Tag: edtech





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

If you’ve been on the fence about using Twitter to support your professional learning, this list might help. If you exhibit the following signs, it’s probably a good idea to just forget about Twitter.



1. You don’t understand Twitter and aren’t willing to learn.


2. You don’t need any more personal or professional support. You have all the friends you’ll ever need.


3. You have perfected your craft. Every kid is learning every day. You have no room for improvement.


4. You’ve never had a good idea someone else might benefit from.


5. You’re not interested in your voice being part of a larger conversation about education.


6. You only collaborate with colleagues in your school because they have cornered the market on how to teach well.


7. You don’t have time to do something that could be a game-changer for you and your students.
8. You’re afraid you might change your mind about something. You hold onto your beliefs about kids and learning like a security blanket. You wouldn’t want that disturbed. What if your flawed assumptions were challenged and didn’t hold up under scrutiny? Ouch!


9. You can’t believe amazing professional learning could be free and convenient and totally self-directed!?! But it is.


10. You’re so passionate about education and kids, you are afraid you will get addicted and have to go to therapy (warning: this could happen).



If this list doesn’t describe you, you might be a great candidate to use Twitter to grow your PLN (personal learning network). Twitter may seem a little difficult at first, but it’s a great way to challenge your thinking, find new resources, connect with educators across the globe, and consider new ideas that can help your professional practice.



Best of all, it’s free and can be done at your convenience, any time of day all from the comfort of wherever you are. There are really no wrong ways to use Twitter for professional learning as long as you feel it’s supporting your goals. For me, it’s been the most powerful professional learning possible. It’s been a game-changer.






Question: Is Twitter your thing? Or are you still on the sidelines? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook…or Twitter. 🙂

Read More 10 Signs Twitter PD Might Not Be Your Thing

If you’ve been on the fence about using Twitter to support your professional learning, this list might help. If you exhibit the following signs, it’s probably a good idea to just forget about Twitter.



1. You don’t understand Twitter and aren’t willing to learn.


2. You don’t need any more personal or professional support. You have all the friends you’ll ever need.


3. You have perfected your craft. Every kid is learning every day. You have no room for improvement.


4. You’ve never had a good idea someone else might benefit from.


5. You’re not interested in your voice being part of a larger conversation about education.


6. You only collaborate with colleagues in your school because they have cornered the market on how to teach well.


7. You don’t have time to do something that could be a game-changer for you and your students.
8. You’re afraid you might change your mind about something. You hold onto your beliefs about kids and learning like a security blanket. You wouldn’t want that disturbed. What if your flawed assumptions were challenged and didn’t hold up under scrutiny? Ouch!


9. You can’t believe amazing professional learning could be free and convenient and totally self-directed!?! But it is.


10. You’re so passionate about education and kids, you are afraid you will get addicted and have to go to therapy (warning: this could happen).



If this list doesn’t describe you, you might be a great candidate to use Twitter to grow your PLN (personal learning network). Twitter may seem a little difficult at first, but it’s a great way to challenge your thinking, find new resources, connect with educators across the globe, and consider new ideas that can help your professional practice.



Best of all, it’s free and can be done at your convenience, any time of day all from the comfort of wherever you are. There are really no wrong ways to use Twitter for professional learning as long as you feel it’s supporting your goals. For me, it’s been the most powerful professional learning possible. It’s been a game-changer.






Question: Is Twitter your thing? Or are you still on the sidelines? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook…or Twitter. 🙂

Read More 10 Signs Twitter PD Might Not Be Your Thing

Spending a lot of time at technology conferences, one thing is evident; there are a ton of sessions on “stuff”.  As I write this post, people are scurrying around to find ways to connect “Pokemon Go” to the classroom. Sessions like “100 tech tools in 60 minutes”, often dominate these conferences.  So many choices, yet … [Read more…]

Read More “EdTech” is a Leadership Position



What are some things you use every day? I bet I can predict with great certainty a few of them. Let’s see. I’m guessing you use your toothbrush every day. How about water? Electricity? Hopefully clothes, unless you are appearing on the reality show Naked and AfraidGood grief. What will they think of next? 



Umm…I’m guessing you use a bed every day (or night), probably a car, and you can’t forget this next one. It’s very important. You probably use a toilet every single day. It’s necessary, right?



I’m sure you’re amazed right now at my ability to know you so well. It’s almost like I know everything about your daily life. You might be a little creeped out. Has that crazy Twitter principal been stalking me? 



But wait, I’m not done yet. There is one more thing I bet you use every day. In fact, I think you might be using it right now. Most of us use one or more of these nearly every singe day. If you are a teenager, you might have confused it with one of your other four limbs.



That’s right. You guessed it. It’s a connected device. For you teenagers, that doesn’t mean it’s connected to your body. It could be a mobile phone, a laptop, a Chromebook, an iPad, or one of the many other varieties out there. We like to connect every day.



I’m guessing many of you even use several of these devices during your typical day. You probably have a couple at home, at least one at work, and a smartphone that goes with you everywhere. 






I just ran around our house and did a quick audit. Drum roll please. I counted 29 web connected devices in our home. We need to have a garage sale. Of course, who would buy a Palm Pre smartphone? It was a great device in 2010. Just shows how irrelevant a device can be in just six years. The Palm brand has gone the way of the dinosaurs. Extinct.



So last year was the first year our school was 1:1. Every student had a Chromebook to use for learning every day. One of the reasons our school made this move was because we all use technology in our everyday lives, so why should school be any different?



Before 1:1 came to Bolivar High School, using technology was not necessarily an everyday thing. We had computers in the library, in computer labs, a few scattered around in different classrooms, etc. But there was not consistent access. Some students rarely used a device for learning.



As we made the transition to 1:1, we knew every teacher was in a different place in terms of their comfort and skill with using technology. Of course, we are always striving to increase the comfort and knowledge of our staff. And we like to nudge people out of their comfort zone, too.






But since everyone was in a different place, we didn’t set any universal expectations. There weren’t any quotas or mandates on how to use the Chromebooks. Every teacher is unique, and the curriculum they teach is unique too. So we didn’t expect everyone to use the Chromebooks in the same way, or equally as often.



We simply asked everyone to look for ways the technology could provide value and enhance learning for students. And I believe every single teacher in our building used the Chromebooks to support learning in one way or another. That’s a good thing.



But even though all of our teachers were open-minded and supported the need to go digital as a school, some just didn’t see the relevance as strongly for their classroom. I’m guessing there were a whole variety of reasons the devices were used or under-used in each classroom.

But consider these questions. Do you have multiple devices in your home? Do you rely on a device daily? Is your ability to connect important to your learning? Do you feel your ability to connect is empowering to you? If you are a digital learner, I’m guessing you answered yes to those questions.



Even if you didn’t answer yes to all of the previous questions, consider the following. Do most professionals use devices every day? Are the most successful people connected learners? Is our world becoming increasingly digital? Will more opportunities come to those who are competent digital learners?



It just seems obvious to me that our students will need to be digital learners to be successful in the future. Heck, they need to be digital learners now in order to get the most from their school experience. There are tools and resources available online that far exceed the resources we could provide otherwise.



And almost every school has realized this to some extent. I haven’t visited a school yet that isn’t using computers or digital learning in some way. 



But technology should be an every day thing. It shouldn’t be a special event, a remediation strategy, a canned learning program, or an enrichment activity after the real learning is done. It should be an authentic part of learning. It should empower us, connect us, and give us new opportunities. It should stimulate curiosity, creativity, and help us solve problems.



Technology can be used to support learning, but it can also be used in ways that transform learning. And it is far more likely to be transformational when it is used regularly. It just becomes a normal part of learning and not an add-on or special event.



Now you might be thinking that using technology in every class, every day sounds rigid. And don’t we sometimes need a break from tech? Don’t we need to unplug occasionally? Aren’t students using technology every day anyway? Some students are probably using technology too much, right?



We absolutely need to keep some balance in mind. Too much screen time can be bad for us. We need to unplug from time to time. I took a month-long break personally in July 2015. There are benefits to pausing and stepping away from devices.



But that’s not a reason for limiting tech in the classroom when it could be so helpful. I recently learned about the Project Red research study, a large-scale look at practices in 997 schools across the U.S. The report includes seven key findings about the effective use of technology in schools. One of the key findings was related to the importance of daily technology use:




Schools must incorporate technology into daily teaching to realize the benefits. The daily use of technology in core classes correlates highly to the desirable education success measures (ESMs). Daily technology use is a top-five indicator of better discipline, better attendance, and increased college attendance.

The Project Red report shows how powerful technology can be when it is used effectively. There were all sorts of positive outcomes in schools that implemented technology well, including the benefits found from daily use of technology instead of intermittent use.



So I would challenge you to consider how you are using technology in your classroom. Is it an every day thing? Even if your students don’t have access to school-issued devices, what can you do to help them develop as digital learners? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or TwitterHere we grow!

Read More Technology Is An Every Day Thing



What are some things you use every day? I bet I can predict with great certainty a few of them. Let’s see. I’m guessing you use your toothbrush every day. How about water? Electricity? Hopefully clothes, unless you are appearing on the reality show Naked and AfraidGood grief. What will they think of next? 



Umm…I’m guessing you use a bed every day (or night), probably a car, and you can’t forget this next one. It’s very important. You probably use a toilet every single day. It’s necessary, right?



I’m sure you’re amazed right now at my ability to know you so well. It’s almost like I know everything about your daily life. You might be a little creeped out. Has that crazy Twitter principal been stalking me? 



But wait, I’m not done yet. There is one more thing I bet you use every day. In fact, I think you might be using it right now. Most of us use one or more of these nearly every singe day. If you are a teenager, you might have confused it with one of your other four limbs.



That’s right. You guessed it. It’s a connected device. For you teenagers, that doesn’t mean it’s connected to your body. It could be a mobile phone, a laptop, a Chromebook, an iPad, or one of the many other varieties out there. We like to connect every day.



I’m guessing many of you even use several of these devices during your typical day. You probably have a couple at home, at least one at work, and a smartphone that goes with you everywhere. 






I just ran around our house and did a quick audit. Drum roll please. I counted 29 web connected devices in our home. We need to have a garage sale. Of course, who would buy a Palm Pre smartphone? It was a great device in 2010. Just shows how irrelevant a device can be in just six years. The Palm brand has gone the way of the dinosaurs. Extinct.



So last year was the first year our school was 1:1. Every student had a Chromebook to use for learning every day. One of the reasons our school made this move was because we all use technology in our everyday lives, so why should school be any different?



Before 1:1 came to Bolivar High School, using technology was not necessarily an everyday thing. We had computers in the library, in computer labs, a few scattered around in different classrooms, etc. But there was not consistent access. Some students rarely used a device for learning.



As we made the transition to 1:1, we knew every teacher was in a different place in terms of their comfort and skill with using technology. Of course, we are always striving to increase the comfort and knowledge of our staff. And we like to nudge people out of their comfort zone, too.






But since everyone was in a different place, we didn’t set any universal expectations. There weren’t any quotas or mandates on how to use the Chromebooks. Every teacher is unique, and the curriculum they teach is unique too. So we didn’t expect everyone to use the Chromebooks in the same way, or equally as often.



We simply asked everyone to look for ways the technology could provide value and enhance learning for students. And I believe every single teacher in our building used the Chromebooks to support learning in one way or another. That’s a good thing.



But even though all of our teachers were open-minded and supported the need to go digital as a school, some just didn’t see the relevance as strongly for their classroom. I’m guessing there were a whole variety of reasons the devices were used or under-used in each classroom.

But consider these questions. Do you have multiple devices in your home? Do you rely on a device daily? Is your ability to connect important to your learning? Do you feel your ability to connect is empowering to you? If you are a digital learner, I’m guessing you answered yes to those questions.



Even if you didn’t answer yes to all of the previous questions, consider the following. Do most professionals use devices every day? Are the most successful people connected learners? Is our world becoming increasingly digital? Will more opportunities come to those who are competent digital learners?



It just seems obvious to me that our students will need to be digital learners to be successful in the future. Heck, they need to be digital learners now in order to get the most from their school experience. There are tools and resources available online that far exceed the resources we could provide otherwise.



And almost every school has realized this to some extent. I haven’t visited a school yet that isn’t using computers or digital learning in some way. 



But technology should be an every day thing. It shouldn’t be a special event, a remediation strategy, a canned learning program, or an enrichment activity after the real learning is done. It should be an authentic part of learning. It should empower us, connect us, and give us new opportunities. It should stimulate curiosity, creativity, and help us solve problems.



Technology can be used to support learning, but it can also be used in ways that transform learning. And it is far more likely to be transformational when it is used regularly. It just becomes a normal part of learning and not an add-on or special event.



Now you might be thinking that using technology in every class, every day sounds rigid. And don’t we sometimes need a break from tech? Don’t we need to unplug occasionally? Aren’t students using technology every day anyway? Some students are probably using technology too much, right?



We absolutely need to keep some balance in mind. Too much screen time can be bad for us. We need to unplug from time to time. I took a month-long break personally in July 2015. There are benefits to pausing and stepping away from devices.



But that’s not a reason for limiting tech in the classroom when it could be so helpful. I recently learned about the Project Red research study, a large-scale look at practices in 997 schools across the U.S. The report includes seven key findings about the effective use of technology in schools. One of the key findings was related to the importance of daily technology use:




Schools must incorporate technology into daily teaching to realize the benefits. The daily use of technology in core classes correlates highly to the desirable education success measures (ESMs). Daily technology use is a top-five indicator of better discipline, better attendance, and increased college attendance.

The Project Red report shows how powerful technology can be when it is used effectively. There were all sorts of positive outcomes in schools that implemented technology well, including the benefits found from daily use of technology instead of intermittent use.



So I would challenge you to consider how you are using technology in your classroom. Is it an every day thing? Even if your students don’t have access to school-issued devices, what can you do to help them develop as digital learners? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or TwitterHere we grow!

Read More Technology Is An Every Day Thing



A few years ago our school went through a very difficult time with technology. Nothing worked. Nothing. At least that’s how everyone felt. I knew it was bad when students were hammering on stone tablets in classrooms!?!



There were several factors that created the problems we experienced, and even though I’m sort of a techie principal, I felt helpless to address all of the issues we faced. Our network was a mess. Computer labs didn’t work properly. It was impossible to print anything. Our limited tech support staff was overwhelmed.




Image retrieved: http://leadkrabi.com/services/computer-consulting/

Thankfully, we are far past those days now. Just this past school year, we made a significant digital conversion by placing Chromebooks in the hands of each of our 800+ students. Although there were a few issues, overall our network is strong and most of the time the Chromebooks worked great. Teachers were singing the Hallelujah Chorus.


And for good reason. 



Technology failure can be one of the most frustrating things a teacher can face in the classroom. It can leave you feeling helpless and embarrassed. In fact, the fear of a technology fail is one of the main reasons teachers are hesitant to try new things with technology. What if it doesn’t work? What if something goes wrong? What then?


It doesn’t help that in far too many schools, technology is not adequately supported. Computers are old. Networks are slow. Students don’t have much access to a device except when a teacher schedules a trip to a computer lab. And just showing a video or having students comment on a blog post can be almost impossible as a result of the blocks and filters that are in place. It seems there can be so many barriers to using tech in the classroom. 


Another reason some teachers don’t use technology is they are afraid they will do something wrong. Technology can seem impossible and scary. Some aren’t sure if they have the skills to succeed. Or they believe they will mess it up. And when your confidence is wavering and you don’t feel successful, it’s really hard to take risks and learn more. By the way, educators should always remember some students probably feel this way about learning reading, math, or grammar. But that’s a topic for a different blog post.


Instead of seeing technology failure as failing, what if we embraced technology failure as an opportunity to learn? It’s great when students see teachers modeling perseverance, flexibility, and problem-solving. All of these qualities can be on full display when something goes wrong with technology in the classroom. It’s a great opportunity for the teacher to take on the role of learner. I believe we need more examples of teachers learning right alongside their students.


I mentioned earlier that our Chromebook launch this year was successful. It was definitely not a tech fail. However, I promise you there were more technology failures than ever before in our building, because students and teachers were using technology more than ever before. But what a great opportunity to teach problem-solving and perseverance. I often write about how important it is to be adaptable as a future-ready skill. Being adaptable with technology is extremely valuable in a world where technology is changing so fast and is such an essential part of how things get done.


So how do we handle the inevitable technology failures we are bound to experience? Should we just play it safe and only use technology in ways we feel most confident? Or just copy another stack worksheets instead? Absolutely not. Embrace failure. Expect it. Nothing works right all the time. Don’t let problems with tech keep you from using it in your classroom.






If you get frustrated every time you have a problem with technology, you’re either going to be frustrated all the time, or you’ll just give up. It would be a shame if you didn’t use technology because of your personal fears or preferences. It’s so important for our students to have experiences using technology as a learning tool. So make up your mind before you start that technology failure is possible and prepare for how you will respond when it doesn’t work right. Even though technology itself won’t make your class great, it can contribute to a more relevant and effective learning environment. Ultimately, technology is awesome in the classroom where there is also an awesome teacher, like you!


Using Tech Failure as an Opportunity to Learn
Here are 11 tips for dealing with tech failure in your classroom.


1. Plan for it. Don’t be surprised when tech fails. Expect it.


2. Think in advance about what could go wrong. This can help prevent some problems in the first place. It’s great to test the technology in advance if possible to make sure it works. 


3. Talk with your students up front about how technology sometimes fails. Explain what will happen in your class when something doesn’t work. Teach students in advance the mindset you want them to have. Let them know we will find a workaround and press on. It doesn’t mean the lesson is over or learning stops.


4. Enlist students to help solve the problem. The smartest person in the room is the room. Alone we may be smart, but together we are brilliant. Your students can be a great resource to help correct a tech fail.


5. Build your own technology skills so you have more knowledge to draw on. Try to overcome your fear of technology. No one really taught me how to use tech. I just click on stuff to figure out what happens. You can do this too.


6. Send for support. You may have a technology coach or technician in your building who can offer a helping hand.


7. Use Google, or YouTube, to search for answers. When I’m faced with a technology problem, I can almost always find a solution online. 



8. Don’t allow the limitations of technology in your school keep you from doing what you can. I mentioned how bad technology was for a while in our school. Many of our teachers still found ways to use technology as best they could. We have to do our very best to create an up-to-date classroom even if our tech isn’t up-to-date.



9. Model risk-taking and problem-solving for your students. “We’re going to try this to see if it works. If that doesn’t work, we’ll try something else. We’re going to figure this out!”



10. Always have a Plan B for your lesson. If the tech doesn’t work and troubleshooting doesn’t result in a quick fix, it may be time to move forward with the lesson in a different way. Be adaptable. Thank anyone who tried to help fix the problem and then give clear directions about what will happen next.



11. Don’t apologize. Usually tech failures just happen and aren’t anyone’s fault. It’s Murphy’s Law, right? If it’s not your fault, don’t apologize to your students for the problem. If you feel you must apologize when you see those sad eyes staring at you, only do it once. And then move forward.






One thing we are doing in our school to help address tech failures is empowering students. We created a student tech team to support all things related to digital learning in our school. They call themselves the SWAT Team (Students Working to Advance Technology). The group was organized last school year, and they’ve already provided PD to teachers on Chrome apps/extensions, held a tech night for parents to showcase how digital tools are being used in the classroom, and visited our middle school to share about our high school 1:1 program. Our goal is for this group to take on a greater role in sharing Chromebook knowledge and responding to tech failures when they occur.  



Question: What’s your worst technology fail? How do you respond when technology fails in your classroom or school? Are you open to taking risks and trying new technology? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook

Read More Seeing Tech Failure as an Opportunity to Learn



A few years ago our school went through a very difficult time with technology. Nothing worked. Nothing. At least that’s how everyone felt. I knew it was bad when students were hammering on stone tablets in classrooms!?!



There were several factors that created the problems we experienced, and even though I’m sort of a techie principal, I felt helpless to address all of the issues we faced. Our network was a mess. Computer labs didn’t work properly. It was impossible to print anything. Our limited tech support staff was overwhelmed.




Image retrieved: http://leadkrabi.com/services/computer-consulting/

Thankfully, we are far past those days now. Just this past school year, we made a significant digital conversion by placing Chromebooks in the hands of each of our 800+ students. Although there were a few issues, overall our network is strong and most of the time the Chromebooks worked great. Teachers were singing the Hallelujah Chorus.


And for good reason. 



Technology failure can be one of the most frustrating things a teacher can face in the classroom. It can leave you feeling helpless and embarrassed. In fact, the fear of a technology fail is one of the main reasons teachers are hesitant to try new things with technology. What if it doesn’t work? What if something goes wrong? What then?


It doesn’t help that in far too many schools, technology is not adequately supported. Computers are old. Networks are slow. Students don’t have much access to a device except when a teacher schedules a trip to a computer lab. And just showing a video or having students comment on a blog post can be almost impossible as a result of the blocks and filters that are in place. It seems there can be so many barriers to using tech in the classroom. 


Another reason some teachers don’t use technology is they are afraid they will do something wrong. Technology can seem impossible and scary. Some aren’t sure if they have the skills to succeed. Or they believe they will mess it up. And when your confidence is wavering and you don’t feel successful, it’s really hard to take risks and learn more. By the way, educators should always remember some students probably feel this way about learning reading, math, or grammar. But that’s a topic for a different blog post.


Instead of seeing technology failure as failing, what if we embraced technology failure as an opportunity to learn? It’s great when students see teachers modeling perseverance, flexibility, and problem-solving. All of these qualities can be on full display when something goes wrong with technology in the classroom. It’s a great opportunity for the teacher to take on the role of learner. I believe we need more examples of teachers learning right alongside their students.


I mentioned earlier that our Chromebook launch this year was successful. It was definitely not a tech fail. However, I promise you there were more technology failures than ever before in our building, because students and teachers were using technology more than ever before. But what a great opportunity to teach problem-solving and perseverance. I often write about how important it is to be adaptable as a future-ready skill. Being adaptable with technology is extremely valuable in a world where technology is changing so fast and is such an essential part of how things get done.


So how do we handle the inevitable technology failures we are bound to experience? Should we just play it safe and only use technology in ways we feel most confident? Or just copy another stack worksheets instead? Absolutely not. Embrace failure. Expect it. Nothing works right all the time. Don’t let problems with tech keep you from using it in your classroom.






If you get frustrated every time you have a problem with technology, you’re either going to be frustrated all the time, or you’ll just give up. It would be a shame if you didn’t use technology because of your personal fears or preferences. It’s so important for our students to have experiences using technology as a learning tool. So make up your mind before you start that technology failure is possible and prepare for how you will respond when it doesn’t work right. Even though technology itself won’t make your class great, it can contribute to a more relevant and effective learning environment. Ultimately, technology is awesome in the classroom where there is also an awesome teacher, like you!


Using Tech Failure as an Opportunity to Learn
Here are 11 tips for dealing with tech failure in your classroom.


1. Plan for it. Don’t be surprised when tech fails. Expect it.


2. Think in advance about what could go wrong. This can help prevent some problems in the first place. It’s great to test the technology in advance if possible to make sure it works. 


3. Talk with your students up front about how technology sometimes fails. Explain what will happen in your class when something doesn’t work. Teach students in advance the mindset you want them to have. Let them know we will find a workaround and press on. It doesn’t mean the lesson is over or learning stops.


4. Enlist students to help solve the problem. The smartest person in the room is the room. Alone we may be smart, but together we are brilliant. Your students can be a great resource to help correct a tech fail.


5. Build your own technology skills so you have more knowledge to draw on. Try to overcome your fear of technology. No one really taught me how to use tech. I just click on stuff to figure out what happens. You can do this too.


6. Send for support. You may have a technology coach or technician in your building who can offer a helping hand.


7. Use Google, or YouTube, to search for answers. When I’m faced with a technology problem, I can almost always find a solution online. 



8. Don’t allow the limitations of technology in your school keep you from doing what you can. I mentioned how bad technology was for a while in our school. Many of our teachers still found ways to use technology as best they could. We have to do our very best to create an up-to-date classroom even if our tech isn’t up-to-date.



9. Model risk-taking and problem-solving for your students. “We’re going to try this to see if it works. If that doesn’t work, we’ll try something else. We’re going to figure this out!”



10. Always have a Plan B for your lesson. If the tech doesn’t work and troubleshooting doesn’t result in a quick fix, it may be time to move forward with the lesson in a different way. Be adaptable. Thank anyone who tried to help fix the problem and then give clear directions about what will happen next.



11. Don’t apologize. Usually tech failures just happen and aren’t anyone’s fault. It’s Murphy’s Law, right? If it’s not your fault, don’t apologize to your students for the problem. If you feel you must apologize when you see those sad eyes staring at you, only do it once. And then move forward.






One thing we are doing in our school to help address tech failures is empowering students. We created a student tech team to support all things related to digital learning in our school. They call themselves the SWAT Team (Students Working to Advance Technology). The group was organized last school year, and they’ve already provided PD to teachers on Chrome apps/extensions, held a tech night for parents to showcase how digital tools are being used in the classroom, and visited our middle school to share about our high school 1:1 program. Our goal is for this group to take on a greater role in sharing Chromebook knowledge and responding to tech failures when they occur.  



Question: What’s your worst technology fail? How do you respond when technology fails in your classroom or school? Are you open to taking risks and trying new technology? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook

Read More Seeing Tech Failure as an Opportunity to Learn

One thing is for sure, social media is here to stay. Never before have people been able to connect, share, and learn from one another as we do now. I can only imagine what might be next! As a result, our students need skills to win at life in a digital world. The ability to use social media to support life goals and possibilities can be a game-changer. I know it has been very powerful for me in my professional life.



But one story is truly remarkable. I stumbled across Marc Guberti on Twitter and was immediately interested to learn more about this young man. His bio describes him as an 18-year-old entrepreneur and social media expert. He now has over 290,000 Twitter followers and over 250,000 annual visits to his blog. No doubt he has created a powerful presence online. But he also shared this part of his mission:

“This isn’t just about being successful and having financial flexibility. This is about creating a movement. I want to prove to other teens that it is possible to become successful at a young age. In a world where teens are increasingly going to drugs and drinking as a way to make themselves feel good and student debt keeps on rising, there are resources available that can allow any person of any age to become a leader and create a tribe of people that matter.”

While every student may not want to build a social media empire like Marc, everyone wants to be part of a tribe of people that matter. And as educators, we want every student to have the opportunity to reach the maximum of their potential. In today’s world, the ability to connect productively with others through social media can increase opportunities for college admissions, job opportunities, entrepreneurship ideas, and more. 



I believe helping students use social media effectively starts with educators and schools modeling the use of social media and inviting students to use social media as part of their education. When students see ways social media can be used for learning and professionally, that is a powerful message. We should also model and discuss the safe and appropriate use of social media to help our students avoid situations that could be damaging to themselves or others.



So here are 7 Reasons To Use Social Media In Your School. Feel free to download the infographic below to print or share as you wish. I hope this information helps your school or team.



1. Engage Parents and Community

Social media is a great way to connect with parents and community. Every classroom and school has a story to tell. Social media allows educators the opportunity to make visible the great things that are happening.

2. Share Student Work

Sharing student work on social media instantly creates an authentic audience. It’s possible to share examples of digital products, projects, artwork, writing, and just about anything else.

3. Teach Digital Citizenship



There is so much to know to be a safe, responsible user of social media. We must teach digital citizenship. When we regularly use social media in the classroom, it provides more opportunities for learning about safe and responsible use.

4. Make Global Connections

Give students a sense of learning beyond classroom walls. Social media allows connections across the globe, perhaps with another classroom. These connections help students to see different perspectives and cultures.

5. Prepare Kids for the Future



Social media continues to grow and is now an excellent way to learn, build a professional network, and even get a job. Our students will be better prepared for future opportunities if they have experiences with social media that are for learning and professional reasons.

6. Promote Positive Messages

There are so many negatives on social media. That’s one reason some educators have been reluctant to engage. However, schools have an opportunity to lead to create a positive presence and help students create a positive presence. Make the positives so loud it drowns out the negative aspects of social media.

7. Connect with Experts




We don’t have to be dependent on textbooks anymore for information. It’s possible to connect with experts in every discipline. Classrooms are interacting with authors, scientists, astronauts, activists, and entrepreneurs. These connections are inspiring and authentic.




CLICK ON THE INFOGRAPHIC TO SHARE THIS ON TWITTER.

      

Read More 7 Reasons To Use Social Media In Your School (INFOGRAPHIC)

One thing is for sure, social media is here to stay. Never before have people been able to connect, share, and learn from one another as we do now. I can only imagine what might be next! As a result, our students need skills to win at life in a digital world. The ability to use social media to support life goals and possibilities can be a game-changer. I know it has been very powerful for me in my professional life.



But one story is truly remarkable. I stumbled across Marc Guberti on Twitter and was immediately interested to learn more about this young man. His bio describes him as an 18-year-old entrepreneur and social media expert. He now has over 290,000 Twitter followers and over 250,000 annual visits to his blog. No doubt he has created a powerful presence online. But he also shared this part of his mission:

“This isn’t just about being successful and having financial flexibility. This is about creating a movement. I want to prove to other teens that it is possible to become successful at a young age. In a world where teens are increasingly going to drugs and drinking as a way to make themselves feel good and student debt keeps on rising, there are resources available that can allow any person of any age to become a leader and create a tribe of people that matter.”

While every student may not want to build a social media empire like Marc, everyone wants to be part of a tribe of people that matter. And as educators, we want every student to have the opportunity to reach the maximum of their potential. In today’s world, the ability to connect productively with others through social media can increase opportunities for college admissions, job opportunities, entrepreneurship ideas, and more. 



I believe helping students use social media effectively starts with educators and schools modeling the use of social media and inviting students to use social media as part of their education. When students see ways social media can be used for learning and professionally, that is a powerful message. We should also model and discuss the safe and appropriate use of social media to help our students avoid situations that could be damaging to themselves or others.



So here are 7 Reasons To Use Social Media In Your School. Feel free to download the infographic below to print or share as you wish. I hope this information helps your school or team.



1. Engage Parents and Community

Social media is a great way to connect with parents and community. Every classroom and school has a story to tell. Social media allows educators the opportunity to make visible the great things that are happening.

2. Share Student Work

Sharing student work on social media instantly creates an authentic audience. It’s possible to share examples of digital products, projects, artwork, writing, and just about anything else.

3. Teach Digital Citizenship



There is so much to know to be a safe, responsible user of social media. We must teach digital citizenship. When we regularly use social media in the classroom, it provides more opportunities for learning about safe and responsible use.

4. Make Global Connections

Give students a sense of learning beyond classroom walls. Social media allows connections across the globe, perhaps with another classroom. These connections help students to see different perspectives and cultures.

5. Prepare Kids for the Future



Social media continues to grow and is now an excellent way to learn, build a professional network, and even get a job. Our students will be better prepared for future opportunities if they have experiences with social media that are for learning and professional reasons.

6. Promote Positive Messages

There are so many negatives on social media. That’s one reason some educators have been reluctant to engage. However, schools have an opportunity to lead to create a positive presence and help students create a positive presence. Make the positives so loud it drowns out the negative aspects of social media.

7. Connect with Experts




We don’t have to be dependent on textbooks anymore for information. It’s possible to connect with experts in every discipline. Classrooms are interacting with authors, scientists, astronauts, activists, and entrepreneurs. These connections are inspiring and authentic.




CLICK ON THE INFOGRAPHIC TO SHARE THIS ON TWITTER.

      

Read More 7 Reasons To Use Social Media In Your School (INFOGRAPHIC)





“Is there really a difference in student performance with technology compared to without technology? My students seem to be doing just fine without it.”



I guess that depends on how you define student performance and success. If success is measured only by a test score or by mastery of content, then perhaps students are successful without technology.



“My classes are always engaged and seem to do just fine without technology.”



I guess that depends on how you define engaged. I think it’s important for students to do things that reflect the world we live in, not the world we grew up in.



“I want to see the proof that technology improves learning before we purchase any new tech.”



Whether technology improves learning or not isn’t about the technology itself, but how teachers and students use the technology to improve learning. 



I hear many stories about failed technology initiatives in schools. The technology was not used to the fullest, or worse it was not used at all. The narrative is all too familiar. Little was done to gather input or get buy-in from stakeholders up front, and little was done to support the implementation after the fact. How many smartboards in this country are being used as glorified projector screens? Almost always, these types of failures are avoidable with proper planning and ongoing support. 



But is it really worth it to invest thousands for technology in schools. Is it reasonable to provide a connected device to every student? For years, I’ve asked my graduate students to think about technology purchases in their own schools. Did it really pay off to buy the technology? Did the technology allow something to be done that couldn’t be done before? Was the total cost of ownership considered? 



After all, most studies I’ve encountered don’t really support the idea that technology raises student achievement. Of course, student achievement in these studies is usually narrowly defined by test scores. One study I read concluded that technology even widens the achievement gap. It found that more privileged students tend to use the devices more often for learning, while less privileged students tend to use the devices for entertainment. 



In spite of these discouraging reports, I believe we need to look further before concluding that technology isn’t worth it. As schools consider spending for new technology, there needs to be a clear vision of what success will look like. We need to really explore why we are doing what we’re doing. In addition to the questions mentioned before, I would also suggest the following as food for thought.



1. Can we afford NOT to place up-to-date technology in the hands of our students?



Technology is how things get done in our modern world. We aren’t preparing students for the world we grew up in. We aren’t even preparing students to be successful in the world they grew up in. Our world is changing so fast, our students are going to have to be prepared for anything. That requires adaptability. And it will certainly also include adaptability with the use of technology. Those skills aren’t measured on standardized tests. They are measured in authentic situations where real work is being done. 



2. Is technology being used in ways that give students greater ownership of learning? Does technology result in a shift in agency to the learner?





It’s wise to think of technology in terms of value added. How does technology allow us to do something better than before? And, how is it allowing us to do something we couldn’t do before? There are many ways tech improves things we do or allows for new things. But some uses of technology take learning to the next level. These uses are game-changers.



I would like to see technology being used to create big shifts in learning. One of the biggest shifts is to create more authentic, student-driven learning experiences. Technology is a game changer when it is used to shift agency to the learner. It’s a game-changer when students take greater ownership of their learning.



So let’s consider interactive white boards. They have some possibilities for student agency I guess, but they are probably used more often for direct instruction, led by the teacher. That doesn’t mean we should stop using these tools altogether, but I do think we should strive for technology to be used in more authentic ways, where students are given voice and choice and are creating and solving problems.



The most powerful potential for a shift in agency is for students to have access to a connected device in a BYOD or 1:1 scenario. But access is not enough. Just like there are lots of interactive white boards being used as glorified projector screens, there are also lots of laptops being used as overpriced word processors.



To use technology to the fullest, we need leaders in our classrooms and schools who can facilitate a pedagogy that creates greater student ownership of learning. How we use the technology is the critical issue that determines whether the investment pays off or not. So whether you invest in iPads or Chromebooks or some other device, the key question to remember is how will this technology improve student learning?



Question: How do you know technology use is successful in your school? Is it worth the cost? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

      

Read More Making Technology Pay





“Is there really a difference in student performance with technology compared to without technology? My students seem to be doing just fine without it.”



I guess that depends on how you define student performance and success. If success is measured only by a test score or by mastery of content, then perhaps students are successful without technology.



“My classes are always engaged and seem to do just fine without technology.”



I guess that depends on how you define engaged. I think it’s important for students to do things that reflect the world we live in, not the world we grew up in.



“I want to see the proof that technology improves learning before we purchase any new tech.”



Whether technology improves learning or not isn’t about the technology itself, but how teachers and students use the technology to improve learning. 



I hear many stories about failed technology initiatives in schools. The technology was not used to the fullest, or worse it was not used at all. The narrative is all too familiar. Little was done to gather input or get buy-in from stakeholders up front, and little was done to support the implementation after the fact. How many smartboards in this country are being used as glorified projector screens? Almost always, these types of failures are avoidable with proper planning and ongoing support. 



But is it really worth it to invest thousands for technology in schools. Is it reasonable to provide a connected device to every student? For years, I’ve asked my graduate students to think about technology purchases in their own schools. Did it really pay off to buy the technology? Did the technology allow something to be done that couldn’t be done before? Was the total cost of ownership considered? 



After all, most studies I’ve encountered don’t really support the idea that technology raises student achievement. Of course, student achievement in these studies is usually narrowly defined by test scores. One study I read concluded that technology even widens the achievement gap. It found that more privileged students tend to use the devices more often for learning, while less privileged students tend to use the devices for entertainment. 



In spite of these discouraging reports, I believe we need to look further before concluding that technology isn’t worth it. As schools consider spending for new technology, there needs to be a clear vision of what success will look like. We need to really explore why we are doing what we’re doing. In addition to the questions mentioned before, I would also suggest the following as food for thought.



1. Can we afford NOT to place up-to-date technology in the hands of our students?



Technology is how things get done in our modern world. We aren’t preparing students for the world we grew up in. We aren’t even preparing students to be successful in the world they grew up in. Our world is changing so fast, our students are going to have to be prepared for anything. That requires adaptability. And it will certainly also include adaptability with the use of technology. Those skills aren’t measured on standardized tests. They are measured in authentic situations where real work is being done. 



2. Is technology being used in ways that give students greater ownership of learning? Does technology result in a shift in agency to the learner?





It’s wise to think of technology in terms of value added. How does technology allow us to do something better than before? And, how is it allowing us to do something we couldn’t do before? There are many ways tech improves things we do or allows for new things. But some uses of technology take learning to the next level. These uses are game-changers.



I would like to see technology being used to create big shifts in learning. One of the biggest shifts is to create more authentic, student-driven learning experiences. Technology is a game changer when it is used to shift agency to the learner. It’s a game-changer when students take greater ownership of their learning.



So let’s consider interactive white boards. They have some possibilities for student agency I guess, but they are probably used more often for direct instruction, led by the teacher. That doesn’t mean we should stop using these tools altogether, but I do think we should strive for technology to be used in more authentic ways, where students are given voice and choice and are creating and solving problems.



The most powerful potential for a shift in agency is for students to have access to a connected device in a BYOD or 1:1 scenario. But access is not enough. Just like there are lots of interactive white boards being used as glorified projector screens, there are also lots of laptops being used as overpriced word processors.



To use technology to the fullest, we need leaders in our classrooms and schools who can facilitate a pedagogy that creates greater student ownership of learning. How we use the technology is the critical issue that determines whether the investment pays off or not. So whether you invest in iPads or Chromebooks or some other device, the key question to remember is how will this technology improve student learning?



Question: How do you know technology use is successful in your school? Is it worth the cost? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

      

Read More Making Technology Pay

In a previous post, I shared some thoughts on technology integration and how tech in the classroom is too often an add-on or extra and not part of an authentic learning experience. In fact, technology is so vital in today’s world that it’s on par with the school library. It’s that important. Your community would never support getting rid of your library. Yet, some schools still don’t fully accept technology for learning. Some even ban it from the classroom.



But having technology is not enough. There are millions wasted every year on technology that goes largely unused or is implemented in ways that don’t really transform anything. 



Like the teacher I spoke with who had iPads available in her classroom, but hadn’t even turned them on. She didn’t know what to do with them. It would be easy to criticize her for allowing this to happen. But where was the support to help her know what to do with them? Who was there to work with her to learn about using them?



In most classrooms, the available technology is actually used, but not in ways to really transform learning. At best, it’s used as a hook to achieve greater engagement. At worst, it’s a canned program that simply delivers content. Neither of these scenarios results in a shift in agency to the learner. It doesn’t transform learning. If we want adaptable, self-directed learners, students need opportunities to use technology in authentic, transformational ways.



7 Ways Technology Can Transform Learning



1. Authentic Audience



It’s really sad that most work students do in school ultimately ends up in a trash can. The audience for their efforts is usually the teacher and maybe their classmates, but rarely is work shared beyond the school walls. By using digital tools it is possible to share work to a potentially unlimited audience, and it’s possible to curate the work so it’s available forever. Say goodbye to the trash can finish.



When students work for an authentic audience, it is potentially a game changer. Instead of just completing assignments in a manner that is “good enough” they now want the work to be just plain “good.” And how the work is received can provide excellent feedback. An authentic audience multiplies the possibilities for feedback. As any blogger can attest, having an audience changes everything, and really makes you think about your ideas.



2. Creativity



While technology is not necessary to be creative, access can facilitate many new ways to express ideas in original ways. Digital content is easily captured, shared, and combined as an outlet to creative thought. In short, digital tools give rise to more possibilities for creation and innovation.



3. 24/7 Learning



Access to a connected device makes it possible for learning to continue beyond the classroom. Sure I guess that sort of happened before. You took your textbook home to study, right? Well, some people did. But now learners have the sum of human knowledge available on their smartphone, anytime, anywhere. When I need to learn just about anything, one of my top sources is YouTube. It’s helped me repair our vacuum and help the kids with algebra homework. It’s a shame it’s blocked in so many schools. 



4. Global Connections



We learn so much more when we connect and share with others. Now we can connect with anyone in the world with minimal effort. It’s possible to learn directly from experts in the field. Classrooms can connect across oceans. Global connections allow us to see diverse perspectives and understand problems with implications beyond the local community.



5. Learner Agency



Technology provides opportunities for individual learning paths. Not everyone has to learn everything in the same time, in the same space, with the same lessons. Students can learn about things that are important to them, in ways that they choose. Technology allows for students to take greater ownership and be more self-directed. Learning is more meaningful when it is personal.



6. Collaboration and Communication



Technology is tranformational when it allows learners to work in teams, share ideas, and collaborate on new projects. Learner can work together and share ideas even when they are apart. Digital tools allow for amazing new ways to connect around sharing ideas and tasks.

7. Curiosity and Inquiry



Technology allows students to pursue answers to their own questions. True understanding doesn’t happen by memorizing facts or seeking right answers. Understanding is developed by developing questions, interpreting information, and drawing conclusions. Curiosity taps into a sense of wonder and makes learning come alive. Technology provides access to information and inspiration to magnify curiosity and inquiry.



Question: How will you use technology to transform learning in your classroom or school? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

      

Read More 7 Ways Technology Can Transform Learning (INFOGRAPHIC)