Sunday, June 30, 2019

#PodPeeks: Teachonomy Talks

Today I'm highlighting another awesome podcast I've added to my playlist, Teachonomy Talks with Chuck Poole. Most of the podcasts I listen to I do a great deal of learning. Teachonomy Talks is a bit different ... and I love it! It's DEFINITELY a thinker, but it's more of an "inspirational thinker". Each episode is short and packed with inspiring and reflective thoughts. I love how Chuck shares short and thought-provoking ideas.

I have shared many Teachonomy Talks episodes with others. Often, I feel like Chuck knows what is going on in my brain and he is speaking directly to me and they provide reaffirmation, a different perspective, or just some inspiration to give me a boost.

You can find all the episodes (currently there are 131!) on your favorite podcast player or on the Teachonomy Talks website. Here are a few episodes I'd like to highlight:

πŸ’™ Episode 131: "Where Do You Shine Your Spotlight?"
πŸ’™ Episode 126: "Thoughts for Teachers: Do You Look Through Your Backup Camera"
πŸ’™ Episode 115: "Two Minute Timeout for Teachers... You Were Built to Sail"
πŸ’™ Episode 107: "Two Minute Timeout for Teachers... YOU are a Masterpiece"
πŸ’™ Episode 101: "Thoughts for Teachers: Do Your Flaws Forms a Foundation?"

I could go on ... but if you tune in for one or two of these, I'm sure you'll be hooked, and you'll find many more wonderful episodes.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Curation Activities You Can Do

Last week, I shared "Digital Curation Tools You Can Do" with 3 digital tools you can use to curate the various articles, ideas, activities, books, etc that you come across. If one of these works well for you, awesome! 

This week I want to share a different idea about curation. YOU don't have to do it all. 

"Why not have STUDENTS help with the curation of sources?"

Today, I'm sharing 3 different ways you could have students curate WITH you below, but let's talk about WHY you should have students curate sources.

We all want our students to be using good and credible sources, right? So quite often, we provide the sources FOR our students. But we are missing out on a big opportunity when we do this. At some point, students will be researching on their own. They will be sifting through vast amount of information that is at their fingertips. Have you ever seen students research? They go for the first few links - not the best ones - and call it a day.

That's why I think this is such a good activity. The skill of finding good, credible sources is a tough one. It's tough for many adults! I've heard many teachers comment on how their students don't find good sources and ask how we help them get better.

Think about this the next time you ask your students to do research. What if you collaborated with them on this task? What if this was step one in the research/project/activity? Hear me out ...

This can be beneficial on a couple of levels for you and your students. First, even if you ask each student in your class to find a single source, you could end up with 20+ sources of information on your topic. How great is that? Students finding the sources and then having a bank to refer to? Hot dog! Can you imagine what your bank of sources would look like if you have each student find 2 ... or more? And how about then having students use that bank of sources to DO the project or activity? How awesome!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Digital Curation Tools You Can Do

Do you ever feel like you have information overload? 

I do. A lot. I see so much I want to read or try or create or soak in or share out. I feel like I am constantly reading and looking. My husband often asks, "How do you have so much going on in your brain?" 😊 But I don't feel like this is a bad thing ... not at all.

What I struggle with is keeping all the good things I see organized in a way that will make sense to me now AND later. Call me crazy, but I've not found "the perfect" system. I hear people swear by this tool or that tool, and I feel a little jealous! I wish I had "the perfect" system. I've tried out others' systems, but it doesn't work for me - not in the "perfect" sense. I like a lot of things about a lot of tools, so until I find "IT", I will continue to use a variety of tools to curate what I come across & want to keep.

Why curate? I couldn't possibly do everything right now ... I need to prioritize, and I support a variety of teachers with a variety of needs. I curate a wide variety of tools, activities, people, books, blogs, resources, conferences, and more. I do this all year long and summer is a great time to take a good look at what you've got and sift through. In fact, it's on my to do list ... to better organize - for both personal and professional items. 

If you are interested in digital curation tools, I've got a few to share, but there are dozens out there. These are ones I've spent some time working with and feel like I can comment on.

Pinterest ↭ hands down, my oldest curation tool. I got hooked on Pinterest when I was pregnant with my middle daughter. I could sit and snuggle her and scroll through Pinterest in small chunks or long periods when I could just rock with her. I love being able to create boards for groups of ideas. And the secret boards are perfect for projects you don't want everyone else to know about! Many dinner recipes were found this way. I don't use it a great deal anymore - I'm not a fan of the many links where you are linked out to a place you also have to have an account or you have to pay to use. I do curate my blog posts there under a board I call "Tech You Can Do" (LINK HERE). Pinterest has both an app for mobile devices as well as a Chrome extension that I use.

Pearltrees  another social bookmarking tool. While I've used it some, I've not dug in deep. I love the visual aspect of Pearltrees. I love that I can add more than websites to it. I've used Pearltrees only for a year or so and I think it provides a nice view of curated "things". Right now, I have 3 groups of "pearls" where I've curated Twitters I follow, various learning opportunities I want to share out, and professional learning with podcasts and people that I admire. I have embedded them on my website and from the stats, this page gets a fair amount of views. (LINK HERE) Pearltrees has a Chrome extension that I'd highly recommend if want to use it. It also has a mobile app that is easy to use.

Wakelet  is similar to both Pinterest and Pearltrees. It is also a digital bookmarking tool. This is a newer tool with a familiar feel. I have tried to get into using it, but being honest, I've not. I do know several people who really like Wakelet, and it's a top tool in the edtech world. You can make collections and these collections can be shared. Wakelet is intended for those 13 years and older. But collections can be shared with younger students.

If you are interested in learning more, check these links out:

Authors - Sean, Karly, Dr. Randall Sampson, Jen Saarinen, Scott Titmas, Claudio Zavala Jr., Paul West, John Bimmerle
*** UPDATE!!! *** Thanks to Andy, my Tech Director, for sharing this tip ... teachers can share Wakelet collections with students in their Google Classrooms. How awesome!!! Kim Mattina shared this "how to" VIDEO. (Thanks, Kim!)

Email ↭ I know this is probably on everyone's "Do Not Do" list, but I've found it to be a great tool for curation. I often email myself a link with a short note attached so I know who I was wanting to share with or a note to remind myself later what I was thinking. If it's school related, I email it to my school account; if it's for me personally, I will email it to my personal email account. This has worked REALLY well! Part of the reason it works, is the little badge reminds me I have something waiting for me. And I check my email several times a day. It is definitely going to be a tool I continue to use. (Hey, sometimes you just have to be a rebel, right?)

This is a very small collection, so if I don't list one here & you have an awesome one, please reach out! Maybe you will have the one I've been searching for.  Next week, I'll be back with a different take on curating and curation tools.

Have a question or comment? Feel free to comment below, reach out to me on Twitter @kiefersj, or email me at 

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Summer Learning: Midwest Leadership Summit reflection

Last week, I shared several suggestions for educators to do some summer learning. I am excited to share the first summer learning activity I've done this summer. I was fortunate enough to attend the Midwest Leadership Summit this past week. And it was amazing!!! 

100% a dream come true!

Today I'm going to focus on Day 1 with George Couros. But let me back up a bit ... I bought the book "The Innovator's Mindset" about 2 years ago after reading good reviews. The summary of the book really appealed to me. . . . And then it sat on my shelf, unread. Our curriculum director, Becky Tompkins, pulled it out in a meeting and asked if we'd be interested in a book study. I agreed, thinking now I'd have some accountability in reading it.

Reading doesn't describe what I did with this book! Post-it notes, highlighting, scribbling notes in the margins, texting excited aha's! and "I love this!" messages back and forth is a more accurate description. Nothing in this book is earth shattering. It all simply reaffirms everything I know to be good teaching and learning. The book gave me the opportunity to pump my fist in the air and say, "Yes! THIS is what we need to get back to. THIS is good."

Our team loved it so much, we hosted a district wide professional book study. We gamified it - giving me the opportunity to put into action some much desired attempts at gamification. We incorporated several tech tools to demonstrate classroom application with our teachers. We hoped at least 10 would sign up and we had over 70! Using our LMS, the digital conversations across buildings brought me to tears on more than one occasion. Teachers bravely shared ideas inspired by the book. What an impact it had ... the conversations it sparked ... the relationships it helped me build and strengthen ... the excitement it inspired. Incredible! It was an amazing success!

I then facilitated round #2, as a joint venture between my district and BCESC. Another successful adventure where more teachers from my district and teachers in surrounding districts were able to share in the same wonderful discussion and idea sharing. I followed that with round #3 with even more teachers.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Summer 2019 Learning You Can Do

Hello, summer vacation!!! Take a deep breath ... slow down ... enjoy coffee on the porch ... take a nap ... sleep in/stay up late NOT grading or planning! ... use the bathroom whenever you want ... shall I continue? 

Most teachers enjoy a slower pace on their summer breaks. I also know many teachers use - at least part of - their summer break to do some professional learning. I'm one of them. 

I often hear how kids are sponges ... I feel like I am, too! I honestly love learning. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't learn something. It's usually not earth-shattering. (I think that would get old real quick!) 

Last year I posted a few ideas ["Summer 2018 Learning You Can Do"] and I feel like this is such a good topic, I want to expand a bit more this year. I've found many non-traditional methods of learning that I've come to not only love, but depend on.

πŸ”Š Podcasts

If you've followed me for awhile, you know I πŸ’– podcasts! I am a faithful follower of several. I listen on my drive to & from work several times a week. I listen while my daughters have soccer practice. I listen when I go for walks. I listen when I fold laundry or make breakfast. I focus mostly on edtech podcasts, but your options really are limitless. 

Podcasts are perfect for on-the-go learners. When I'm driving, I can't read ... but I can listen. When I'm at soccer practice, wifi isn't good. And while I love music (I listen to that when I run), when I'm walking, I get lost in my thoughts, and most of the time, my thoughts lead right to edtech. Podcasts can range from a few minutes to an hour or more.

I don't just listen. More often than not, I get ideas that I share with a specific teacher based on conversations I've had with them. I use it to create something. I tweet out a connection I've made to the podcast. Basically - I share it with someone. I encourage you to do the same.

Looking for suggestions? I've highlighted several podcasts over the past year. The label is #PodPeeks, or click HERE. ALL very good! If you want quick suggestions check out the shelf below.

πŸ“š Reading

I also πŸ’— to read. Ever since I was a child, I have loved to read. I subscribe to several blogs - love how they arrive TO me. I click on links others tweet out. I have joined several Facebook groups and read things shared within these communities. I do very much the same thing when I find good stuff by reading ... I'll email it, or tweet it, or text it to the person/people I think would benefit from it.

There are also many phenomenal books focused on education, whether philosophy, pedagogy, or specific content. Often, the authors or various groups will run book studies. Better yet, gather a few of your teacher friends, agree on a book, then set a date to meet and talk about the book. (Tip: often you can find discussion questions online, or just have each reader bring a question or two to discuss.) Share. Talk about it.

Looking for suggestions? I have a list at the VERY bottom of my site of good ones (scroll until you can't scroll anymore). Looking for a few quick suggestions right now? Check out the "shelf" below. All GREAT reads!

πŸŽ’ Continuing Education

There are loads of classes - online & in person - you can take. It might help to contact your Curriculum Director. Many times they are able to guide you to good ones. Are you looking to advance your degree? You'll want to ensure you also get PD credit, too, so be sure to check with your LPDC before investing any money. There are many online options to check into, so choose wisely.

Interested in working to become a Google Certified Educator Level 1? I am facilitating an online course this summer through BCESC - Butler County Educational Services Center - on becoming a Google Certified Educator Level 1. I'd love for you to join us. It's set up to be done in your own time ... as your summer allows. I've included due dates, but only to guide you to complete before August 1. Interested? Click the LINK to register. If you use GSuite in your classroom, this is a perfect way to earn continuing education credit.

πŸ‘₯ Workshops/Conferences

Summertime can also be a great time to attend a conference or workshop! During the school year, getting a sub and writing sub plans can often be very difficult. Summertime can allow you to attend without these. Are you looking for workshops/conferences in your area? Most conferences will be posting information on social media & have hashtags you can follow, even if you don't attend.

Here are a few to get you started:

* Edsurge US K-12 Education Technology Conferences 2019  [website for additional info]
"The EdSurge K-12 Education Technology Conferences calendar PDF lists the dates and locations of more than 60 K-12 edtech conferences and events in the United States for 2019, big and small, that should be on your radar." Several of the ones below are included.

* Teach with Tech Conference online conference (July 22-24) [website for more info]
Completely free (option to purchase a "ticket" in order to have access to replays for 1 year) online conference with some big edtech names! 60+ VIDEO SESSIONS from 60 SPEAKERS. I've got my ticket ... and I'm looking forward to tuning in!

* [website for more info] is an online portal for access to loads of online webinars to watch. There is plenty of variety - you'll be sure to find something of value to you.

* Eric Curts webinars [website for webinars] 
Eric has posted over 15 Google-focused webinars available for you to watch. Take a short quiz afterwards and earn a certificate for it. Free!

* ISTE Conference in Philadelphia,PA (June 23-26) [website for more info]
The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference is probably the biggest edtech conference there is. I've never attended but I have heard some pretty amazing things about this. I'd be willing to put money down that you will find something that will work for you.

* High AIMS in Fairfield, OH (Aug 1 & 2) [website for more info]
High AIMS is an organization committed to supporting school districts in SW Ohio. Each summer, a conference is held to allow educators “creating a network of leaders who inspire students and one another to be engaged, high performing learners.” If you are in the area, there is still time! Register HERE

***Bonus - I'll co-presenting a few sessions! I'd love to see you there!

* SPARCC at Stark State College in North Canton, OH (Aug 9) [website for more info]
For the 15th year, SPARCC is hosting an educational technology conference. Registration is FREE, but you must register. 

***Bonus - I'll be heading up to co-present with my colleague, Beth Kingsley. 

Shall I continue? 😊 There is no end to the learning you can do this summer! Books, podcats, in-person, virtual, and more. You have so many options.

Don't make excuses, make it happen!

Have a question or comment? Feel free to comment below, reach out to me on Twitter @kiefersj, or email me at