I like about it is the ability to follow RSS feeds within the app. It brings some of my favorite content right into the app so I can review and share.



3. Facebook Pages-I help manage content for our high school page, and I also have a Facebook fan page for my blog. I can take care of both accounts through this app’s interface. It works great!



4. Nuzzel-I use Nuzzel to read the hottest stories from my Twitter feed. Basically, it ranks articles that have been shared the most by my friends. I always find content here I want to share with others. It also works with Facebook. You just have to connect your accounts to the app.



5. Evernote-Anything I don’t want to forget goes in Evernote. It’s a great app for taking notes and staying organized. I keep a list of possible blog topics here also so I always have something to think and write about.



6. Juice-This app is another way I get content to read and share. It analyzes my Twitter and then generates new articles to read every 24 hours. I don’t think very many people know about this one, but I really like it.



7. Flipboard-I use Flipboard semi-regularly, but it often frustrates me. It’s supposed to aggregate relevant links and stories based on my interests. It’s algorithm is supposed to learn my preferences and habits. The problem is I don’t find helpful content there as often as I’d like. Am I doing something wrong? 



8. Vanillapen-This app is great for making quick and easy quote images. I like to share inspiring images or quotes and this makes it a breeze.



9. Pexels-You might share this app with your students too. It’s a great online platform for finding Creative Commons licensed photos to use in projects and presentations. You don’t want to violate copyright laws by choosing any photo from a Google search. The photos on this site are free and there are new pics added daily. 



10. Canva-I use Canva to create images for blog posts or to share on social media. Some of the graphics and images are fee based, but I use it often and rarely pay for anything.



11. TweetDeck-This tool is my favorite way to participate in Twitter chats. The simple column view allows users to monitor multiple accounts or hashtags all at once. For a chat, I typically have a column for the hashtag and one for my notifications so I know when someone has mentioned or tweeted at me.



I always enjoying new apps and have really benefited from the ones I’ve shared in this post. Having the right app is like finding the right tool in my shop. It makes every project turn out better!



Question: What are your favorite apps right now? I’m curious what works well for you. You can leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 11 Apps That Help Me Manage My Social Media Life

In 2015, I wrote the following article entitled, “3 Things Students Should Have Before They Leave High School“. Here are the “3 Things” that I suggested: As I was speaking at a school in North Broward Preparatory School in Coconut Creek, Florida, and was talking about this, one of the teachers, Jason Shaffer, said, “We … [Read more…]

Read More Helping Students Develop Their Online Identity

Technology is playing a bigger role in classrooms and schools in this country and around the world. Here are a few thoughts to keep technology in perspective. Share them with your team and discuss how to best implement technology in your learning culture. I hope these ideas help guide you to more effective use of digital tools with your students. 

1. Your learning goals should drive your tech goals, and not the other way around.



Just because you have access to iPads, Chromebooks, or some other device in your classroom doesn’t mean they must be the center of learning in your classroom. Not every lesson can be made better with technology. Allow your goals for learning to lead you to the most powerful ways for tech to further support those learning goals. Keep your students at the center of learning, not a device.








2. It’s not enough to think tech is important for students. You must be willing to learn it yourself.



To deny that tech will be important to students’ futures seems unthinkable. But it’s not enough to recognize students will need tech to be successful. Your students also need to see you as a willing learner of technology. They need to see you as a learner period. And it’s a shame if you aren’t leveraging your skills as a teacher because you aren’t willing to learn technology. All of your teacher skills are priceless, but they can be even more relevant and powerful if you know how to effectively use technology for learning, too.



3. Tech can make kids want to learn more, but more importantly, it creates opportunities for more learning.



Lots of kids like to use technology. But using tech because it is engaging isn’t as important as using it because your students are engaged. If your students are curious and motivated learners, they will have questions that need answers. They will want to create and share new knowledge. You know your students. You inspire them as learners and that relationship will ultimately lead to more learning. Technology can then create unlimited opportunities to create, learn, and share.








4. Being an effective learner in the modern world also means you are an effective digital learner.



Readers of my blog know I believe adaptable learners will own the future. The ability to learn, to be creative, to see possibilities, to make something new, will be a huge advantage for future success. But in today’s hyper-connected, digital world, being an effective learner also means you are effective in using digital tools for learning, solving problems, and creating knowledge. 



5. If you change the technology but don’t change your lesson, nothing really changes.



Adding technology to the same old lessons doesn’t automatically make them better lessons. Work to create a better lesson first—one that is meaningful and authentic and causes deeper thinking and greater understandingthen consider how technology can make it even better. Technology won’t improve learning if that worksheet is now in digital format. It won’t inspire learning if students are just looking up answers online instead of in the textbook. Your lesson design is always more important than your digital tool.








6. For students who don’t know how to use social media appropriately and effectively, who knows what opportunities they might miss?



If you want to be successful, do what successful people do. And some of the most successful people in our world are using social media and blogging as a platform to network, share their message, and improve their work. How many kids have the chance to practice these skills in school? As digital footprints replace traditional resumes, will your students have anything to show for their work? Even worse, will their digital record disqualify them to employers?



7. Google doesn’t have answers; it has information.



Learning and inquiry involves more than searching for right answers. Students make meaning of information through good thinking. The most interesting questions don’t have one right answer and require students to think in ways that lead to understanding. Access to a web-connected device is a powerful tool for learning. It creates agency, empowers learning, and puts students in the driver’s seat, but only if we allow it, support it, and facilitate it.








8. Tech should make us more human, not less.



It’s not hard to see ways technology is both a blessing and a burden. So we need to be thoughtful about how we use technology for good and limit the negatives. We’ve heard a lot about how social skills are deteriorating as a result of attachment to mobile tech and addiction to device notifications and so forth. But technology can help us connect, do more good, and be more human, not less. In the classroom, technology should lead to more conversations, not less. Students are going to use technology. We need to help them use it in ways that are healthy and productive.



9. Anyone who wants to be a leader needs to be a digital leader too.



We are past the days where leaders could just count on the tech department or that one teacher to take the lead on technology. Every person who aspires to lead should expect to be a digital leader too. Leaders don’t have to have better digital skills than anyone else, but they do need to model the use of technology and constantly be willing to learn. Working to stay informed, learning new tools, and being future-driven are critical to digital leadership. And every leader should strive to be a digital leader too.



Question: What essential #EdTech idea would you add to this list? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 9 Essential #EdTech Ideas to Share With Your Team

Technology is playing a bigger role in classrooms and schools in this country and around the world. Here are a few thoughts to keep technology in perspective. Share them with your team and discuss how to best implement technology in your learning culture. I hope these ideas help guide you to more effective use of digital tools with your students. 

1. Your learning goals should drive your tech goals, and not the other way around.



Just because you have access to iPads, Chromebooks, or some other device in your classroom doesn’t mean they must be the center of learning in your classroom. Not every lesson can be made better with technology. Allow your goals for learning to lead you to the most powerful ways for tech to further support those learning goals. Keep your students at the center of learning, not a device.








2. It’s not enough to think tech is important for students. You must be willing to learn it yourself.



To deny that tech will be important to students’ futures seems unthinkable. But it’s not enough to recognize students will need tech to be successful. Your students also need to see you as a willing learner of technology. They need to see you as a learner period. And it’s a shame if you aren’t leveraging your skills as a teacher because you aren’t willing to learn technology. All of your teacher skills are priceless, but they can be even more relevant and powerful if you know how to effectively use technology for learning, too.



3. Tech can make kids want to learn more, but more importantly, it creates opportunities for more learning.



Lots of kids like to use technology. But using tech because it is engaging isn’t as important as using it because your students are engaged. If your students are curious and motivated learners, they will have questions that need answers. They will want to create and share new knowledge. You know your students. You inspire them as learners and that relationship will ultimately lead to more learning. Technology can then create unlimited opportunities to create, learn, and share.








4. Being an effective learner in the modern world also means you are an effective digital learner.



Readers of my blog know I believe adaptable learners will own the future. The ability to learn, to be creative, to see possibilities, to make something new, will be a huge advantage for future success. But in today’s hyper-connected, digital world, being an effective learner also means you are effective in using digital tools for learning, solving problems, and creating knowledge. 



5. If you change the technology but don’t change your lesson, nothing really changes.



Adding technology to the same old lessons doesn’t automatically make them better lessons. Work to create a better lesson first—one that is meaningful and authentic and causes deeper thinking and greater understandingthen consider how technology can make it even better. Technology won’t improve learning if that worksheet is now in digital format. It won’t inspire learning if students are just looking up answers online instead of in the textbook. Your lesson design is always more important than your digital tool.








6. For students who don’t know how to use social media appropriately and effectively, who knows what opportunities they might miss?



If you want to be successful, do what successful people do. And some of the most successful people in our world are using social media and blogging as a platform to network, share their message, and improve their work. How many kids have the chance to practice these skills in school? As digital footprints replace traditional resumes, will your students have anything to show for their work? Even worse, will their digital record disqualify them to employers?



7. Google doesn’t have answers; it has information.



Learning and inquiry involves more than searching for right answers. Students make meaning of information through good thinking. The most interesting questions don’t have one right answer and require students to think in ways that lead to understanding. Access to a web-connected device is a powerful tool for learning. It creates agency, empowers learning, and puts students in the driver’s seat, but only if we allow it, support it, and facilitate it.








8. Tech should make us more human, not less.



It’s not hard to see ways technology is both a blessing and a burden. So we need to be thoughtful about how we use technology for good and limit the negatives. We’ve heard a lot about how social skills are deteriorating as a result of attachment to mobile tech and addiction to device notifications and so forth. But technology can help us connect, do more good, and be more human, not less. In the classroom, technology should lead to more conversations, not less. Students are going to use technology. We need to help them use it in ways that are healthy and productive.



9. Anyone who wants to be a leader needs to be a digital leader too.



We are past the days where leaders could just count on the tech department or that one teacher to take the lead on technology. Every person who aspires to lead should expect to be a digital leader too. Leaders don’t have to have better digital skills than anyone else, but they do need to model the use of technology and constantly be willing to learn. Working to stay informed, learning new tools, and being future-driven are critical to digital leadership. And every leader should strive to be a digital leader too.



Question: What essential #EdTech idea would you add to this list? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 9 Essential #EdTech Ideas to Share With Your Team

I often get the opportunity to work with students and speak to them in large gatherings, which can be tough.  Some of the educators that I speak to might know me from my book, blog, or Twitter, but it is rare that students have any clue who I am.  Online connections help to build rapport … [Read more…]

Read More On the Other Side of the Screen





Dear Defender of the Status Quo,



The status quo does not need your help.



It is a powerful force on its own. It has inertia on its side. And fear. And control. 



You feel safer with what’s familiar, but you’re not. 



In the end, failure to change makes you antique, obsolescent, irrelevant, and eventually extinct.



You can see that the world is changing around you. Fast. Really fast. The evidence is everywhere. But what are you doing about it?



The status quo won’t prepare students for the challenges they will face. 



Change is inevitable, and you are needed as a change-maker.



Is your teaching today much different from how you were taught? Are your lessons preparing students for yesterday or tomorrow? 



Desks are lined in straight rows. Students listen for instructions, complete assignments, take tests. How is the experience unique to the world today and not the world of 50 years ago?



You are more than a curriculum implementer. You are a positive change maker. You work with the most valuable resource in the worldchildren.



You matter.



A lot has been pushed on you I know. Your work has been devalued, disrespected, and run down.



Your work is more than a test score.



But it won’t help to circle the wagons and just hang on to the old. 



It’s tempting to become cynical. To resent the bureaucrats or pundits who want to change you from the outside. Who want to create a marketplace for a child’s education.



Keep the focus on your students.



Keep an eye on tomorrow.



Don’t let your school become a time capsule.



Be a champion for change. Don’t wait for it to happen to you. Drive the change from your platform. You have a voice. 



You are a leader.



People want to know what you stand for, not just what you stand against. I want to know.



Share your story.



Inspire.



You can let the challenges cause you to clinch your fists and hang on to what you know, or you can reach for something new and be the one who creates a better tomorrow for public schools, and ultimately for kids.



Dream.



If technology isn’t your strength, that’s okay. But how are you growing? How are you becoming a stronger digital learner?





Grow.



You lead by example. Your example is your greatest opportunity for influence. Your students are watching.



Don’t allow change to be something done to you. Be empowered.



Your work can’t be replaced by a machine, but only if you connect and relate and stay relevant. You may be a kid’s best chance. You can be a game-changer.



Spread hope.



Remember to always teach kids first, and then curriculum. Teach them how to think. How to work the problem. How to adapt to whatever they might face.



Create excitement around learning. Make it count for something besides a grade or a diploma or a test score.



The status quo is a taker. It takes your passion, your zest, your difference. It tries to make you like everyone else.



Stand out.



You are not an interchangeable part and neither are your students. Make your classroom more artwork and less assembly line.



And please, please don’t be a defender of the status quo…



We’ve always done it this way just won’t cut it anymore.

Read More Dear Defender of the Status Quo…





Dear Defender of the Status Quo,



The status quo does not need your help.



It is a powerful force on its own. It has inertia on its side. And fear. And control. 



You feel safer with what’s familiar, but you’re not. 



In the end, failure to change makes you antique, obsolescent, irrelevant, and eventually extinct.



You can see that the world is changing around you. Fast. Really fast. The evidence is everywhere. But what are you doing about it?



The status quo won’t prepare students for the challenges they will face. 



Change is inevitable, and you are needed as a change-maker.



Is your teaching today much different from how you were taught? Are your lessons preparing students for yesterday or tomorrow? 



Desks are lined in straight rows. Students listen for instructions, complete assignments, take tests. How is the experience unique to the world today and not the world of 50 years ago?



You are more than a curriculum implementer. You are a positive change maker. You work with the most valuable resource in the worldchildren.



You matter.



A lot has been pushed on you I know. Your work has been devalued, disrespected, and run down.



Your work is more than a test score.



But it won’t help to circle the wagons and just hang on to the old. 



It’s tempting to become cynical. To resent the bureaucrats or pundits who want to change you from the outside. Who want to create a marketplace for a child’s education.



Keep the focus on your students.



Keep an eye on tomorrow.



Don’t let your school become a time capsule.



Be a champion for change. Don’t wait for it to happen to you. Drive the change from your platform. You have a voice. 



You are a leader.



People want to know what you stand for, not just what you stand against. I want to know.



Share your story.



Inspire.



You can let the challenges cause you to clinch your fists and hang on to what you know, or you can reach for something new and be the one who creates a better tomorrow for public schools, and ultimately for kids.



Dream.



If technology isn’t your strength, that’s okay. But how are you growing? How are you becoming a stronger digital learner?





Grow.



You lead by example. Your example is your greatest opportunity for influence. Your students are watching.



Don’t allow change to be something done to you. Be empowered.



Your work can’t be replaced by a machine, but only if you connect and relate and stay relevant. You may be a kid’s best chance. You can be a game-changer.



Spread hope.



Remember to always teach kids first, and then curriculum. Teach them how to think. How to work the problem. How to adapt to whatever they might face.



Create excitement around learning. Make it count for something besides a grade or a diploma or a test score.



The status quo is a taker. It takes your passion, your zest, your difference. It tries to make you like everyone else.



Stand out.



You are not an interchangeable part and neither are your students. Make your classroom more artwork and less assembly line.



And please, please don’t be a defender of the status quo…



We’ve always done it this way just won’t cut it anymore.

Read More Dear Defender of the Status Quo…






This themed activity would have been the perfect professional learning event to implement during the recent Olympic games. We actually did it just a couple of weeks ago with a group of our teachers. If you find it useful, you could use it now or wait until 2020 when the next summer Olympics will happen in Tokyo. 



The Digital Decathlon is a self-directed learning activity to help teachers sharpen their tech skills. We built this thing from scratch and think you could probably make it even better. Feel free to use what we’ve created or adapt it to fit your needs.


Several teachers in our building contributed to the final product. I will give them a personal “shout out” a little later in the post.


Here are the basic rules:
-Work in pairs or small groups to accomplish the tasks.
-Choose 10 ‘events’ to complete the Decathlon. We had 15 challenges to choose from.
-Create a visual representation of each challenge to include in a Google Slides presentation. Since we pushed this out as an assignment on Google Classroom, every teacher automatically had a copy of the Slides presentation to work with.
We allowed a couple of hours to complete the activities, and we had a couple of our most tech savvy teachers on hand to provide support as it was needed. 


We felt this was a better way to learn than simply having someone do a step-by-step training on a particular topic. There are more choices in this approach, so it has the potential to meet more needs. And it relies on an inquiry-based approach. Learners have to point and click and figure some things out on their own. 


It’s been my experience that people who learn tech most effectively are willing to take risks and just try different things to solve problems and figure out the tool. This activity encourages this type of learning.


If you decide to do something like this with your team, it’s a good idea to spend some time on the front end explaining the process and maybe even modeling one of the tasks. At the end, have a time of sharing and reflecting on what was learned.


Thanks to Gina Green (@BHSBizDept), Ashley Clift (@MRS_CLIFT), Tania Driskill (@TaniaDriskill), and Ashley DeVore (@AshleyDeVoreFCS) for contributing to the tech challenges included in the Digital Decathlon. These teachers are some of our tech mavens at Bolivar High School.


Question: What ideas do you have for creating your own Digital Decathlon? How could this be even better? I want to hear from you. Share a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Technology PD with the Digital Decathlon






This themed activity would have been the perfect professional learning event to implement during the recent Olympic games. We actually did it just a couple of weeks ago with a group of our teachers. If you find it useful, you could use it now or wait until 2020 when the next summer Olympics will happen in Tokyo. 



The Digital Decathlon is a self-directed learning activity to help teachers sharpen their tech skills. We built this thing from scratch and think you could probably make it even better. Feel free to use what we’ve created or adapt it to fit your needs.


Several teachers in our building contributed to the final product. I will give them a personal “shout out” a little later in the post.


Here are the basic rules:
-Work in pairs or small groups to accomplish the tasks.
-Choose 10 ‘events’ to complete the Decathlon. We had 15 challenges to choose from.
-Create a visual representation of each challenge to include in a Google Slides presentation. Since we pushed this out as an assignment on Google Classroom, every teacher automatically had a copy of the Slides presentation to work with.
We allowed a couple of hours to complete the activities, and we had a couple of our most tech savvy teachers on hand to provide support as it was needed. 


We felt this was a better way to learn than simply having someone do a step-by-step training on a particular topic. There are more choices in this approach, so it has the potential to meet more needs. And it relies on an inquiry-based approach. Learners have to point and click and figure some things out on their own. 


It’s been my experience that people who learn tech most effectively are willing to take risks and just try different things to solve problems and figure out the tool. This activity encourages this type of learning.


If you decide to do something like this with your team, it’s a good idea to spend some time on the front end explaining the process and maybe even modeling one of the tasks. At the end, have a time of sharing and reflecting on what was learned.


Thanks to Gina Green (@BHSBizDept), Ashley Clift (@MRS_CLIFT), Tania Driskill (@TaniaDriskill), and Ashley DeVore (@AshleyDeVoreFCS) for contributing to the tech challenges included in the Digital Decathlon. These teachers are some of our tech mavens at Bolivar High School.


Question: What ideas do you have for creating your own Digital Decathlon? How could this be even better? I want to hear from you. Share a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Technology PD with the Digital Decathlon





Developing a shared vision for technology in your school should include lots of conversations. These conversations should occur among teachers, students, parents, and other stakeholders. It’s important to think through the pros and cons of technology use and how technology can play an valuable role in learning.


Sometimes I think people hold ideas about technology that only consider one side of the issue. Forward thinking educators and parents want to race ahead with technology implementation without considering some of the drawbacks.


On the other hand, status quo defenders quickly point out the drawbacks of technology use in the classroom without considering how important technology will be to student success in a rapidly changing world. 


To bridge the divide, we need to have more honest conversations and seek to understand the various issues. Whichever way we lean, we need to consider various perspectives and use good thinking to arrive at common ground.


Here are 5 conversations to have about education technology in your classroom or school.


1. Why is technology use important?


Even if you don’t really like the prominent role of technology in our society, it is indisputable that more and more opportunities are tied to the effective use of technology for learning and productivity. In our modern world, digital technology is how stuff gets done. And clearly the internet is not going away. And mobile technology is not just a fad. 


So if we are going to truly prepare students for their future, we must include technology as an essential part of the learning process. Technology needs to be implemented in authentic ways that reflect the way it is used by people across a wide variety of professions. 


We should also invite students to use their imaginations to consider how technology might be used in the future. Opportunities for innovation abound. The ability to adapt and create might allow students to ‘create’ a job for themselves even when the traditional way of ‘finding’ a job might prove more difficult. All the rules are changing.
2. What are things technology won’t do for your classroom or school?


Technology should not be viewed as something that will automatically result in better learning for students. In fact, technology can actually hurt learning if it is not implemented properly. It’s important to start with a strong learning culture and a teacher who inspires and guides learning. Effective technology use requires effective leadership.


So let’s talk openly about the limitations of technology. 
  • Adding technology won’t make a poor lesson suddenly great.
  • It won’t fix a learning culture that is sluggish or disengaged.
  • It won’t necessarily result in higher standardized test scores.
  • Technology isn’t appropriate for every learning task.
  • Technology can be a distraction. 
  • It can also bring new concerns for student wellness and safety.


Adding technology to lessons doesn’t make them great lessons. #edchat #edtech #sunchat pic.twitter.com/iKWUYTfOGr

— David Geurin (@DavidGeurin) September 25, 2016



3. How can we overcome challenges that come with technology use?

Too many educators focus on the drawbacks or challenges to technology use and never even consider how these obstacles can be overcome. There are significant challenges when using technology for learning. However, there are plenty of schools that are doing a great job of addressing and overcoming every one of the challenges. But it takes a concerted effort to address these concerns.
  • Educators must model safe and appropriate use of technology.
  • Schools must teach digital citizenship and activate students as digital leaders.
  • Schools must support professional learning for teachers on technology use.
  • Effective pedagogy must be prioritized over using technology for the sake of technology.
  • Schools must develop strong relationships with students, parents, etc. so that there is a cooperative effort to make technology work for learning. 
4. What are the most valuable ways we can use technology for learning?


Not all uses of technology are created equal. Some ways of using technology are more valuable than others. We need to use technology in ways that are high leverage for learning. 


When used effectively, technology can be powerful. In fact, it can transform learning. In an earlier post I listed 7 Ways Technology Transforms Learning. Most importantly, technology can empower learning. It can give learners greater voice, more opportunities, and provide the platform to create new knowledge in a very personal and customized way.


Some ways of using technology are not as effective for learning. They don’t result in greater student agency, deeper thinking, or more opportunities to connect with others.
  • Drill and kill on a device is still low leverage.
  • Activities that are simply “busy work” are still mindless even on a device.
  • Test prep programs are not my idea of authentic technology use.
  • Worksheets are not more engaging just because they are pushed out on a device.
Effective learning with technology should involve students in making decisions about their learning. There should be opportunities for students to make learning choices about time, place, path, or pace. 


5. How are you growing in your use of technology as an educator?


One of the most important parts of successful use of technology in schools is that educators are growing in their use of technology, too. It’s critical for leaders to model learning with digital tools. In fact, anyone who wants to be a leader needs to be a digital leader, too. It’s not something reserved for the technology department or techie teachers only. Everyone needs to model learning in this area.


I think some teachers still think technology is reserved for students who are going into IT or some other computer related field. But that’s just not the case. Nearly every profession will be impacted by technology advances. Moreover, every person needs skills for how to use technology for learning and creating. It’s not about knowing specific tech tools. It’s about knowing how to be an effective learner in a modern digital world. Using the tools just flows from the needs of being a learner.


Everyone is at a different place on their personal learning journey. Educators should understand and embrace this. Not every teacher has to be at a certain level. But the point is to continuously grow. Keep learning and taking risks with technology. Always.


Question: How are these technology conversations going for you? What other conversations should educators be having related to technology? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More Five Critical #EdTech Conversations For Your School





Developing a shared vision for technology in your school should include lots of conversations. These conversations should occur among teachers, students, parents, and other stakeholders. It’s important to think through the pros and cons of technology use and how technology can play an valuable role in learning.


Sometimes I think people hold ideas about technology that only consider one side of the issue. Forward thinking educators and parents want to race ahead with technology implementation without considering some of the drawbacks.


On the other hand, status quo defenders quickly point out the drawbacks of technology use in the classroom without considering how important technology will be to student success in a rapidly changing world. 


To bridge the divide, we need to have more honest conversations and seek to understand the various issues. Whichever way we lean, we need to consider various perspectives and use good thinking to arrive at common ground.


Here are 5 conversations to have about education technology in your classroom or school.


1. Why is technology use important?


Even if you don’t really like the prominent role of technology in our society, it is indisputable that more and more opportunities are tied to the effective use of technology for learning and productivity. In our modern world, digital technology is how stuff gets done. And clearly the internet is not going away. And mobile technology is not just a fad. 


So if we are going to truly prepare students for their future, we must include technology as an essential part of the learning process. Technology needs to be implemented in authentic ways that reflect the way it is used by people across a wide variety of professions. 


We should also invite students to use their imaginations to consider how technology might be used in the future. Opportunities for innovation abound. The ability to adapt and create might allow students to ‘create’ a job for themselves even when the traditional way of ‘finding’ a job might prove more difficult. All the rules are changing.
2. What are things technology won’t do for your classroom or school?


Technology should not be viewed as something that will automatically result in better learning for students. In fact, technology can actually hurt learning if it is not implemented properly. It’s important to start with a strong learning culture and a teacher who inspires and guides learning. Effective technology use requires effective leadership.


So let’s talk openly about the limitations of technology. 
  • Adding technology won’t make a poor lesson suddenly great.
  • It won’t fix a learning culture that is sluggish or disengaged.
  • It won’t necessarily result in higher standardized test scores.
  • Technology isn’t appropriate for every learning task.
  • Technology can be a distraction. 
  • It can also bring new concerns for student wellness and safety.


Adding technology to lessons doesn’t make them great lessons. #edchat #edtech #sunchat pic.twitter.com/iKWUYTfOGr

— David Geurin (@DavidGeurin) September 25, 2016



3. How can we overcome challenges that come with technology use?

Too many educators focus on the drawbacks or challenges to technology use and never even consider how these obstacles can be overcome. There are significant challenges when using technology for learning. However, there are plenty of schools that are doing a great job of addressing and overcoming every one of the challenges. But it takes a concerted effort to address these concerns.
  • Educators must model safe and appropriate use of technology.
  • Schools must teach digital citizenship and activate students as digital leaders.
  • Schools must support professional learning for teachers on technology use.
  • Effective pedagogy must be prioritized over using technology for the sake of technology.
  • Schools must develop strong relationships with students, parents, etc. so that there is a cooperative effort to make technology work for learning. 
4. What are the most valuable ways we can use technology for learning?


Not all uses of technology are created equal. Some ways of using technology are more valuable than others. We need to use technology in ways that are high leverage for learning. 


When used effectively, technology can be powerful. In fact, it can transform learning. In an earlier post I listed 7 Ways Technology Transforms Learning. Most importantly, technology can empower learning. It can give learners greater voice, more opportunities, and provide the platform to create new knowledge in a very personal and customized way.


Some ways of using technology are not as effective for learning. They don’t result in greater student agency, deeper thinking, or more opportunities to connect with others.
  • Drill and kill on a device is still low leverage.
  • Activities that are simply “busy work” are still mindless even on a device.
  • Test prep programs are not my idea of authentic technology use.
  • Worksheets are not more engaging just because they are pushed out on a device.
Effective learning with technology should involve students in making decisions about their learning. There should be opportunities for students to make learning choices about time, place, path, or pace. 


5. How are you growing in your use of technology as an educator?


One of the most important parts of successful use of technology in schools is that educators are growing in their use of technology, too. It’s critical for leaders to model learning with digital tools. In fact, anyone who wants to be a leader needs to be a digital leader, too. It’s not something reserved for the technology department or techie teachers only. Everyone needs to model learning in this area.


I think some teachers still think technology is reserved for students who are going into IT or some other computer related field. But that’s just not the case. Nearly every profession will be impacted by technology advances. Moreover, every person needs skills for how to use technology for learning and creating. It’s not about knowing specific tech tools. It’s about knowing how to be an effective learner in a modern digital world. Using the tools just flows from the needs of being a learner.


Everyone is at a different place on their personal learning journey. Educators should understand and embrace this. Not every teacher has to be at a certain level. But the point is to continuously grow. Keep learning and taking risks with technology. Always.


Question: How are these technology conversations going for you? What other conversations should educators be having related to technology? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More Five Critical #EdTech Conversations For Your School





In an earlier post, I shared 7 Reasons To Use Social Media In Your School. The post outlines some of the biggest reasons to use social media as an educator. Never before have people been able to connect, share, and learn from one another the way we do now. Email is becoming less prevalent while social media platforms are becoming stronger even for professional communications. I’ve been thinking about one other reason to use social media, but before I get to that, I want to share 8 ideas your might want to try to incorporate social media into the life of your school. I included links to lots of examples and resources in this post. I hope you find them helpful.

1. Tell your story



More and more schools are using Twitter or Facebook, and even Instagram and SnapChat to share positive moments and student successes. Social media is a great way to connect with your community and showcase the great things happening in your school.



2. Share information



Social media can be a great way to share your monthly newsletter or an upcoming event, like parent open house or the school musical. Canva is a great tool to create social media images to use to promote different events.



3. Student takes over the school Twitter for a day or even a week



We’ve done this a handful of times, and it’s been a fun thing to do. We just ask a responsible student if they would like to tweet out their day through the school account. We make some announcements leading up to it and give them some ideas of things to tweet about. It’s a good way to encourage student voice and build trust with students. 

4. Snow day chat



Last year we didn’t have many snow days at all. In fact, it was an extremely mild winter. But two years ago, we had a really fun snow day chat with lots of students and teachers participating. We joked around some, but we also discussed some important topics like helping friends overcome challenges. Just because we’re not at school doesn’t mean we can’t connect and learn. And students joined in just for the experience. Of course, it probably didn’t hurt that I said school would be canceled again the next day if we had 100 participants. 🙂



5. Teachers tweet out from other teachers’ classrooms



We did instructional rounds using Twitter to share out the great stuff happening in classrooms. Teachers were invited to visit other classrooms on their conference period. The idea was to tweet out the great things happening and really lift each other up and make learning visible. If a teacher preferred not to have visitors, they just posted a note outside of their classroom. 



6. Social media kindness campaign



Last year our Character Council partnered with several other CharacterPlus schools to do a social media campaign to promote kindness and acceptance. The students in the group wrote positive messages on sticky notes and placed them on every desk in the school. When students arrived at school, everyone had a positive message. Students were asked to tweet out the messages using #StartsWithUs.



7.Twitter scavenger hunt



We had a couple of Twitter scavenger hunts, one for faculty and one for incoming freshmen. They are great team builders, but you can also use them to accomplish tasks in a fun way. For instance, one of the faculty challenges involved learning about different Twitter chats.



8. Play games



Sometimes we use Twitter to give away prizes or play games during Spirit Week or any other time we want to spice things up. We had a mystery teacher game where we tweeted out clues about a teacher and students had to guess who it was.



9. Host a Twitter party



We haven’t done this…yet. But we are planning something similar. Jennifer Hogan shared this idea on her blog. It’s a great way to introduce newbies to Twitter and encourage teachers to use social media. It really looks like a lot of fun. For all the details, check out Jennifer’s post: Kickstart your school’s social media use with a Twitter party.



The opportunities for using Twitter or other social media platforms are really endless. It’s a great way to build community, generate school spirit, and promote creativity and whimsy.



But I also wanted to share one more important reason to use social media with your students. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I believe in sharing what students are learning on social media for this reason: I believe what students are learning is important enough to share with the world. It matters. 



Students deserve to have their learning celebrated. Tell your students the quality work they produce deserves to be shared beyond the school walls. It’s a great message to emphasize that learning isn’t just for the classroom. It should be shared widely.



Question: What ways are you using social media in your classroom or school? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.



Read More One More Reason to Use Social Media in Your School





In an earlier post, I shared 7 Reasons To Use Social Media In Your School. The post outlines some of the biggest reasons to use social media as an educator. Never before have people been able to connect, share, and learn from one another the way we do now. Email is becoming less prevalent while social media platforms are becoming stronger even for professional communications. I’ve been thinking about one other reason to use social media, but before I get to that, I want to share 8 ideas your might want to try to incorporate social media into the life of your school. I included links to lots of examples and resources in this post. I hope you find them helpful.

1. Tell your story



More and more schools are using Twitter or Facebook, and even Instagram and SnapChat to share positive moments and student successes. Social media is a great way to connect with your community and showcase the great things happening in your school.



2. Share information



Social media can be a great way to share your monthly newsletter or an upcoming event, like parent open house or the school musical. Canva is a great tool to create social media images to use to promote different events.



3. Student takes over the school Twitter for a day or even a week



We’ve done this a handful of times, and it’s been a fun thing to do. We just ask a responsible student if they would like to tweet out their day through the school account. We make some announcements leading up to it and give them some ideas of things to tweet about. It’s a good way to encourage student voice and build trust with students. 

4. Snow day chat



Last year we didn’t have many snow days at all. In fact, it was an extremely mild winter. But two years ago, we had a really fun snow day chat with lots of students and teachers participating. We joked around some, but we also discussed some important topics like helping friends overcome challenges. Just because we’re not at school doesn’t mean we can’t connect and learn. And students joined in just for the experience. Of course, it probably didn’t hurt that I said school would be canceled again the next day if we had 100 participants. 🙂



5. Teachers tweet out from other teachers’ classrooms



We did instructional rounds using Twitter to share out the great stuff happening in classrooms. Teachers were invited to visit other classrooms on their conference period. The idea was to tweet out the great things happening and really lift each other up and make learning visible. If a teacher preferred not to have visitors, they just posted a note outside of their classroom. 



6. Social media kindness campaign



Last year our Character Council partnered with several other CharacterPlus schools to do a social media campaign to promote kindness and acceptance. The students in the group wrote positive messages on sticky notes and placed them on every desk in the school. When students arrived at school, everyone had a positive message. Students were asked to tweet out the messages using #StartsWithUs.



7.Twitter scavenger hunt



We had a couple of Twitter scavenger hunts, one for faculty and one for incoming freshmen. They are great team builders, but you can also use them to accomplish tasks in a fun way. For instance, one of the faculty challenges involved learning about different Twitter chats.



8. Play games



Sometimes we use Twitter to give away prizes or play games during Spirit Week or any other time we want to spice things up. We had a mystery teacher game where we tweeted out clues about a teacher and students had to guess who it was.



9. Host a Twitter party



We haven’t done this…yet. But we are planning something similar. Jennifer Hogan shared this idea on her blog. It’s a great way to introduce newbies to Twitter and encourage teachers to use social media. It really looks like a lot of fun. For all the details, check out Jennifer’s post: Kickstart your school’s social media use with a Twitter party.



The opportunities for using Twitter or other social media platforms are really endless. It’s a great way to build community, generate school spirit, and promote creativity and whimsy.



But I also wanted to share one more important reason to use social media with your students. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I believe in sharing what students are learning on social media for this reason: I believe what students are learning is important enough to share with the world. It matters. 



Students deserve to have their learning celebrated. Tell your students the quality work they produce deserves to be shared beyond the school walls. It’s a great message to emphasize that learning isn’t just for the classroom. It should be shared widely.



Question: What ways are you using social media in your classroom or school? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.



Read More One More Reason to Use Social Media in Your School



Guest Post by Gina Green



Why is computer science important?



Students are required to take history, math, English, and science classes so that they have a general knowledge of the world around them. Notice anything missing? I do. It’s computer science.



For most high school students, their phone is integrated into every part of their lives. It’s how they socialize, complete school work, and find answers to their questions. I believe that students should at least have the option to learn how the digital world works.



According to Techprep by Facebook, there will be one million unfilled computer science jobs in the United States by 2020. Code.org and Gallup point out that only 1 in 10 schools offer computer science, even though:



At a time when young adults are living with their parents at the highest rate since 1880,  it just makes sense to give students exposure to a career field for which they could be passionate about, make an above-average wage, and have unlimited possibilities. Computer science related jobs are in every field, every industry, and behind every entrepreneurial endeavor.  


Our high school’s computer science journey began four years ago when the computer science department chair of our local university contacted Dr. Geurin to ask what computer science classes we were offering. The answer was none. So, the following year, we offered one semester of Introduction to Programming. Three years later, we are offering six semesters of various computer science courses. It’s amazing growth, but we’re not done yet. We hope to expand our course offerings even more in the next two years.  




Action Steps



If your school is ready to look into starting a computer science program, I would highly recommend partnering with a nearby university or community college that has computer science programs.  They’ll be able to help you figure out where to begin.



You’ll also need a teacher who is willing to teach CS and devote time to training.  If you are that teacher, prepare for CS to level up your passion for teaching. It’s the most rewarding, challenging, best-thing-ever for students that I’ve done in my career.  I’ve been approached by several teachers from other districts about starting a CS program at their high school and my response is generally received with two types of attitudes.



Sometimes the teachers are so eager to get started that they take notes as I’m talking. Other times they start telling me that they’ve taught for too many years, have just a few years until retirement, have paid their “dues,” are done with furthering their knowledge base, and their principal is really the one who’s wanting to know. Well, okay. Be the teacher with the ‘can do’ attitude.  A new CS program will never work if the teacher is not excited about teaching the courses.



Get support from the district leadership. Everyone should be on the same page about what training and equipment the district is willing and able to provide. Be sure to include the counselors in this discussion. This year, I’m going to make a computer science course guide on a laminated card for the counselors to keep by their desks. This information will help them guide students to the proper classes.




Resources to help you get started




What is computer science?  — I love this video. It can be used to explain what computer science is to staff, students, and parents.




Project Lead the Way — PLTW is a fantastic way to kickstart your CS program. PLTW offers hands-on training to teachers. The teachers actually go through the curriculum they’ll be teaching to the students with the help of a PLTW Master Teacher. It was, by far, the best professional development I’ve ever had. The high school course offerings are expanding each year.




Computer Science Teachers Association — See if there’s a CSTA in your state or area. Right now, it’s free to join CSTA. Your local chapter will have a website that has forums, resources, and, most importantly, a network of support.




Advanced Placement Summer Institute — Even if your school is not going to offer CS as an Advanced Placement course, attending a summer training will be beneficial. An APSI will give the teacher aligned objectives, essential questions, prompts, projects, and rubrics, not to mention a network of support. I walk away from APSI every summer with the curriculum of a certified AP instructor that has many more years of experience teaching CS than I do.  



It’s often said that we are preparing students for careers that haven’t even been invented yet.  I believe that the majority of those future careers will involve students being creators of technological content, not just consumers of it.  As educators, we are in the business of doing what’s best for students.  Unquestionably, exposing students to computer science is what is best for them. Now, go start a computer science program at your school!

Connect with me!

Gina Green

Bolivar High School

Bolivar, MO

@BHSBizDept

ggreen@bolivarschools.org






Intro to Programming students are making circuit boards today! #BHSmatters pic.twitter.com/ysmIBJqakw

— Gina Green (@BHSBizDept) May 5, 2016

Thanks to SBU CIS students Allison Hawkins & Jordan Brown for leading Hour of Code in my class today! #bhsmatters pic.twitter.com/eo8IRZjXpa

— Gina Green (@BHSBizDept) December 7, 2015

Read More Why Your High School Should Teach Computer Science {Guest Post}



Guest Post by Gina Green



Why is computer science important?



Students are required to take history, math, English, and science classes so that they have a general knowledge of the world around them. Notice anything missing? I do. It’s computer science.



For most high school students, their phone is integrated into every part of their lives. It’s how they socialize, complete school work, and find answers to their questions. I believe that students should at least have the option to learn how the digital world works.



According to Techprep by Facebook, there will be one million unfilled computer science jobs in the United States by 2020. Code.org and Gallup point out that only 1 in 10 schools offer computer science, even though:



At a time when young adults are living with their parents at the highest rate since 1880,  it just makes sense to give students exposure to a career field for which they could be passionate about, make an above-average wage, and have unlimited possibilities. Computer science related jobs are in every field, every industry, and behind every entrepreneurial endeavor.  


Our high school’s computer science journey began four years ago when the computer science department chair of our local university contacted Dr. Geurin to ask what computer science classes we were offering. The answer was none. So, the following year, we offered one semester of Introduction to Programming. Three years later, we are offering six semesters of various computer science courses. It’s amazing growth, but we’re not done yet. We hope to expand our course offerings even more in the next two years.  




Action Steps



If your school is ready to look into starting a computer science program, I would highly recommend partnering with a nearby university or community college that has computer science programs.  They’ll be able to help you figure out where to begin.



You’ll also need a teacher who is willing to teach CS and devote time to training.  If you are that teacher, prepare for CS to level up your passion for teaching. It’s the most rewarding, challenging, best-thing-ever for students that I’ve done in my career.  I’ve been approached by several teachers from other districts about starting a CS program at their high school and my response is generally received with two types of attitudes.



Sometimes the teachers are so eager to get started that they take notes as I’m talking. Other times they start telling me that they’ve taught for too many years, have just a few years until retirement, have paid their “dues,” are done with furthering their knowledge base, and their principal is really the one who’s wanting to know. Well, okay. Be the teacher with the ‘can do’ attitude.  A new CS program will never work if the teacher is not excited about teaching the courses.



Get support from the district leadership. Everyone should be on the same page about what training and equipment the district is willing and able to provide. Be sure to include the counselors in this discussion. This year, I’m going to make a computer science course guide on a laminated card for the counselors to keep by their desks. This information will help them guide students to the proper classes.




Resources to help you get started




What is computer science?  — I love this video. It can be used to explain what computer science is to staff, students, and parents.




Project Lead the Way — PLTW is a fantastic way to kickstart your CS program. PLTW offers hands-on training to teachers. The teachers actually go through the curriculum they’ll be teaching to the students with the help of a PLTW Master Teacher. It was, by far, the best professional development I’ve ever had. The high school course offerings are expanding each year.




Computer Science Teachers Association — See if there’s a CSTA in your state or area. Right now, it’s free to join CSTA. Your local chapter will have a website that has forums, resources, and, most importantly, a network of support.




Advanced Placement Summer Institute — Even if your school is not going to offer CS as an Advanced Placement course, attending a summer training will be beneficial. An APSI will give the teacher aligned objectives, essential questions, prompts, projects, and rubrics, not to mention a network of support. I walk away from APSI every summer with the curriculum of a certified AP instructor that has many more years of experience teaching CS than I do.  



It’s often said that we are preparing students for careers that haven’t even been invented yet.  I believe that the majority of those future careers will involve students being creators of technological content, not just consumers of it.  As educators, we are in the business of doing what’s best for students.  Unquestionably, exposing students to computer science is what is best for them. Now, go start a computer science program at your school!

Connect with me!

Gina Green

Bolivar High School

Bolivar, MO

@BHSBizDept

ggreen@bolivarschools.org






Intro to Programming students are making circuit boards today! #BHSmatters pic.twitter.com/ysmIBJqakw

— Gina Green (@BHSBizDept) May 5, 2016

Thanks to SBU CIS students Allison Hawkins & Jordan Brown for leading Hour of Code in my class today! #bhsmatters pic.twitter.com/eo8IRZjXpa

— Gina Green (@BHSBizDept) December 7, 2015

Read More Why Your High School Should Teach Computer Science {Guest Post}

I had the privilege of speaking to middle school and high school students on the notion of “Digital Leadership”, which I wrote a definition for in 2013: Using the vast reach of technology (especially the use of social media) to improve the lives, well-being, and circumstances of others. As I started the presentation, I asked … [Read more…]

Read More Focusing on What Students Can Do