Thursday, January 29, 2015

#Throwback Thursday - The Value of Using Cell Phones to Enhance Education + Some Concrete Ways to Do So

Today's #ThrowbackThursday brings us to a post I wrote in 2008 about using cell phones for learning even if they are banned where you work. Little did I know back then, that this post would receive more than 20,000 views and also be the basis for my book, "Teaching Generation Text." At the time, it was considered rather scandalous (see this coverage in the local paper) that I was teaching teachers how to harness their cell phones for learning when schools across the city in which these teachers work banned the devices. 

Since then, things have changed. Most of those cool texting services I wrote about in this post any others such as Google SMS, Wiffiti, ChaCha and more, no longer provide such services in an age where most phones are smart. Also, more and more districts are lifting the ban and embracing the power of student devices for learning. 

Written: May 12, 2008

Topic: Using cell phones for learning

Who might be interested: Anyone teaching in an environment that doesn't ban cell phones.

Favorite excerpt / Reader Questions:
  • Should we teach educators and students ways to unleash the educational value of technologies even if they may not be accessible in schools?
  • How will schools be impacted that are a part of Bloomberg’s pilot program that provides every student at certain schools with cell phones in an effort to increase student achievement? Should those phones just be seen as a reward and a tool to use after school or should those teachers and students have an opportunity to learn about, model, and implement ways to use these devices as powerful learning tools?
  • Should the decision of use of cell phones and other technologies be at the discretion of the mayor or should informed educators and building leaders be empowered to determine if they want to employ such a policy?
  • Should educators and students be encouraged to make an educational case for allowing various technologies to be used acceptably, appropriately, and educationally in schools?


The Value of Using Cell Phones to Enhance Education and Some Concrete Ways to Do So

I am offering a class through the Office of Instructional Technology this Friday that among other things shows educators how to use Google SMS to enhance teaching and learning. When participants ask questions and colleagues (in this case the class facilitators) send emails like this one or this one that inquire why I offer a class informing educators how to use sms texting as an educational tool even though cell phones are banned in NYC schools, my answer is easy. I am fortunate to work in an office that believes in being leaders rather than followers in providing innovative support to educators. With technology changing at lightening speed, many of our educators don't yet know what it is they need to know in this vast and ever-changing 21st Century landscape and it is the responsibility of our office to help inform the educational community. 

Read the rest at: 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Struggling To Connect With Students? Let Them Get To Know You

Guest post by James Alan Sturtevant

Teachers are often lectured, “Get to know your students!” That’s not easy to do! A lot of kids can be pretty closed down. And, if you try to get to know them before they’re ready…it can be counter productive.
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Bonding with students is fundamental to the learning process. John Hattie, in his landmark book “Visible Learning”, created a list of 138 influences on student learning. He placed student-teacher relationships in 11th place, far ahead of many things one might think more important. State departments of education, like in Ohio where I live, are requiring resident educators to demonstrate that positive relationships are being fostered in classrooms.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Hashtag How Tos - Figure, Configure, Follow, Find, + Find Others

When I speak with educators about the power of hashtags in social media, I get four questions.
1. How do I figure out which hashtag to use and set it up?
2. How do I know what people are saying?
3. How do I know what hashtag people are using if I want to find conversations about an area of interest?
4. How do I know who is using the hashtag?

There's a few great sites to help you answer these questions. They are Tagboard,, TOPSY, and Twitter.  Let's take a look and how to use these platforms to most effectively answer these questions.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Hottest Posts Everybody's Reading

Here’s the roundup of what's been popular on The Innovative Educator blog. Below you’ll see the top posts along with the number of page views. I hope there's something that looks of interest to you.  If it does, check it out. If you’re inspired use one of those icons below the post to share it with others and/or leave a comment.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

#ThrowbackThursday - Lessons Learned at The Science Leadership Academy

Today's #ThrowbackThursday brings us to a post I wrote after my first visit to The Science Leadership Academy. It was my first experience into the underbelly of what a "school gone right" looks like. I had the opportunity to spend an amazing day with the school's founder, Chris Lehmann, and his staff and students. Want to find out what makes a successful school? Read this article.

Written: May 30, 2008

Topic: Best practices at SLA

Who might be interested: Educators interested in learning about and using ideas that lead to school success.

Favorite excerpt:  When parents ask if SLA will prepare their children to do as well on standardized test as some other schools Mr. Lehman explains that the school is not about test scores. Instead he explains this is a place where students are not judged simply by test scores, but rather it is a place where they consider the students' head, heart, and hands. This was evident during my visit. Something I noticed early was there were no disturbing, ear piercing bells or announcements. When I asked Mr. Lehman to speak about this, he said it was because they were educating humans, not animals being trained to respond to a bell.

Reader question: Which of the practices outlined in this article take place (or you wish took place) where you work?


Science Leadership Academy – Lessons Learned

I had the opportunity to join my colleagues for a visit to Chris Lehman’s much lauded (recently to me by Will Richardson and Jason LevyScience Leadership Academy (SLA). Some of the best professional development I have engaged in is visits to schools that have the kind of reputation and stand for what I believe in. Then I watch, discuss, write, read about, implement, and share the best of what I discover. 

Chris Lehman, SLA's founding principal, has distinct views about what he believes schools should be doing for their students as he shared with us and in an Edutopia interview. "When I hear people say it's our job to create the twenty-first-century workforce, it scares the hell out of me. Our job is to create twenty-first-century citizens. We need workers, yes, but we also need scholars, activists, parents -- compassionate, engaged people. We're not reinventing schools to create a new version of a trade school. We're reinventing schools to help kids be adaptable in a world that is changing at a blinding rate."

Read the rest at: 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

#BYOD Toolkit Provides Resources Necessary for Success

As Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) becomes and option for more and more schools, it is important to get the right pieces in place. A good place to start is the BYOD Toolkit which is part of the K-12 Blueprint for implementing successful technology initiatives.  The Toolkit includes case studies, checklists, step-by-steps, program frameworks, forms, and presentations to help in planning and implementing a BYOD program at the school or district level.

The Toolkit allows schools to learn from others with resources such as the sample acceptable use policies below:
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