Sunday, May 20, 2018

8 Tips for Quality Posts During Conferences & Events

The school year is ending and for many innovative educators that is when their own learning begins as they hit local, national, and international conferences and events like the #NYCSchoolsTech Summit, Building Learning Communities, or International Society of Technology in Education Conference. When they do, they share their learning with their social learning network. Social media is flooded with frivolous posts and you don’t want what you share to be among that.  Here are some ideas to help ensure you are contributing quality content that will help you grow and strengthen your connections.

1-Be Intentional

Before you post, think about what you are hoping for your audience. Know how they will find what you share valuable.

2-Where’s The Beef? Share Quality Content

Don’t just post something like, “Took away great ideas I’m excited to use and implement in the classroom.” Your audience is left with nothing useful. They just know you know something they don’t.  Instead share the actual ideas, information, and how and what you plan to do with what you learned.

3-Foster Engagement

Posts are more meaningful if they invite the audience into the conversation. Consider ways to do that. Did a presenter share an interesting or provocative idea? Share it and ask your audience their reaction. Did the presenter say something surprising? Share that and ask what others think of this idea.  Posts that get conversation going are a win for the poster and the audience as everyone gets a little bit smarter.

4-Meaningful Photos

Woohoo.  Look at me at this event.  I’m here and you’re not. These type of posts aren’t the best choices for social learning.  What’s better is to snap photos that can help others learn or be inspired. Perhaps it is a photo of a powerful slide where you ask others for their reaction or experience with a concept. Maybe it is a great handout that promotes thinking and learning. Maybe it is a photo of someone speaking and you share a powerful quote they said as you shot the photo.

5-Tag Your Source

When you quote someone or share their ideas, do your best to find their profile info and tag them. It is always good to point your audience to the source directly. They get the credit and kudos they deserve and you make a great connection.

6-Share Links

Did you learn about a terrific program, theory, or concept? Do your best to provide a link for readers to learn more.  


Using a hashtag is a great way people can follow what folks are posting about a learning experience. Conference organizers should have this on slides, signs, programs, and more. This is a powerful way for attendees and interested parties can connect.


A terrific way to process and internalize your learning is to write a reflection as a blog post, Facebook note, or wherever you like to capture learning. If you do, share that and spread the learning. #NYCSchoolsTech educator Sean Arnold did just that following his visit to the NYSCATE Digital Leadership Conference.  The recap helps the writer to make meaning of what they saw and also lets others learn from the experience.

What's a quality post actually look like? Here are some examples of useful posts following NYSCATE's Digital Leadership Conference.

Contains an info-packed conference reflection. Tagged with NYSCATE as the topic.

Contains useful advice with a photo that provides details. Tagged with #NYSCATENYC as topic.

Post tells audience what they will learn and photo provides details.
Shared in the Facebook "event" so it could be easily located by others interested in the event.
Your Turn
What do you think? Will these tips help you share higher quality posts? Do you know folks who could benefit from some of these tips? Anything missing?

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Student Work That Matters: Free We Volunteer Now Kit

This is the time of year when the tests are behind students and the fun begins. Teachers are free to liberate their student’s genius by engaging in work that is worthy of the world. Angela Maiers says that learners who believe they have unique abilities early on will be more likely than others to:
  • Harness their talents more quickly
  • Develop self-confidence and a belief that they can succeed
  • Maintain their optimism and confidence under stress
  • Learn to rely on themselves more than others to get what they need in life
  • Live a productive and fulfilled life
"Genius Matters: A Framework for Epic Transformation is a free book with 20 lessons that teachers can implement with students to find their unique abilities and do work that matters such as volunteering.

Setting Up A Volunteering Campaign

If you want to give students an opportunity to volunteering their time and talents, WE Volunteer Now helps teachers help students organize volunteer activities to address issues and raise awareness about a cause they find important.

You can sign up for WE Volunteer Now to learn more about how to start a volunteer campaign at your school.  You’ll also get access to grade-specific lessons you can use right away. Plus, 500 schools will receive a $250 grant to use towards their volunteer project.

The grants will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis to all eligible schools/groups, to be used towards supporting your volunteer project! The eligible school or youth organization must:
  • Complete this application
  • Be based in the U.S.
  • Use the funds by October 2018
  • Include youth in grades K-12
  • Participate in the WE Volunteer Now Campaign

Get AP Credit

The We Volunteer Now kit contains ideas for teachers and students to brainstorm and helps students set goals. The kit also includes teacher checklists to help teachers keep students and themselves on track.  There are lessons for all grade levels that easily align with your current curriculum. For high school AP teachers there is an AP® with WE Service Course that allows teachers the opportunity to incorporate service learning into their existing AP courses. This gives students real world experiences with AP content that traditionally has a reputation of being rather dry and tedious.

Showcasing Student Volunteer Efforts Helps Schools Stand Out

There are many reasons to join WE Schools. Showcasing the wonderful ways your students are making the world a better place is a fantastic way to help your school stand out from the rest and garner community support. You can do this when students projects are finished educators have a great opportunity to celebrate and share the work on the school’s Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, website and other spaces.You can also share your results with We Volunteer Now for a chance to earn your way to WE Day. It’s a stadium-sized event (there are 6 held annually in select cities across the country!) that brings together amazing speakers and performers. And YOU and YOUR students could be honored, or students can tune in and watch them live! You can see what this looks like below.

In this hectic world of achievements and grades, it is tough for students (and their parents) to make the time for giving back. This post is brought to you by WeAreTeachers, Allstate Foundation, and the WE Volunteer Now grants that help schools and youth groups in their effort to give back to their local communities in a creative and unique way. 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Apple, Google, & Microsoft... Oh My! Which is Best for Your School?

This week the #NYCSchoolsTech Team brought innovative educators a chance to hear directly from “The Big Three: Apple, Google, and Microsoft” (listed alphabetically). During this day-long event at state-of-the-art #NYCSchoolsTech center, educators from across the city came together to learn first-hand which is best for their schools.

School Platform Preference

#NYCSchoolsTech leader JoJo Farrell got the day started by asking educators to stand up if they were primarily:
A) Apple school.
B) Google school.
C) Microsoft school. 

Who do you think the winner was?  Watch this video to find out.
The answer, as seen on video, is "D" none of the above. It turns out that schools tend to use some of each and that’s a good thing.

Special Adviser for School Technology, Jason Levy drove that point home. When Levy served as principal of a struggling middle school, he was able to turn it around in part by his use of technology. This was featured in a PBS Frontline story called, “How Google Saved a School.”  However, he explained that the reality is it wasn’t only Google at his school. While the school used the Google Suite, they did so on Apple devices and with staff and colleagues Microsoft was the primary communication platform. As an informed school principal he knew the strengths of various platforms and resources and selected the right tool and device for the needs of students and staff.

At the "Big Three Summit" each vendor participated in a panel, had hands on demos at their booth, and presented to the audience to provide an overview of some of the highlights around how educators are using their resources for teaching and learning.  A theme across the three was AR/VR is a path each will be pursuing in the education space. Participants were also pleasantly surprised to learn that when it comes to cost, Chromebooks are no longer the clear winner. Their sensible price point has finally resulted in Apple and Microsoft driving down prices for students and they will offer less expensive devices.

There were some clear winners in other areas though.

Top Honors Go To:


  • Accessibility and assistive tech
  • High end design and performance: Apple


  • Device management 
  • Collaboration


  • Translation
  • Online communities for adults

Exciting news:

#NYCSchoolsTech educators were also in for some surprises as they heard from each of the vendors.


  • They have released a free “Everyone Can Create” curriculum that helps teachers weave creative areas like photography, music and filmmaking into their existing lesson plans using an iPad.
  • Apple’s new 9.7-inch iPad starts at just $299 for schools and features enhanced cameras, advanced sensors and all-day battery life.



  • They are moving away from multiple versions of products so they will just look and feel nearly the same whether online or off.
  • With Microsoft Translations you can speak and in real time what you say can be translated to other languages.  Check out the video below to see this in action.

Support from Our Elected Official

One of the biggest advocates for effective use of technology in New York City schools, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer attended to show her support to #NYCSchoolsTech educators and share some of what she is working on to advocate on their behalf. She said she is working to address increasing bandwidth in schools and she is also working to update what is allowable when upgrading tech in school with Capital funds to include tablets and Chromebooks. Brewer applauded #NYCSchoolsTech and “The Big Three” for doing the important work of creating public school / private industry partnerships.   

Who’s the Winner? The Verdict:

#NYCSchoolsTech educator Lliana Villegas summed it up this way, “I came here today thinking there would be a clear winner as far as which of the “Big Three” is right for our school. I left realizing, it depends.” She went on to explain that you must consider how you plan to use the device or platform and with whom to make the best decision about what works.  This event allowed her to do just that.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Force Copy: The G-Suite Tip Every Teacher Needs To Know

You know those simple tech tips that make a big difference?  For me it was learning Ctrl+K is the shortcut to hyperlink a word. I use this one constantly. 

I'm going to share one with you that you probably never knew you needed, but once you learn it you're going to come back here and thank me.  This tip is for anyone who values collaboration and if you're an innovative educator that means you. It also means you know there is no better platform for that than G-Suite. Now if you use G-Suite there are times that you want to share document with someone but you want them to use their own version. 

Examples are:

  • Creating an action plan
  • A presentation template for a conference
  • An agenda for a workshop that you want to share, but people should customize it for their setting
  • A invitation that people can customize for a specific audience

The problem with "Make a Copy."

The problem is when you direct others to "Make a Copy" things can go wrong:
  • Maybe the sharing settings aren't right.  
  • Maybe they share with the same people and then you have a bunch of copies you don't want. 
  • Maybe the person doesn't know how to find "Make a Copy" and you have to waste time explaining it, etc. 

Well, there is a super simple, easy peasy way you can force people to make a copy and it's not intuitive.  

How to create a force copy:

1) Create a document and you will generate a url. 
2) Delete the last four letters of your document url. The ones that say "edit"
3) In the place of “edit,” type “copy.”

Voila!  You did it.  Now anyone who you share the new url with will see this:

screen shot of the result where it says "Copy document"

Your turn 

Go ahead. Try it. Click on the following link with "copy" at the end and see what happens?

Pretty cool, right? You're welcome.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

#NYCSchoolsTechChat: #NYCSchoolsTech Summit - 7 p.m. Thursday

Join us for our monthly #NYCSchoolsTechChat on Thursday, May 3. We will discuss how we are going to share learning and learn more at this summer’s #NYCSchoolsTech Summit. 

#NYCSchoolTech teacher Eileen Lennon  moderates with me throwing in my two cents. 

You can prepare for the conversation by thinking about answers to these questions:

Q1 What approaches are you using in your classroom to keep Q1 Let’s get newcomers excited. What advice do you have for newbies? What makes the trip worth it? Refresh your memory. See past workshops at this link. #NYCSchoolsTechChat
Q2 At the #NYCSchoolsTech Summit you get to connect with vendors f2f. Who do you want to talk to? What do you want to learn? #NYCSchoolsTechChat
Q3 What are you most excited about learning at this year’s#NYCSchooslTech Summit? #NYCSchoolsTechChat
Q4 We want you to submit poster sessions! What are you doing in the classroom that could be a poster session? #NYCSchoolsTechChat
Q5 What is something you immediately put into practice after last years #NYCSchoolsTech Summit or hope to learn at this year’s Summit? #NYCSchoolsTechChat
Q6 Go into those archives and share some photos from last year’s #NYCSchoolsTech Summit. #NYCSchoolsTechChat

Chat details are below:
Date: Thursday, May 3
Time: 7:00 pm
Topic: #NYCSchoolsTech Summit
Your Host: @eileen_lennon (@NYCSchools)
Co-Host: @InnovativeEdu (@NYCSchools)

Remember to respond using the hashtag #NYCSchoolsTechChat and include the number of the question you are answering in your response i.e. A1 and your answer.

We hope you can view the chat live, but if you are unable, please visit our archive at You can also participate in the chat at that link or if you have an iPhone download the app at

Sunday, April 29, 2018

After The Workshop: PD Comes to Life at PS 176

Innovative Educators understand the value of high-quality professional learning opportunities. They take what they learn and put it into practice in their schools and classrooms. I had the opportunity to connect with innovative educators who did just that during the annual Maker Faire at The Ovington Tinkering School in Brooklyn. At this school their motto is “Tinkers are Thinkers.” This Faire was conducted to showcase the work of all the tinkers who make up the school.  

But if it hadn’t been for the technology professional learning opportunities they attended, students never would have had the opportunity to dream big and engage in work that is worthy of the world.

From Summit & Workshops to Implementation

Principal Elizabeth Culkin explains the idea for this work came after she brought a team of teachers to the annual #NYCSchoolsTech Summit the year Dale Daugherty spoke.  She realized then that it was the work of her students that made up what Dale refers to as “The Greatest Show AND TELL On Earth.”

From there Culkin and her staff attended more tech summits, faires, workshops, camps, and certification programs to hone their craft and bring their learning to life in their school. The school's Tech Specialist, Stephen Amachee explained that one of the reasons he finds these workshops so valuable is that all material is available to participants digitally. Presentation materials, handouts, etc. That makes teaching the workshop back at their school to even more teachers possible.

Social Online Learning Provides Ongoing Support

In between these learning opportunities, the staff also turns to the power of their district’s online learning community #NYCSchoolsTech which connects tech learners and lovers (and those who support them) across New York City schools. There they receive ideas for inspiration and instant feedback for any questions or concerns that may arise when bringing what they learned back to their work.  

As a Teachers College Reading and Writing Project school, the staff teaches students that their work and voice can have a positive impact on the world.  The MakerFaire embraces that idea and highlights the school’s four core areas of focus where students aim to positively impact the world: Sustainability, engineering, robotics, and coding.

You can take a look at the innovative projects the students created in the photos below.

Your Turn

What do you think? How have you been inspired to bring back to your work, what you have learned during professional development opportunities?