Sunday, December 16, 2012

Weekly Diigo Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Weekly Diigo Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Weekly Diigo Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Weekly Diigo Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Weekly Diigo Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Moving forward

Started this post several weeks ago then put it on the back burner while I was out doing professional learning classes. Of course, what I observed during this time, were groups of enthusiastic educators ready to grow.  However, to make a difference this needs to be the norm not the exception. The 20th century is still impacting our move forward to 21st century learning.
Here are some facts:
Schools still block and filter. Instead of trying to understand it block it, filter it and make no effort to attempt to learn the technology. What is right for our students should be the main focus.
Schools still allow teachers to use excuses such as" I don't do technology" or "Wikipedia is of no educational value." These "educators" are still out there preaching they are on board yet still need help opening a new tab or cutting and pasting. According to Scott McLeod "What hope do these teachers have of providing meaningful, technology-rich learning experiences for their students? What hope do these leaders have of creating and adequately supporting powerful, technology-rich learning environments for students and staff? Little to none."
Most cell phone policies require teachers to confiscate them if they see them or "put them in this bucket while I teach the class mentality." Another form of blocking, instead of maximizing this tool through poll everywhere, Evernote or other apps.
Students in most schools power down for the day when they enter school. In the 21st century we need to give students the tools and get out of their way. Then amazing things happen.
Students despite career aspirations still must take whatever the school offers despite the vast availability of online courses. Are we limiting student access to just what we know?
We are twelve years into the 21st century, how can we move beyond the outdated methods of the last century? My solution is we move forward together with more collaboration, communication and conversation which should lead to more creativity.
What are your solutions?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Weekly Diigo Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My Favorite Apps and Websites (Part 2)

Here is Part 2 of my list of favorite apps and websites.

Twitter-  My 24/7 Professional Learning tool resource. I connect with innovative minds from around the globe.This is the one tool I utilize each and every day and you should too.

Zite- An app and a website that allows you to select categories, for me Education, Professional Development, Gardening and Zite searches the Web for related articles. Then the articles are presented to you in newspaper format. Zite searches the Web so you don't have to.

Blogs/ Wikis- These are the two tools that I utilize the most over the last several years. I'm still amazed that more educators aren't aware of the potential for these tools in the classroom. We have created these in every Professional learning class I've taught for the last five years and I enjoy watching these new bloggers progress each year.
For wikis, I use PBWorks, however wikispaces is very similar.
For blogs, I use blogger but Wordpress  and EduBlogs are good platforms too.
Google Reader- Part of the Google set of tools. It aggregates all the blogs I follow and informs me when there's a new post to read. Si instead of going to each and every blog to search for new posts, I go to Google Reader and it's all there for me. Another tool I use frequently.

New Apps
Songify- Speak and the app transforms the words into a song.
Photoshop Express- A great app for editing photos from your phone

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Weekly Diigo Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

My Favorite Apps and Websites (Part 1)

Here is a list of my favorite, most used apps and websites. I originally had 10 but the number keeps increasing so I'll blog about the rest next week. Enjoy and feel free to add to the list by way of comments.

Evernote- I use this cloud based app from my phone and also on my laptop. When I see content I can use in my presentations, I'll upload it to my Evernote notebook. Then it synchs to the website where it can be viewed on my laptop. I like the back and forth functionality between my phone and laptop.

Bump- This is an I Phone or Android app that allows you to "bump" with another phone to pass pictures or other information to that phone. Yes you could text or email them but this is the 21st century way. So much for business cards.

Dropbox- Another cloud based free app for the phone and laptop. This service lets you store pictures, videos or documents and access them from anywhere. Like Evernote I love being able to synch between multiple devices. Basically, accessible storage for your documents, pictures, etc.

Diigo- A great website that allows you to save a website or article in the clouds. When I see an interesting article but don't have the time to read it, I save it to Diigo instead of the bookmark section of the computer I'm using. In doing so I can access it on any laptop later when I'm not as busy. Diigo also allows you to share your bookmarks with others which I do through this blog.

Pandora- An app and a website my sons were using and I eventually tried. It's totally free music, with periodic ads. Want to listen to smooth jazz, yes you can. Foo Fighters, ditto. Even the oldies are there. Program what you want to hear and listen, it's that simple. For me it's great for the treadmill but when my son makes the long drive home from college, he uses it as a radio station. No more searching the dial trying to find music you like.

Part 2 of the list is coming soon.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Weekly Diigo Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Weekly Diigo Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Will this be the year?

As another school year begins across the country, here are questions we, as educators, need to ask ourselves.Will this be the year?
Will this be the year we utilize 21st century tools like Twitter, blogs, wikis and Google. Or will we continue to live in the last century, hindering our students progress in real world skills?
Will we incorporate the 4 C's of the 21st Century, Collaboration, Conversation, Communication and Creativity? Or will we emphasize rote memorization, lecture and standardized multiple choice tests?
Will this be the year we finally create a professional learning network of like minded educators from around the world? Or will we close the door again and be satisfied for what we learn from the teacher's lounge?
Will this be the year we transform our classroom to a student centered culture of learning? Or will we remain teacher centered, limiting the student's learning to just what we know?
Will  this be the year we actually begin teaching our children the responsible and ethical use of technology? Or will we continue to make excuses such as a lack of time, too difficult and it's not safe?
Finally, will we adopt professional learning as an integral part of our plan for success? Or will we show up, go through the motions and say wait till next year?
Hopefully this will be the year, the tipping point, where we venture out and accept the challenges of 21st century education.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Weekly Diigo Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Insights for 21st century leadership

This post is my annual contribution to Scott McLeod's Leadership Day Challenge.

Through my 35 years in education, I have worked with a number of effective school leaders.(Some really ineffective ones too but that's for another post.) My current position as an ed tech consultant, allows me to work with multiple schools, teaching teachers about integrating tech into their classroom and collaborating with school leaders about the challenges they face. There are several noticeable similarities among effective 21st century leaders.
Successful 21st century leadership revolves around the four C's : Conversation, Communication, Collaboration and Creativity.
Conversation- There is no hesitancy among effective leaders to discuss educational matters that deal with what is best for the students. Leaders and teachers are able to rationalize why they do things a certain way. If the answer is" that's the way its always been done" more conversation is needed. 21st century leaders have those conversations frequently.
Communication- Effective 21st century leaders are excellent communicators. They utilize whatever means necessary to spread their vision. They blog, they tweet, they have a Facebook page. They communicate their message to their clientele whether it be parents, teachers, students or others through multiple modes and are comfortable in doing so. With poor communicators, there is sometimes a vacuum of information access which leads to misinformation. Effective leaders fill that vacuum with their own vision.
Collaboration- Effective21st century leaders not only work together with their teachers, they seek out and collaborate with like minded professionals, their peers. The smartest person in the room is the room. The best way to come up with a great idea is to sift through a dozen good ideas. There is no hesitancy to reach out to peers or teachers to solve problems. They believe in team.
Creativity- Effective 21st century leaders find a way. They think outside the box. They are not afraid to fail, reflect on their experience and move on to solving the problem. They aren't bogged down by 20th century rhetoric or policies. They seek to solve 21st century problems with unique and innovative thought from this century. They embrace innovation and in effect, stifle adequacy.
The most effective leaders have high levels of expertise with all four components. They may not have mastered the skills but they are part of the learning cycle. They are continuing to grow.
The wealth of resources currently available to leaders is mind boggling and it keeps expanding. As educators, we need to take advantage of these opportunities and cultivate a culture of effective 21st century leaders.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Monday, July 30, 2012

Transforming teaching and attitudes

*This is also cross posted at
as part of the Back to School Ed Tech series.

Sometimes those of us in the ed tech community tend to think about transformative education coming from the top, those schools with 1:1 or BYOD programs already in place. However, this year as I collaborated with several schools through professional learning classes and seminars, I realized transformation can occur even in the beginning stages of incorporating technology.
There are vast differences that still exist between schools in the area of educational technology. I've worked with schools ready to implement 1:1 with a clear vision and plan for the future and other schools whose vision was less clear due to monetary restrictions or other hindrances. Despite the disparity, there are similarities between the groups. What is best for the student is still of utmost importance. It's the main reason most of us chose this profession, we care! Most teachers realize we are in the 21st century and our pedagogy should revolve around skills such as Conversation, Communication, Collaboration and Creativity.
What stood out to me most though were the attitudes before and after the introduction of new tools . Both groups had teachers totally on board with technology, ready to grow and also a group of resistors, stuck in the 20th century and hesitant to change. However, once the web tools were demonstrated as a way to help the teachers, most realized the potential to bring about better engagement with their students.
Whether it was in a technology rich environment with Smart Boards and wireless or a school with one computer in each classroom, the reaction was the same, "show us more." We can't believe how easy this is." Web tools such as blogs, wikis or even something like Screencast-O-Matic or Prezi produced excitement for transforming not only their classroom culture but also their attitudes towards better 21st century methods.
An elementary teacher from a school with limited technology resources, loved that a blog could help her facilitate communication with her parents. An English teacher from the same school, saw wikis as a way to enhance collaboration among her students. On the other end of the spectrum, History teachers from a school initiating a 1:1 program in 2013, were excited to learn about about Google docs and forms as a way of creating student writing portfolios and moving from teacher centered to a student centered classroom..

These teachers are beginning the process of changing their attitudes and moving their classrooms into the 21st century. The journey of transforming teaching is a process and there will be more challenges in the future. These teachers are part of my PLN now and I look forward to supporting them as they begin to realign their teaching strategies. The transformation won't occur immediately, once school begins "life comes at you fast" but if we continue to collaborate, the classroom culture will be transformed.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Be a Solutionist

Be a solutionist
“Persist and you shall succeed” was a saying I heard early and often in my educational career and this habit of the mind was of paramount importance to me. Whether it was my parents or teachers early in life or my colleagues later in life modeling that behavior, I became a disciple of persistence. This quality provided me with the ability to search for alternative solutions and not become flustered when the initial strategy was unsuccessful. I learned early on in education you not only may need plan B but C, D and sometimes E.
As I began focusing on this blog entry, I realized examples of persistence and the lack of it are everywhere. 
Teachers who dismiss technology as something that isn’t necessary and couldn’t possibly enhance their instruction could be an example of a lack of persistence. They have tried it, encountered adversity and surrender to the past. Yet they expect their students to continue the effort and” give it your best.” Does the teacher work through daily problems or do they become disconcerted when obstacles to learning enter the classroom?
Teachers, and parents, must continually model persistence for it to carry over to our students.
This is a higher level skill that must first be observed, then taught and reinforced through problem solving activities. Teaching students to persist requires teaching them to understand. Students need to be active participants in the learning process and this requires our instruction to include relevant, engaging performance tasks which sometimes necessitate thinking outside the realm of the textbook. Simplicity resides in most texts, for true understanding we must teach outside the text.
It is frustrating when this stick-to-it-tiveness seems to be lacking in the current generation of students (or teachers). To overcome this, we too must become solutionists and find ways to challenge and motivate our students (and peers) towards acquiring this necessary habit of the mind.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Diigo Weekly Resource Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Diigo Weekly Resource Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Diigo Weekly Resource Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Diigo Weekly Resource Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Diigo Weekly Resource Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Technology changing the lives of college students

I found these stats on an infographic on Twitter the other day. It related how technology is changing the lives of college students. Here are a few of the pertinent stats:
73% of college students say they can't study without technology.
70% use keyboards or tablets to take notes not paper.
12 million college students take one or more online classes.
Digital Textbooks cost 40% less than regular textbooks.

Interesting to say the least. The push back I encounter against technology has always been we need to prepare students for the next level(college). Well it would seem, the next level has already arrived in the 21st century.
What does this mean for the way we prepare our students for the college? Shouldn't our goal be that our students experience as much college level training while still in high school? If they encounter adversity, we are there to guide and counsel. However, with the increase in technology at the next level, are we accomplishing that goal?
Can we continue to utilize 20th century methodology such as paper, pencils, long lectures and teacher centered classrooms or can we finally begin the journey, as some schools have done, into the 21st century? The wave of change moves closer and closer. The next move is up to you.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Monday, April 30, 2012

Resources You Can Use in the Classroom

Resources from the last two weeks

Twitter explained- Mom this is how twitter works by Jessica Hische

Celly- Create your own network in the classroom for text messages in 5 easy steps

Poplet- A creative platform for sharing ideas, mind mapping collaborative tool

The Math Doctor You Tube Channel- Another resource for students and teachers when challenged with a math concept.

Shakespeare Animated- Think YouTube for Shakespeare

60 Inspiring examples of utilizing Twitter in the classroom- Some great ideas for Twitter in the classroom

Searchy Pants- A safe Internet search engine for elementary students

Want to be a Google Certified teacher? Click here to begin the journey.

Tips to staying motivated in May- from Cool Cat Teacher

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Wave of Change

I thought I'd share some of the real life challenges that come up for discussion in my professional learning classes. Math instruction and math homework seem to be two of the most popular topics for discussion. How do we as educators, ensure that homework doesn't become part of a situation like this?
Assignment: do problems 2-20.  The students understand problems 2-8 but the other 12 become increasingly more complex. The student attempts to solve them but completes the assignment with a feeling of  "I hate Math, I just don't understand." Of course the next day in class, problems are explained and everything is fine until more homework is assigned and the cycle repeats.
Both of my children are good math students but it doesn't come naturally to them, they have to work at it. Algebra II is way over my head and evidently the skills to explain math have vacated my memory bank also so most of the time I'm no help. Here's how we cope or as I like to say "solutionize" when faced with the above scenario.
When "we" don't understand a concept, we first go to the lesson notes and completed problems posted online (thank goodness the teacher is a 21st century educator.)  If that doesn't remedy the situation, we're not through trying, Khan Academy is next or YouTube or a new app called ShowMe. Videos explaining similar problems usually help our understanding to the point that they provide some relief. 21st century solutions for the problems at hand. Bottom line- what is hopefully being learned along with math, is a higher order 21st century skill, finding new information and then leveraging that information to solve problems. In the 20th century, a tutor might have been needed to reteach the subject matter but now the student can access the information to learn for himself.
This type of resource wasn't widely available four years ago and even now when I talk with educators, most are unaware these resources exist. Professional learning needs to be focused on the utilization of 21st century tools and the teacher becoming more of a facilitator than the "sage on the stage."
The wave of change is in motion and the speed is increasing. What are you doing to prepare our students for this eventuality.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Enjoy these resources for the classroom.

The Spark Notes You Tube Channel

Lesson Plan activities for your Smart Board

Cacoo- user friendly online drawing tool that allows you to create a variety of diagrams such as site maps, wire frames and network charts.

Quizlet- online flash cards

Ted Ed You Tube Channel- Great selection of videos

Tube Chop- allows you to easily chop a funny or interesting section from any YouTube video and share it.

The wikipedia maze game- great way to search topics

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Case for Wikipedia

As I was skimming through Google Reader for classroom blogs recently, I noticed one with this assignment.
Geography Power Point:
Please feel free to use any source except Wikipedia for this project. Wikipedia is not the most reliable source and for this reason the middle and high school are not allowed to use this in their research.
Of course being a 21st century educator, this immediately caught my eye for two reasons. Power Point? Not the most creative tool but I halfway understand the rationale. I always recommend allowing the students to choose their own way of creating presentations. Why restrict the presentation to Power Point when there are a multitude of options available?The Wikipedia reference really made me wonder if 21st century education is really understood here? Are other encyclopedias banned too?My stance on Wikipedia is it's a great first resource for a student or teacher with very little information on a topic. Wikipedia shouldn't be used as the only resource but it is helpful for first searches. Of course teaching our students to find information is only part of our mission. Teaching them to validate, leverage and problem solve with the information is of more importance. If nothing else, they can utilize the info from Wikipedia and attempt to validate the info with other sources.
According to Wikipedia:
" it is the ideal place to start research and get a global picture of a topic, however, it is not an authoritative source. In fact, we recommend that students check the facts they find in Wikipedia against other sources. Additionally, it is generally good research practice to cite an original source when writing a paper, or completing an exam. It's usually not advisable, particularly at the university level, to cite an encyclopedia."
Wikipedia is more than a decade old. Currently Wikipedia is focusing more on quality than growth as most contributors are lovers of knowledge who have a real desire to improve the quality of the entry.The main issue for me is students face an abundance of information already and our main emphasis should be to guide them through this sea and teach them critical thinking skills such as evaluation and analysis.Banning and filtering didn't work years ago with You Tube, blogs or other 21st century tools, banning Wikipedia is missing the point. Of course that's my opinion and it's debatable but it is the 21st century and has been for over a decade and that point is indisputable.
Check out this info graphic on Wikipedia

Friday, March 9, 2012

The time of the season

The transition to Spring temperatures, Daylight Savings Time and the need to be outside after spending the Winter inside has arrived. Young children are pushed by overzealous parents who involve them with activities without regard to school schedules or the need for structure. Routine is non existent which is not always detrimental, but at this time of the year it can be. Students seem distracted, bored and disinterested in learning.
Older students view it as a time to prepare for Spring Break, prom and even summer vacation instead of focusing on the next lecture or monotonous activity. Can you blame them?
This is the time of the year where great teachers excel and mediocre teachers have issues. As a principal, I knew this time of the year separated teachers into two groups: the merely good or average and the truly great.
Great teachers know now is the time more than ever for engaging, relevant lessons, mediocre teachers rehash the past and then bemoan the lack of control they seem to have over these non motivated students.
The main difference between 20th century education and 21st century education is the need for teacher relevance. Technology helps us maintain relevance with our students. With this relevance, we are then capable of sustaining the learning experience through this transitional time of the year. Without it, the remainder of the year will be a series of step backs and issues followed by a frenzied rush to the end of the school year.
Now is the time to refocus our energies, collaborate with our peers and create new methods for engaging our students.
Spring Break is only weeks away, then the fun truly begins.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Transform teaching to the 21st century

Ready to transform your teaching to the 21st century? Still hesitant even though more than a decade has passed since we entered this new century? Can we at least take some small steps toward the goal?
Here is a solution- Start with the projects you assign. You know those posters, dioramas and other pseudo creative assignments which occur all too often. Commit to add a 21st century component to any project you assign that requires work at home. Not just using the internet to research but a higher level skill, one that incorporates Web 2.0 tools.
For instance, here's one that was assigned my son last week. This project required a poster board sized neighborhood map in Spanish, complete with streets, schools, stores and houses, drawn out and labeled. Nothing wrong with the project but pretty much a 20th century assignment. How can we turn this into a 21st century assignment? Simple just utilize QR codes. These quick response codes enable more than just streets and stores labeled by name. Now scanning the QR code can reveal pictures and a true history of the area complete with videos. Or for collages, why continue to use poster board? Utilize Glogster to create an interactive Glog or MovieMaker to create a video.
For more resources on 21st century learning check out the other posts on this blog.
21st century teaching requires student engagement through collaboration, communication and creativity. It's definitely time to bring our assignments to that level of engagement also.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Can parents opt out of homework?

This article came across my Twitter feed from Alfie Kohn and I thought it would make for interesting discussion.
This is a letter from a first grade parent opting her child out of homework for the year. She details her view by relating that she, as a parent, will be involved with her child's education at home and will support the teacher but will not require her child to do homework.
I have many thoughts on the issue but I'll ask the questions first.
How would you handle this situation? Would your answer be different if this were from a Middle or Upper School parent? Can parents opt their child out of homework?
 Let me know what you think?
Here's the link:

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Professional Learning Saturday

Today was another instance of the ready availability of professional development.
I am always looking for innovative ways of teaching with technology in the 21st century. I had planned to attend the annual Teach Meet Ga unconference (#TMGA12) in Atlanta on the 21st but had to reprioritize my schedule at the last minute. Bad news in the 20th century but because this century is more about connecting and collaborating, I was able to attend virtually from the comfort of my living room. A good portion of the day, I watched the Live Stream of the conference online and even connected through the twitter #hashtag to see what everyone was learning. Most of the speakers I already follow on twitter or RSS so it was good to hear them live. I came away with a plethora of innovative ideas and tools just as if I had attended the conference in person. Some of these I will redeliver to a class I am teaching Monday on "Engaging Students in the 21st Century." Just a great Saturday of professional learning in the 21st century. One of the actual attendees actually commented on Twitter that she ha just spent" $800 to attend another conference but this one was so much better."
Here's the question, if professional learning is this convenient why do teachers still not take advantage of the opportunities available?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Had a great time with a dedicated group of educators yesterday at Piedmont Academy.
Glad to have them as part of my PLN. Looking forward to going back next week.

Mr. Gerry Kosater

There are two paths you can choose but there's always time to change the one you choose