Tag Archives: ed chat

3 Ways to Expand Your PLN This Summer

This is reblogged from my post on Daily Genius.


Summer is fast approaching; this is the time of year when teachers are preparing students for exams and trying to keep their classes from descending into the Lord of the Flies. When it finally arrives, summer is an important time for busy educators and allows them to relax, recharge, and often work on honing their craft in both formal and informal professional development. With the more flexible work schedule of the summer, it is also a great time to build up your Professional Learning Network (PLN) — especially one that expands beyond the walls of the classroom.

Here are a few resources to help you do just that:

Build your PLN on Twitter

Twitter has become the online PLN for teachers. If you haven’t yet explored Twitter as a professional development tool, then summer is a perfect time to do that. Check out this article to help you get started. Once you dive in, here are some great organizations and people to follow (in addition to this author of course):


  • @JohnKingatED – The Secretary of Education is an important individual to follow on Twitter. He will post updates on Public Education Policy and highlight various trends in education.
  • @TheJLV – Jose Vilson, Founder of #EduColor, Social Justice advocate, author, public speaker.
  • @globalearner – Alan November, a prominent educator, speaker, and education trainer.
  • @DrTonyWager – Expert in Residence at Harvard Innovation Lab, prominent author, and keynote speaker.
  • @Saradateachur – Sarah Thomas, Technology integrationist, social justice advocate, researcher, and prominent speaker.
  • @HeidiHayesJacob – Founder of Curriculum 21.
  • @web20classroom – Steven W. Anderson, educator, author, and evangelist.
  • @AudreyWatters – Educator and writer of @HackEducation
  • @AngelaMaiers – Educator, keynote speaker, author, and educational advocate.
  • @TomWhitbey – Educator, Tech Evangelist, and founder of #edchat.
  • @cybraryman1 – Former Librarian and Educator, Jerry Blumengarten, has resources on just about every topic imaginable including a massive list of PLN Stars.


  • @DailyGenius – Learn something new every day!
  • @EdTechTeacher21 – The official twitter handle for EdTechTeacher; learn tips and tricks, pedagogical methodology, and more.
  • @Microsoft_EDU – The official twitter handle for Microsoft.
  • @GoogleForEdu – The official twitter account for Google Apps for Education
  • @NPR_ed – NPR’s education team
  • @Edutopia – Learn about the latest posts and articles from innovative educators.

Follow a Blog

With summer comes a little extra time to do some reading. Here are a few blogs you should sign up for (in addition to this one). If you need help organizing your Blogs, or would prefer not to sign up for blog updates via email, try using an RSS reader. My favorite is feedly.

  • EDUWells – Richard Wells is an international leader in the world of education. Read about his experiments in the classroom as both a teacher and an administrator.
  • Jonathan Wylie – Every time I read Jonathan’s blog, I learn something new! Use his blog to learn new tips and tricks, explore existing tools, and for deeper discussions on effective pedagogy.
  • Cool Cat Teacher – I love Vicki’s blog. She explores everything from the emotional taxation of teaching to effective practice in the classroom.
  • The Principal of Change – Eric Sheninger is an educational leader that advocates the role of reflection in educational practice.
  • MindShift/KQED – MindShift explores everything from devices in the classroom to the need for recess. You will always learn something relevant to your classroom on this site.
  • Cult of Pedagogy – A digital magazine for educators.
  • Hybrid Pedagogy – A peer reviewed, online journal that explores the role of technology in education.
  • EdTechTeacher – Their instructors post a few times each week and cover topics from technology, to teaching, to the latest in research.
  • CMRubinWorld – Writer, Cathy Rubin, regularly interviews some of the most prominent educators in the world. Her monthly global blogger series also features great work from a range of educators.

Subscribe to a new Podcast

Podcasts are great ways to learn new things. Many of them are free, and you can find them in various places (iTunes Store, SoundCloud, Google Play, and more). Here are a few of my favorites:

Expanding Twitter, checking out new some blogs, and subscribing to podcasts are three easy, flexible, and free ways for educators to expand their PLN this summer (and even into the school year). Check out these examples and leave some of your own in the comments!

Infographic – The Teacher Turnover Problem

50% of teachers quit within the first five years. Why is that? What can we do to stop the high cost of teacher turnover? This great infographic by rossie online highlights the issue.

How to save our educators, infographic highlights the teacher turnover problem and how to fix it

Watch here for Live Blogging of the iPad Summit 2013: Atlanta

I have just arrived in the great city of Atlanta to attend the iPad Summit, hosted by Ed Tech Teacher, at Georgia Tech. In conjunction with the great editing skills of Beth Holland, I will be live blogging the summit again this Spring. Please check back here April 11 – April 12 for updates on various keynote talks and sessions. I wish I could attend them all!

I will also be presenting Friday morning at 9:15 on the iPad for Personal Professional Development.

So on tonights list: nap, work, gym, work, sleep… if I can. It’s kind of like the night before Christmas!

Independent Schools, Independent Teachers: Freedom and Responsibility – Independent Schools, Common Perspectives – Education Week

Independent-Schools_Common-PerspectivesThe other day a thread appeared on the National Association of Independent Schools online communities speculating on aspects of the great freedom that independent school teachers have to create curriculum and assessments suited to their strengths and to the particular needs and interests of their students and their schools. This got me to thinking.

This freedom has long been a classic double-edged sword. The virtues of “teacher autonomy” in independent schools were extolled to me even before I entered the field back in the Nixon era. As another veteran of that era commented in response to an earlier post here, the idea long prevailed in many schools (and perhaps still does in some) that a teacher would be taken to the door to the classroom, handed a textbook (a.k.a. the “curriculum”), and assured that paychecks would clear until June, short of some act that would rate firing for cause. What happened in the classroom would, by some sort of gentleman’s agreement, stay in the classroom, and the teacher would seldom be inconvenienced…


Today, I Let my Students Make Their Own Quiz

Tomorrow is the last day of instruction and I decided (a week ago) to give my students a quiz. I wanted one more opportunity for those with low quiz grades to bring them up and to keep them on track as the semester closes (an achievable goal right at the end). Today, I had an idea and presented it to my students:

“Today,” I said, “I’m offering you the opportunity to write your own quiz. I have already prepared one. However, if you make one as good, or better, than mine we will use yours.” I also explained the rules to the kids:

  • There must be at least 20 questions; they may be multiple choice, true/false, or short answer.
  • There are no freebies (after all, they’re all freebies as they made them). If they gave a multiple choice question, the options had to be feasible, e.g. a question about Julius Caesar couldn’t include “possible answers” like “Joe Jonas” or “Tom Cruise”
  • Every student must submit one viable question.
  • One student had to write it and disseminate it to the class (and me)
  • Two students served as ‘moderators’ – they recorded answer, decided if they were appropriate, and ensured that everyone spoke in turn.

I will say that I was immensely surprised by the results. In all but one of my classes, the activity went off without a hitch. The students were excited to participate, looked up their old notes, they wrote some really specific questions and even included dates (the cryptonite of all history students). I did make a few changes – largely spelling, switching around the multiple choice, or cleaning up the verbiage. However, over all they produced good work – their quizzes were far harder than any of mine! Even more impressive, they worked together as a group to achieve their end results. I felt like the students actually learned the topics, studied them, and then worked hard to make a ‘hard quiz.’ And they achieved this goal together.