What did you do this summer? (233:365)

source: found on twitter thanks to Robert Zywicki!

source: found on twitter thanks to Robert Zywicki!

I was looking for inspiration on twitter (a common occurrence) about back to school and I came across this comic shared by Robert Zywicki. Many teachers either already have (school has started for countless districts) or plan to ask the children this age old question….

What did you do this summer?

This assignment, usually written, has been a staple for teachers since, well, probably the dawn of “school.” Now things have changed, a curve ball of sorts. Ask a ‘connected’ child and you may very well get “If you followed me on twitter, instagram, google+, etc you would know.”

How would you respond? How would you alter the assignment? How would you use that interaction to take the assignment in a whole new way?

What did you do this summer?

What will you do different this year? (232:365)

source: www.lumunos.org

source: www.lumunos.org

Each year we welcome a unique group of students into our buildings. For some schools, the complexity of the students doesn’t change much at all. For others, it could be 40%, 50% or 60% new students, not to mention there is always a new grade level entering.

With all this newness, I feel it is our job as educators to challenge ourselves to try something new, different. Why? Not just change for the sake of change, but more so because we have a blank slate, an opportunity not afforded to most industries, we can start over.

So what will you do differently? It is easy to ask that question two weeks before the school year starts, but the answer lies in knowing who your new learners are, and what they will need. It might cause you to do something different.



Guest post by Mark Barnes

via: Corwin.com/connectededucators

via: Corwin.com/connectededucators


Ask any of the thousands of teachers who regularly use Twitter, Pinterest, or Facebook about connected education, and you may get an earful about using digital tools as a means to connect with educators and students worldwide.

But if you ask teachers who have never used a social network, blog, or mobile device for learning in their classrooms to discuss connected education, you are likely to be met with blank stares, furrowed eyebrows and shrugged shoulders.

Enter Corwin Press and the Connected Educators Series.

In an effort to connect all teachers, EdWeek author and Corwin editor Peter DeWitt enlisted the help of his professional learning network (PLN) in order to launch a series of books on digital learning, digital leadership, mobile learning, digital citizenship, and everything else that is connected education.

It is our hope and intent to meet you where you are in your digital journey, and elevate you as educators to the next level. Peter DeWitt, Connected Educators Series Editor

Corwin’s Connected Educators Series features short books, about 70 pages, in both paperback and electronic formats, aimed at helping educators improve classroom practice and educational leadership in the digital world, something that has been sorely missing in the education book world.

The first books in the series will be published in August and September.

Corwin Connected Educators Series

The Relevant Educator: How Connectedness Empowers Learning, by Tom Whitby and Steven Anderson: Two of the profession’s most connected educators explain how to effectively use social media to build a professional learning network.

Flipped Leadership Doesn’t Mean Reinventing the Wheel, by Peter DeWitt: If we can flip the classroom, why can’t we flip faculty meetings and other kinds of communication with parents and teachers? According to DeWitt, we can.

Connected Educator Series

Connected Educators Series

The Edcamp Model: Powering Up Professional Learning, by The Edcamp Foundation: Professional development has never been so simple than when teachers create it. The Edcamp model connects educators to PD like never before.

Teaching the iStudent: A Quick Guide to Using Mobile Devices and Social Media in the K-12 Classroom, by Mark Barnes: Knowledge is in the palm of learners’ hands, making them iStudents. This book helps teachers understand how to maximize this incredible power.

The Corwin Connected Educators series is your key to unlocking the greatest resource available to all educators: other educators.

Connected Leadership: It’s Just a Click Away, by Spike Cook: In the 21st-century, it’s critical that principals create a transparent school for all stakeholders. Principal Cook shows school leaders how to author blogs, PLNs and more, in order to open up a digital window to your school for parents and community.

All Hands on Deck: Tools for Connecting Educators, Parents, and Communities, by Brad Currie: The connected educator doesn’t just connect with students and colleagues. She connects with parents and community, using 21st-century tools. Currie shows readers how this is done.

Empowered Schools, Empowered Students: Creating Connected and Invested Learners, by Pernille Ripp: Connecting also means empowering. Ripp shares a variety of methods for teachers and school leaders to empower colleagues and students to help each other build a strong learning community.

The Power of Branding: Telling Your School’s Story, by Tony Sinanis and Joseph Sanfelippo: Connected educators must teach students about digital citizenship, and what better way to teach this lesson, according to administrators Sinanis and Sanfelippo, than by showing students how to brand their own schools?

These eight books are the first in Corwin’s ongoing Connected Educators Series. Several more are currently in production and scheduled for publication in early 2015.

For updates, author biographies and other valuable information, visit the Corwin Connected Educators Series website here.

You can order Any books in the Connected Educators Series here. Let us know what you think and what you’d like to see next.

So many teachers doing so many good things! (230:365)

source: mastersprogramnews.blogspot.com

source: mastersprogramnews.blogspot.com

In August I have been able to attend a few conferences. During these sessions, I have witnessed so many awesome teachers (and admins) presenting about things they are doing in their class for their students.

Whether they are sharing apps, websites, or various techniques to increase learning opportunities for students, these teachers (and admins) are focused, united and dedicated! It is so refreshing.


Here are a few takeaways from today’s Teachmeet, coordinated by Kyle Calderwood and his wife, Liz Calderwood:

  • The world of Augmented Reality is changing, and improving – I recommend to connect with Drew Minock
  • Alicia Mackall did fantastic job of supplying technology applications connected to the Common Core
  • Did you Geddit? Robynn Hecht showed a new tool to collect data and check for understanding in the class
  • Will King presented 20 tools in 20 minutes, and each tool could be easily implemented in the classroom tomorrow!
  • The overall format of Teachmeet lent itself to fast paced learning, in 20 minute segments designed for the learner.

Teachmeet was an overall excellent experience and one I would highly recommend!

Avoiding Whack a Mole Leadership (229:365)

source: urbananomie.com

source: urbananomie.com

Ever play Whack a Mole? Invented in 1976, Whack a Mole is a machine with 5 to 7 holes, and played with a rubber mallet. Once the game begins, moles pop up out of the holes and it is your job to whack them as quickly as they appear. As you progress the moles pop up faster and faster. Since its original adoption, the game has been changed and modified over the years…. But the concept has always been the same: Whack the mole! 


As leaders, you can sometimes feel like you are literally playing Whack a Mole. Problems arise, you solve them, and then another pops up, and another and another. It is easy to get stuck in this mindset. Yet, it is not effective. How do you avoid playing Whack a Mole leadership?

Here are three suggestions:

  1. If you carry a mallet, you will see everything as a mole…. Perhaps these “moles” that pop up are opportunities, not problems.
  2. When someone gives you a mole (problem), as Todd Whittaker would say, “Don’t make the mole your problem!” Todd wrote about this concept extensively in Shifting the Monkey, and What Great Principals Do Differently.
  3. Not all moles are your problem! It is extremely important to empower staff to make decisions and solve problems.


The next time you are playing Whack a Mole (not at the boardwalk or arcade, or iPad) be sure to remain process-centered, and think twice before whacking….

Preparing for school year with @principalpln (228:365)

PrincipalPLNYesterday the Principalpln got together for our first podcast of the second season. Other than some technical difficulties, we were able to do what we enjoy most… learn from each other, laugh, and share our stories.


This season we are going to try a few new things. Our shows will be pre-recorded and distributed each week. We will be focusing on the specific needs of the school leader, and the aspiring school leader. Want more information? Check out our new blog.


Enjoy our first episode of season 2

Modeling the way: Connecting your leadership (227:365)

source: blog.softwareinsider.org

source: blog.softwareinsider.org


Be the change you want to see in the world – Gandhi


For school leaders, it is imperative to be the change you want to see in your school.  As we become more engrossed in the 21st century, and understanding the changing nature of information, personalized learning, and preparing students for jobs that don’t currently exist (thanks Scott McLeod), school leaders need to be at the forefront.


Far too long, supervisors, principals, and superintendents have been engaged in compliance leadership…. Every new initiative or requirement that has been enacted by the various departments of education have fallen on the shoulders of the school/district leaders…. until now. Considering that 90% of the worlds information has been developed in the past two years, and technology has accelerated this change, we need to learn how to understand the benefits of being connected.


Here are a few reasons why it is crucial to be a connected leader:

  • As opposed the previous (compliance leaders) connected leaders can model the way for their students, parents, teachers and community about digital citizenship, and digital responsibility
  • Connected leaders can learn 24 hours a day 7 days a week in a personalized format. There is no more waiting…. You want it, you go get it
  • It doesn’t take much time – For about 10 minutes a day, you can increase your understanding of what ever you want
  • Professional Learning Network – the PLN can assist you with ideas, resources, and support as you grow and understand that you are not alone
  • Tell your story – Spread the great news of your school or district through blogs, videos, and other web 2.0 tools.


As you model these practices, you will realize that the connected world is crucial to improving the learning environment of your school. The school community, after seeing you model this digital learning, and connection will be able to embark on a similar journey. Before you know it, you will see the change you wanted to see….


For more information about how all this can assist you, check out my new book Connected Leadership: It’s a click away.

School Leadership: It’s a shared responsibility (226:365)

Source: www.customercentric.info

Source: www.customercentric.info

Each summer our administrators and teacher-leaders gather for two days to work collaboratively on school improvement. This year, we had the opportunity to work with the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association (NJPSA) on the Connected Action Road Map (CAR). I was impressed with this model for a few reasons.


First, the model is not a “new initiative” or the “next big thing.” In actuality, the CAR method is based in research, and best practices no matter what your school emphasizes. Secondly, the model encourages shared responsibility between teachers and administrators to unpack standards and make them understandable for students, develop process-centered Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), and establish norms on the climate and culture of your building.


During the two days we worked collaboratively, we had to opportunity to take inventory of our school. We explored what we are doing well, and what we need to improve upon. As a school leader, it was refreshing to see teachers being honest, and supportive of the process.  In the words of one of our teacher leaders, “I am cautiously optimistic.”


As I reflect on the past two days, I too am cautiously optimistic. I understand we have a lot of work to do, but we will have the continued support of the NJPSA, as well as the school-based leadership team that is committed to embark on this journey….. together!



Knowing the learning environment (225:365)

source: 1cat.biz

source: 1cat.biz

I operate under the assumption that we all learn differently. Sure, there are some trends, but each of us is hard-wired to process information in a unique way. Understanding how you learn is always the first step in creating a learning environment. Think about this for a minute… can you articulate how you learn information? Do you share that with your staff, students, or colleagues?


For instance, I like to make connections. I like to think outside of the box. I like to take risks, and challenge the process. I struggle with problem solving, fixing things, or doing hands-on projects. I have to work hard to do anything technical. Ironically, I do like order, but only for a little while and then I like to change. I like working in groups, but I struggle with always staying on task. So, this is my learning in a nutshell. Knowing this, how would you teach me? Work with me? Challenge me? Please understand that this has nothing to do with how much information that I know, and you can not find this information out on a test.


Learning about the learners in your environment is critical as you begin the new year. What steps will you take to learn about your learners?



Leadership: Through What Lens? (224:365)

Source: screenshots.yakohl.com

Source: screenshots.yakohl.com

Could it be that leadership boils down to one answer to the age old question, “Is the glass half filled or half empty?” In many ways, it could be that simple, and in other ways it could be much more complex.


I’d like to think that the mindset of a leader has a profound effect on how they choose to lead, and more importantly hope that others will change. Can people change?

So much to reflect on….


Here are some guiding questions to help understand your leadership lens:

  • Is your glass half filled or empty?
  • Can you change?
  • Are you fixed or growth minded?


Leadership starts with, you guessed it, you, the leader. What lens will you see the organization? Others? It all comes down to you.