Be Teachable

Written on one of the tables at

Many bloggers have been posting their take-aways from Educon2.1. I have to admit that though I was sad to leave SLA and my PLN on Sunday afternoon and even sadder to say goodbye to Liz Davis as I left her at the Philadelphia Airport an hour later, my brain was fried. I wasn’t ready to think about next year or reflect on this year’s conference.

Let’s be honest. I wasn’t ready to drive home as I hadn’t had enough sleep. I wasn’t ready to tackle all the laundry that was waiting for me or to have to go grocery shopping to make sure that we had supplies for the girls’ lunches on Monday. Oh, and I wasn’t ready for my workshop on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday. I was shot.

What are ya gonna do? Get ready!!

The next day I drove back towards Philly to work with a group of teachers on UDL. It was our third of 5 sessions together, so these were teachers that I had already built a rapport with. We talked openly about good teaching and what was working in their classrooms and then I asked them to take my presentation for the day and redo it so that it was more accessible to them.  We worked on the concepts behind multiple methods of presentation and worked on which tools would help them meet the objectives of the UDL framework. At first they were uncomfortable with editing my presentation. I explained that I had designed it that way to make a point and to teach me a more appropriate way to present these same ideas. I was hoping that they had really looked at the YouTube videos and wikis I had shared with them about PowerPoint reform.

On the drive home I spoke with a tech coordinator from a high school in North Jersey. We had been trying to connect with each other for a couple of weeks, so using the hands-free device in the car, I listened to him talk to me about how great the school’s infrastructure was, how they had at least four computers in each classroom, plus a couple of COWs. What he needed from me was to come in and get the teachers excited about using technology and to give them the tools, skills and confidence to bring their school into the 21st Century. I found myself thinking that I’d be happy to help him as log as his staff was teachable.

0128091The next day I drove to North Jersey to finish some SMARTBoard mentoring I mentioned in a previous post. I had 5 sessions mapped out for the morning ranging from a group of pre-k teachers with no IWB experience to a 5th grade teacher with over a year’s experience who was thirsty to learn the more advanced features of the technology.  What I didn’t expect was the middle school language arts teacher who walked in the room who had just started working at the school the prior week. She immediately asked me how this technology would help her get her students to be better writers. I asked her how she teaches them to write. We only had 25 minutes together, so you can understand that I needed to make some pretty quick decisions. She was very much against using any technology in the classroom because (…and you’ve heard this one before…) when she was a student, she learned to write just fine without a computer.

I sat and calmly talked with her about how not every piece of technology meets every need. That she might consider using collaborative documents with her students. I asked her if she wanted to make sure that her students were ready for high school, college and the work force in addition to being good writers. She said she was interested in learning how she could integrate technology and still teach the pedagogy behind good writing. She was open to ideas. She was teachable. I invited her to the upcoming Google Learning Institute at Rutgers University.

I was scheduled to drive back towards Philly today to work in one of the middle schools in Camden City School District. I work with a team of stellar teachers there in my 21st Century Learning Initiative. Though I’m disappointed it was canceled due to the snow (the district closed the schools), it gave me a chance to go through my inbox, my notes from Educon2.1 and look back at the week and what’s still to come.

What have I learned?

I tell people I try to learn something each day. I’m pretty sure that on the days I’m out in the field working with teachers I learn way more than one thing. I know I learn more than one thing a day when I attend a professional development event, be it in person or virtually.

I try to be teachable. Whether you are a noobie or a seasoned educator or somewhere in between – be teachable.

Going Places in Life

It was this time last year that many of the folks in my PLN headed to Educon2.0. I had the pleasure of making the face-to-face connections with educators that I had been communicating with online for many months – some even longer. It really was a fantastic weekend.

"You are one of the people who goes places in life."
"You are one of the people who goes places in life."

I have to admit that I’ve saved something since that weekend. Something that I don’t usually do. In my wallet, for the last year, has been the fortune that I got at the Tai restaurant, Asia on the Parkway at the hotel many of us stayed at and will be staying at again this weekend.

I don’t know what really made me hang on to this one over others I’ve received. But I’m glad I did. It’s not just for me – it’s for all of you that have been on this journey with me. We work to develop our professional (or in some cases personal) learning networks, we work to share our resources (it is sometimes a lot of work to do so), we share our ideas, we share our ups and downs and what works and doesn’t work. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with so many of you. I’m disappointed that so many of you are not able to attend Educon2.1. But you too, are one of those people who goes places in life. So I’ll see you sometime soon.

“You are one of the people who goes places in life.”

French Fries for the Brain


Or so I thought. I figured this one would take me no time at all.

I was honored when Dean Shareski asked me to do a quick presentation for his pre-service students this coming week along with the pre-service students of Alec Couros. Well, in typical Lisa fashion, I got caught up in what should have taken me an hour or so to prepare. I’ve presented on Google Apps, Tools, Resources, however you want to phrase or look at them, dozens of times. But every time I prepare for a presentation I get caught up in all of the fantastic resources out there. I am proud to be part of the Google Certified Teacher network, but there are also other extremely innovative educators out there who have resources to share. It’s difficult to keep up with the resources educators have created. What I thought would be just another review of a past presetnation and a look through my bookmarks ultimately turned into an entire Sunday Google Fest, 3 cups of coffee and anything but french fries for my brain. (Add in glare from husband and two children.)

So, how do I wrap this all into a neat 45 minute package? At least when I prepare for the Google Teacher Academy and only have 20 minutes, it’s for ONE specific tool. Dean wrote that he was “thinking of things like iGoogle, docs (including forms) Notebook (although I see they may not be supporting that anymore) Picasa or any other key educational tools, tips or tricks. It’s your show.” Those of you that know me know that I have a certain, should we call it, enthusiasm, for what I teach. I could spend 45 minutes alone on just saying hello to the class. So I chose to create a new presentation that focused in on the 6-application suite of Google Apps Education Edition. Of course, by doing so, I was leaving out iGoogle and Google Reader, so I also addressed those tools.

Never mind the fact that this was the last weekend before Educon, I wanted to dedicate some time to continuing my UDL Toolkit for a group of educators I’m working with on Wednesday and I’m mentoring some teachers with their SMARTBoards this week as well (and this is the schedule I’ve been given):

  • Period 1 4th grade general studies
  • Period 2 Set up and questions
  • Period 3 Using the SMARTBoard with K-2 students
  • Period 4 General technology questions
  • Period 5 Foreign Languages
  • Period 6 Middle School English
  • Period 7 Middle School Math
  • Period 8 Science K-8
  • Period 9 5th grade general studies

Having said all of this, thanks to Dean and Alec, I’ve gathered some really great resources on using Google Apps and Google Apps – Education Edition. Some I already had in my Diigo / Delicious (I maintain both). Some were new to me and I’m so glad to have found them. I don’t know if we’ll get to these resources during my time with the pre-service classes Wednesday night, but I will be able to point the students here to check them out and I wanted to share them with all of you as well.

Have some others to share? Please leave a comment. Thanks!

These two articles are worth a read, if you haven’t already:

Colorado State University Partners with Google to Enhance E-mail and Collaboration Services

Go Ahead and Blog; the Experts Would Approve

These resources developed about Google Tools are phenomenal:

A comic book by Kern Kelley
Google Tools Comic Book

Google Earth is our Paper: A Five Part Series by Tom Barrett

  1. Part 1
  2. Part 2
  3. Part 3
  4. Part 4
  5. Part 5

Google More – a wiki created by Mark Wagner

The Google Almanac by Kyle Brumbaugh, Jerome Burg, Cheryl Davis, and Kathleen Ferenz

Not sure where to start: Try with one of these 40 ideas:

Another PD Site by Cheryl Davis

The Google Learning Institute Comes to Rutgers University


Search, learn, share – the GLI has made it to the East Coast!!!

Brought to you by the producers of the Google Teacher Academy, the Google Learning Institute (GLI) introduces participants to innovative ways Google tools can be used in education. A full day of fast-paced presentations and hands-on activities includes experience with advanced search techniques, collaborative web-based applications, and inspirational instructional strategies. Google Certified Teachers share ways they’ve implemented tools such as Google Docs, Google EarthGoogle Sites, and… even more. Participants who complete the event are given access to the Google Learning Network (GLN), an online community focused on supporting educators as they learn more about the power of Google to drive student learning.


The CMSCE at Rutgers University is partnering with CUE to host this event for NJ educators.

Scholarships to this professional development event are available from such companies as Keyboard Consultants and Impact Technologies. Just submit this quick application after registering for course # 032609a and you’ll be notified by March 1, 2009 whether you have been awarded one of the available scholarships. (Please contact me directly if you have any questions or you are interested in sponsoring a NJ educator, school or district at this special event.


Update to this post made on 1/29/09: A second Google Learning Institute will be held at the Busch Campus Center at Rutgers University on May 28, 2009. You can register for this event by going to

SAT Video Contest – It’s Not Too Late to Submit

brainyflixlogoIt’s not too late to urge your students to submit their videos to the nationwide contest that the MIT Alumni Association is sponsoring.  Students compete to produce fun, creative videos teaching SAT vocabulary.  They’re looking for short videos no longer than 2 min.
Once the videos have been submitted, they’ll allow viewers to vote on the videos, and they’ll award $600 in prize money to the video that receives the most number of votes.  $200 of the prize will go directly to the winner(s) and $400 to the class or school club chosen by that person(s).  To further encourage participation, they’ll give away 1 free iTunes song for every 5 videos a contestant submits or refers (up to the first 1,000 video submissions).

MIT began accepting video submissions January 1, but there is still plenty of time to submit your video(s)

You can sign up to receive an email reminder at

Other important dates are shown below:

– Video submission opens: 1/1/2009
– Video submission ends: 2/23/2009
– Voting opens: 3/1/2009
– Voting ends: 3/14/2009
– Winners announced: 3/20/2009
For more information, please visit
For any inquiries that aren’t answered there, contact Jack Yu at
Good luck and feel free to leave a comment here with a link to your students’ video(s)!

Classroom 2.0 – Ten Reasons to Join in 2009

When I introduce teachers to Web 2.0 in a professional development event, I urge them to join Classroom 2.0. When I read Peggy George’s request to submit a list of Top Ten new ideas, techniques, tools, books, conversations that made 2008 special for you for the “What We Learned in 2008.” show on January 2, 2009, it gave me the idea to create a list of reasons why teachers new to Web 2.0 or Social Networking should join.

Here’s the list – please let me know if you think I’ve missed anything important as I value your input.

  1. Ask a question get an answer if you are active in your PLN.
  2. Classroom 2.0 is THE best place for Web 2.0 Ed Tech Newbies to get started.cr2_japanese
  3. If you want to learn about Screencasting – check out the thread CR has on it – there are 48 posts with over 25 useful links to check out.
  4. You can search CR2.0 by area, by subject or by tool, which makes it a bit easier to find specific information when you don’t know what keyword to search with.
  5. With over 15,000 members, Classroom 2.0 has to be the best resources for information for classroom teachers – not just techies.
  6. There are over 300 subgroups within CR 2.0 including one for Second Life, the DEN, one for educators interested in brain research and one for music teachers . There is something for everyone.
  7. You can add the Classroom 2.0 badge to your website, blog, Facebook page, pretty much anywhere you’d like to let people know you are a member and where they can go to find out more information about you. CR2.0 provides the code for several different badges at
  8. Don’t speak English? Not a problem. CR2.0 is available in 11 languages including Portuguese, Hebrew and Japanese .
  9. Classroom 2.0 is not only a Ning . It’s so much more – including FREE Professional Development. There are the workshops and the weekly Elluminate sessions on Classroom 2.0 Live.
  10. Join the CR2.0 Wikispace and contribute, subscribe to updates and changes, or just bookmark this great resource.

I know there’s so much more, but I wanted to keep the list to ten. Your comments abd additions would further show the power of a PLN as I point educators to this list during the coming year.


Happy New Year! I hope to see you in the chat at the “What We Learned in 2008” Classroom 2.0 event with Peggy George, Kim Caise and of course, Steve Hargadon tomorrow at 1pm EST.