Monday, October 19, 2015

Let's Make Conference Proposals & Interviews Better

For the last month, I've been trying to wrap my mind around how people present themselves and why they make certain choices. This was prompted by three major efforts I've been making recently: 1st, trying to hire the best of the best to our awesome EdTech team; 2nd, working on reviewing National Conference Proposals; 3rd, working on reviewing ISTE Proposals.

I've always been fascinated with being on interview panels - admittedly, few people are at their best during an interview - it's stressful, and even moreso if you really want the job. And it's even more difficult when you're applying for a position that values collaboration above all else - how do you take credit for everything on your resume and balance that with a collaborative spirit....oh, and if you could let all of that shine through in 10 or fewer questions, that'd be super.

As I'm reading Conference Proposals, I'm coming across the same thing - how do you pitch yourself and your ideas without feeling like you're a fake, borrowing off others' ideas, pitching to an audience you don't know and allowing your authentic self come through all in one, small proposal.

So I guess this is my wish and wonder - can we PLEASE change these systems???

Here's my thought (albeit not original, but needed): Make conference proposal submitters pitch their ideas via video. Let's do this. Now. And, it should include references from 1-2 colleagues who've seen you present or seen your work.

And interviews? Let's allow video conferencing in, en masse. I was nearly turned down 4 years ago for a position because I was going to be in North Dakota for the final round of interviews...I was going to be teaching in North Dakota...the very reason I would bring value to the school to which I applied was going to turn me down because I couldn't be there face-to-face. I had to call and email everyone I knew to make a plea. But I was lucky cause I know who to ask - a luxury not most can afford. Let's just level the playing field already and accept video conferencing as a common means of communication.

And all interviews should include a practicum (something I'm proud that our team already does), but a very telling part of all interviews - don't tell me what you can do, show me.

And I'm happy to say that none of these ideas are uniquely my own, nor are they ones I've kept secret.

What other changes do you think should happen with proposals or interviews? Please share in the comments...

Monday, June 29, 2015

Getting All Global-y

I attended the Global Education Day #globaled15 yesterday and continued to enjoy the connections and conversations that developed. While I have attended the Global Education Conference in the past, I've never had a chance to attend this great opportunity at ISTE...until this year.

First, BIG shout-out (again) to Steve Hargadon (@stevehargadon) and Lucy Gray (@elemenous). There's nothing more energizing than meeting, working with and learning from Good People, and these two are just that: REALLY Good People.

Here's the awesome resources from the day with links to crowdsourced notes, people to follow on twitter and pretty amazing projects:

The first break-out I attended focused on Leadership, facilitated by Brandon Wiley, who authored a chapter in Leading the New Literacies. Here are some thoughts and reflections from our conversation:

  • Need for common academic language around global literacies, global competencies, etc.
  • Part of the role of a leader is to create a common vision of achievement / define the look-fors and clarity when implementing global education
  • Connecting through the heart / showing through example is the greatest motivator
    • How do we tell the stories to compel the imperative of global education (yes, is not just a luxury)
    • Global citizenship is being a global friend
  • Critical to bring in parents and school community
  • Seek the community resources out first - leverage your community to help your mission
  • #GlobalEdChat on Thur on Twitter
  • Participants who have a lot to offer (that isn't to say others did not - therse are just the names I got) :)


  • Facilitated by Deboarh Havert of and
  • Students who are coming to us without perseverance or grit - what can we do?
  • Ask students "do you think you added to the community through your actions?" 
  • Help students addres and think about intent vs. impact
  • A TED Talk Recommended: Are you Multitasking Your Life Away? Dr. Clifford Nass

While there were many tools highlighted that I'd love to explore more deeply, they are all listed in the link above (at

My favorite, though, was The Wonderment. When you open their webpage, you're met with the statement "Come on an adventure to create a world of good." Filled with fantastic resources for parents and teachers, I don't want to give too much away because I really, Really, REALLY want you to experience their website for yourself. Teachers, you can head on over to The Wonder Guides for more explicit ways to integrate this work in your classes.

And after all, aren't we all just trying to create a world of good?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

HackEd 2015 - PBL and Social Media

I attended the HackEd Unconference at ISTE yesterday and it reminded me why I'm in education. BIG shout-out to Steve Hargadon (@stevehargadon) for organizing this year after year.

The two sessions I was able to attend were one PBL, Technology and Assessment and on the use of Social Media with Students.

First observation - there was a very different, but equally passionate tenor to both groups.

PBL, Tech & Assessment

Some questions that arose in our PBL group that I'd love to get wider responses to include:

  • What strategies are being used successfully to integrate PBL with Advanced Placement classes?
  • What strategies do you use to help parents and the school community (including other teachers) to understand that, even though they/we have been successful in a sit-and-get structure of school, that's not good enough and we must do more and better now? (With an underlying understanding that PBL is one strategy to achieve this.)
Some tips and suggestions that I thought were particularly helpful included one high school English teacher who expressed that he began to integrate PBL into his class mid-year, and as such, he found that there were three things that worked for him:
  1. Start small
  2. Look for a small win first
  3. Look for and celebrate achievement in a big way from that small win
These three steps can then be built upon. Basically, scaffold the boots off it (my words, not his).

Also, Problem-Based Learning is embedded within Project-Based Learning.

Don't get bogged down in the terminology - if students are doing a kick-@ss job of 6 out of the 8 steps of Project-Based Learning, celebrate it! And then improve.

Social Media with Students

  • Social media essentially teaches global empathy - if you can do that in a way other than using social media, more power to ya!
  • We need to empathize with teachers who are reticent to use social media with students and not ostracize nor shame them - that runs counter-intuitive to the whole point of building connections via social media. Don't be a hypocrite.
  • There are different legal ramifications and ears on the parts of teachers and technical staff, and it is imperative that we have cross-departmental/branch teams to help everyone get to a common understanding and feel as though they have a voice.

After all, learning is social, and if we're making choices in isolation, we're not really learning anything at all, are we?

* When referring to Project-Based Learning, I'm referring to Buck Institute of Education's PBL Model - the bible of PBL, so to speak.

Back in the Saddle's been nearly two years since I blogged last. Since I'm at ISTE and already have too many ideas swirling already (for those who are #notatiste15, it hasn't even officially begun, but the pre-networking opportunities are so rich), now's as good a time as any to get back on the proverbial wagon. So with that...

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Unpacking the TPACK

Before you tell me that you don’t want me anywhere near your backpack or your TPACK, let me explain. TPACK is simply a framework and yet another acronym that we can use in education. Except this acronym really matters (like all the others). According to, “The TPACK framework extends Shulman’s idea of Pedagogical Content Knowledge.” Props to Dr. Matthew Koehler, the editor of and many other publications around and about TPACK.
But it’s best to show, not tell, so here’s a nice, clean image that shows you exactly what TPACK is.

Reproduced by permission of the publisher, © 2013 by

See that spot in the middle where it all intersects? That’s the sweet spot. I’ve seen lots of explanations about what good teaching is, and lots of the definitions talk about balancing various parts of teaching and learning. But I like to use this framework, and I add my own perspective that the dotted purple line, circling the entire graphic, is relationships.
Practical Use
I find that introducing TPACK to teachers is really useful when beginning any technology integration training or online course. Helping all educators understand that it is not that any one of these elements superceded the others, but rather they are all interconnected in meaningful ways seems to help put words (and an image) to something that we all struggle with: how does tech, pedagogy and content play nicely together?
Try asking teachers, or yourself, to look at one or more lessons of study and rate how heavily they (or you) rely on one section over another. The goal is balance. For instance, think about a lesson on the novel, The Great Gatsby, how much of the instruction and assessments rely on content knowledge? How much meaningful integration and intersection is there of each of these sections?
In another vein, consider using this framework to address our own comfort levels with integrating technology. What is your strongest area of context? Pedagogical-Content? Where might you do well to improve your own skills and integrate all the contexts in a balanced way?
More Resources
Register for a free account on to access great resources on the TPACK Academy page
Follow updated information about TPACK on Twitter
Follow more updated information about TPACK on Google+

  • This post was cross-posted from the resource-building that I do with Sony, Inc., located at - please visit there for more information and great suggestions from other ambassadors across the United States.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Chromecast at Last! My (Sort Of) Unbiased Review

I typically don't suffer from shiney-new-techy gadget syndrome: purchasing the newest, latest and greatest as soon as it hits the market, but as fate would have it, I happened to be watching the Google Press Meeting on July 24, 2013 when the Chromecast was $35. And while I may not suffer from SNTG Syndrome, I am a sucker for something that seems like a good deal.

BORING DISCLOSURE ALERT: In the interest of full disclosure, I am a Google Certified Teacher, but these blog posts are my own and of my own opinion and I don't get paid for anything I write here.

The Chromescast was packaged in a tidy little box with an IKEA-esque set of directions. Essentially, plug it in, turn your TV to the correct source and follow the on-screen instructions. You just have to make sure that your device and your Chromecast are on the same wi-fi network, which isn't difficult when using this from your home. And that's how it worked. Shocking.

Initially, casting anything, whether from YouTube, Google Videos or Netflix, the reception was choppy and not at all smooth. But that wasn't really the Chromecast's fault -  I discovered that our router was kind of old and we had needed a new one for a while. Once we got a new router, it worked like a charm.

You may have to play with the display ratio when casting a Chrome browser tab so as to see the entire screen, but it was fast and smooth.

Some people have been comparing the Chromecast to the AppleTV, and I'd like to address a couple of those comparisons.

  • CHROMECAST WIN. You can't compare the price. $35 is a steal and I LOVE not having yet another piece of equipment to drag with me when traveling. I can fit the Chromecast in my pocket. So I guess that's a double-win - price and size.
  • APPLE TV WIN (WITH CHROMECAST EXPECTED TO GET THERE). Yes, you can reflect your entire screen with an Apple TV, and that's definitely a bonus, but casting a Chrome browser tab is pretty useful, considering that most of what I do is web-based, anyway. And it's not like I can't plug in my Apple TV and my Chromecast - the TV doesn't implode or anything - they plug into slots next to each other and play just fine. (I also wouldn't be surprised in Google came out with full screencasting capabilities using the Chromecast in due time, as well.)
  • CHROMECAST WIN. I love that you can use Android AND iOS devices to cast using the Chromecast. Anything that increases my ability to be platform agnostic and use whatever works for that time or activity is a BIG win for me.
  • APPLE TV WIN. Apple TV simply has more capabilities right now, but again, that mostly has to do with its ability to screencast. One of the nice feature is the ability to reflect multiple iOS devices on the same screen. If Chromecast could do that, it would be a whole new picture-in-picture experience!
  • CHROMECAST WIN. Perhaps I'm not just a savvy Apple TV user, but casting what's on my phone, tablet or Chrome browser tab is as easy as switching the TV channel, and the same can't be said for Apple TV. The Apple TV has its own remote (which is tiny and easily lost), and that's a danger in our home.

YOU KNOW WHAT'D BE AWESOME? At some point, I'd love to see the ability to project a device and watch live TV at the same time. Think: watching your favorite TV program and having a split screen and on the other side of your screen, you can get more information about something you just saw on TV, thereby deepening your understanding. Not quite like Google TV, but better. If there's something out there like this already, let me know!

AND ANOTHER THING. Stop asking what the educational use is about new technologies that come out. We're trying to bridge the gap between life and education. More and more, questions asking about "educational use" have more to do with "how can I lock this down" and less to do with the powerful things you CAN do with technology. Let's explore those possibilities first, k? Then, we can talk about responsible behavior.

So far, so good. I like it. It does what I want it to do and for the size and price, it makes it a big winner for me.

ON A PERSONAL NOTE, one of biggest practical advantages is that I can finally show my mom how to search on YouTube for exactly the thing she wants to see. It's hard to train someone while sharing a laptop, and when you use the Apple TV, there's no ability to show the actual browser interface as she would use it - on the "real computer" (not those flat tablet thingys). So being able to show her exactly the kind of tab she would look at on her own is incredibly helpful. Now she can watch all the Laughing Baby videos she wants and I can show her how to search for them...

Friday, April 12, 2013

Project Your Android Tablet in a Browser

Not all tablets and computers are created equal. And they don't always play nicely with each other. As an educator, this can be infuriating. I'm trying to teach our kids and their teachers, and I'm constantly running into blockades that prevent me from being able to seamlessly present cross-platform products. I just want to teach and for my students to learn.
Thankfully, I was able to find a way to integrate my multi-platform system to present both my Android-running Sony Xperia tablet AND my other (shall remain nameless) tablet...simultaneously. My laptop does not have an HDMI port, so using an HDMI cable was not doable. However, by downloading the app, VMLite VNC Server, I was able to easily reflect my Sony Xperia screen directly into a tab on my browser (note: the browser must be HTML5), with nothing more than a USB cable to connect to the computer itself.
Step One: Download the app onto your Android tablet
Step Two: Go to to download the free program onto your computer or laptop that you would like to project from and follow the instructions provided
Step Three: Connect your tablet to your computer
Step Four: Open the VMLite program on your computer
Step Five: Follow the instructions on the pop-up window to set particular preferences and connect your tablet
Step Six: Open the app on your tablet, click Start and follow the remainder of the instructions on your computer
A new tab will open in your browser that you can reference, keep open and project when you want. I also like to have my other tablet wirelessly projecting using another product at the same time. They really can all play together nicely.
Please see my screencast for step-by-step instructions on how to create this same experience for you and your students.

  • This post was cross-posted from the resource-building that I do with Sony, Inc., located at - please visit there for more information and great suggestions from other ambassadors across the United States.