A Tale of Failure, Passion and Drive (pun intended): Meet Andrew Stillman, the Godfather of EduScripts

This blog post was originally posted at Education Week Teacher and was written by Jennie Magiera.

For Connected Educators Month, I decided to connect with some educators… through Google Hangouts. I reached out to some folks who I believe are making positive change in the world of teaching and learning and asked them to join me for a quick video chat to learn more about how they got started, what drives them and what the future holds. The first in this series is Andrew Stillman, the godfather of edu-scripts.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Google Scripts, now being ported over to “Add-Ons“, they are simple tools that run behind Google Apps to make your life easier and more automagical. One of the most popular of these is Doctopus, a handy Google spreadsheet add-on that virtually copies and distributes assignments through Google Drive (and much, much more). Doctopus, along with an entire menagerie of whimsically-named scripts and add-ons, comes from the intriguing mind of Andrew Stillman.

In this interview, we learn about how Andrew got started with scripting, the origin story of Doctopus (a funny anecdote with a Dan Callahan cameo), how his organization supports his work, and some of his hopes for the future of this endeavor.

You can find more of Andrew and his teams’ work at their Cloud Lab site.

About the author

Jennie MagieraJennie Magiera is the digital-learning coordinator for the Academy for Urban School Leadership, a network of 29 Chicago Public Schools. She previously taught math to 4th and 5th graders. As an Apple Distinguished Educator, Google Certified Teacher, and Chicago Public School’s 2012 Tech Innovator of the Year, Jennie has been working to redefine education through effective technology use. You can follow her on Twitter at @MsMagiera and at TeachingLikeIt’s2999.

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Help Connected Educator Month continue and grow–and win a free trip to ISTE 2015, too!

For every $50 you donate or raise between now and November 6 to support Connected Educator Month, you’ll have another chance to win a free trip to ISTE 2015

Win a trip to ISTE 2015

You can also win a trip to Norway (as the guest of the founder of CEM Norway), hardware, professional development opportunities, online shopping sprees, even online community pioneer Howard Rheingold’s hat, with more prizes yet to come.

The beauty of crowdfunding (the new community-based way to raise money online) for a popular event like CEM is that it only takes each of us contributing very small amounts of money, or asking friends and family to do so, to add up to hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars to support connected education.

Your support–whether as a fundraiser or a donor–will help us:

  • Provide basic support for the event so it can continue, and allow it to continue to grow sustainably
  • Increase outreach to less-connected educators; develop more programs and resources to help bring them on board
  • Support connected education and connected education activities year-round, not just during October, including innovations in the field
  • Expand the event to involve more stakeholders in the US and around the world, to magnify its impact as a force for change

It takes only a minute or two to donate or set up a fundraising page, and we’ll be providing you with as much support as you want/need if you decide you want to fundraise–templates, tips, and more (let us know).

Enter now!

P.S. The anonymous donors to the campaign aren’t competing with you for these prizes–they’ve all recused themselves!

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Words Matter: Are you talking about technology, or are you talking about learning?

This blog post was written by Krista Moroder, Professional Development Manager at Digital Promise and ISTE Young Educator Network LeaderISTE is leading the theme Leadership for Change during Connected Educator Month.

I still remember the first time I held a voluntary workshop on Google Docs for a staff of 100 teachers. I called it “10 Ways to Use Google Docs in Your Classroom”.

wordsFive people showed up.

A week later, I was eating lunch in the staff lounge and heard a colleague say, “They always have an excuse for not turning their work in. They forgot to bring it home, they lost their flash drive, their printer wasn’t working, yada yada”.

I immediately piped up: “You know, have you thought about using Google Docs? Their work is stored online, so they can access it from anywhere”.

“OH! That’s great! Can you show me?”.

A week later, I held another workshop. I called it “No Excuses: Anytime, Anywhere Access to Student Work (For You & Them!)”.

So many people showed up that we ended up spilling into another computer lab.

I learned a valuable lesson that day: words matter.

In schools all over the nation, “technology coaches” are being hired, “technology workshops” are being held, and classrooms are getting “flipped” and “blended”. Every time we find a way to be more efficient or effective, we come up with a new acronym or word for it. Instead of “connecting with other educators”, we build a “PLN.” Instead of “giving students access to resources,” we “go 1:1 with a blended learning approach.”

Can we please stop?

I worry sometimes that we’ve become so exclusive with our language that we are pushing people out of the conversations they should be a part of. Do parents know what we are talking about when we use this jargon? Do WE even know what we are talking about anymore?

Think for a second about how much the world has changed since the rise of the Internet. Technology has completely transformed the way that businesses operate, and yet, they don’t find a need to use the jargon we’ve created for the way learning now happens.

  • When the marketing head of a company started connecting with others through LinkedIn, he didn’t say he was “building a PLN.” He was connecting with others.

  • When the car mechanic wanted to learn a new system, she didn’t say she was “exploring OERs through a blended, flipped approach.” She was using her resources.

Technology was only a tool to make what they were trying to do more efficient and more effective. We need to start viewing technology in education with the exact same perspective, and nothing more.

Imagine what would happen if we stopped using all of the jargon that we’ve created.

Instead of saying this…

..we could say this!

“Yay, my students all have digital portfolios this year!”

“Yay, my students show evidence of their learning!”

“I spent a lot of time this summer helping other teachers get started in our learning management system.”

“I spent a lot of time this summer helping other teachers organize their resources more effectively.”

“I use clickers and surveys in my class.”

“I collect feedback really fast in my class, so I know immediately when I need to re-teach something!”

“I’ve really worked on making my classroom paperless and digital this year; my students use cloud collaboration software in my class.”

“My students can access their work from anywhere and can work together on the same files.”

“I’m working on flipping my classroom and using a blended learning approach this year with OERs.”

“I’m working on giving my students better access to learning resources this year.”

“We’re doing a lot with makerspaces and project-based learning this year.”

“Our students create things.”

“I can’t wait for this #edchat with my PLN!”

“I can’t wait to connect with other people who have similar goals to me.”

“I’m trying to put all of my resources in a learning management system this year.”

“I’m trying to give my students 24/7 access to my classroom so they can go at their own pace.”

“I want my students to have 21st-century skills and be college and career ready.”

“I want my students to have the skills they need NOW, in today’s world.”

Our teachers became teachers to teach. Let’s respect that and focus back on what they do every day in their classrooms. Let’s stop giving workshops on “Google Docs” or “Flipped Classrooms.” Instead, let’s give workshops on “More Efficient Ways to Collaborate with Students” or “More Effective Ways to Deliver Direct Content.”

 Let’s stop talking about technology and start talking about learning.


About Krista Moroder

Krista Moroder

Krista Moroder is currently the Professional Development Manager at the Congressionally-authorized nonprofit Digital Promise, and supports eight schools across the country on a 1:1 implementation and documentation project. Krista has also worked on a micro-credentialing initiative for teacher professional development, as an education technology consultant and conference speaker, as a district instructional technology coordinator, and as an English and video production teacher. After developing the Ed Tech Challenge, a personalized professional development framework, Krista was selected as the 2013 ISTE Young Educator of the Year. Krista was also recruited to serve as an advisor for multiple organizations, including ISTE, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, and the Google in Education team. Her double life has included designing websites, photography & videography, theater technical work, and archery. Say hi on Twitter! @kristamoroder

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This Week’s Best of the Web Roundup: October 24

Best of the Web RoundupWelcome to our Best of the Web roundup for Connected Educator Month! Each Friday we’ll post our favorite links from throughout the week from all around the web. What will you find here? Resources and guides, free webinars, thought provoking posts, videos, and more. Dig in!

Want to get into our Best of the Web roundup? Tweet your resource or post and tag @edconnectr and we promise to take a look at what you’ve got!

The importance of mental-health management

Since around the year 2000, teaching has often been cited as one of the most stressful professions to be in. In 2010 the NUT recorded an enormous 81.2% of teachers admitting they experienced some kind of stress, anxiety or depression at work. How can teachers make sure that they maintain a healthy mind? Anxiety, stress and NLP coaching expert Libby Seery explains how teachers can watch out for mental health issues that may go unaddressed. Read more

Free course: Blended Learning: An Introduction

“Blended Learning: An Introduction” from ASCD is designed to help you use technology to support classroom instruction and management. It was developed by Catlin R. Tucker, a Google certified high school English teacher and blended learning expert. View course

Self-guided Web 2.0 Tools Course

This self-guided course from Powerful Learning Practice using Web 2.0 tools, such as blogs, wikis, Twitter, and social networking/bookmarking sites, will help you begin to build your personal learning network and prepare you for participating in a connected learning community as a whole. View course

Video: Oversharing – Think Before You Post

Think before you post

Made in collaboration with our partner Flocabulary, the experts in educational hip-hop, this animated music video raps about the hazards of oversharing and emphasizes a thoughtful approach to digital footprints. Tweens, teens, and adults can laugh and learn about the ups and downs of communicating and connecting in the digital world. Watch now

Reflecting for Change, From Journaling to Blogging

davis-reflecting-for-change-journaling-blogging-460x345On the day of my college graduation, my math education professor cornered me to hand me a gift that would forever set the tone for my career in education. Dr. Vanessa Huse gave me a journal with a note inside telling me to use it for reflecting daily on three things that I could improve upon, as well as three things that had gone great. That was years ago. At the time, I thought that a journal was such an odd gift. Little did I know that this gift from a professor would be my ticket to becoming not only a reflective blogger, but also a growth-minded educator. Read more

Coding in the curriculum

At my current school, we have recently introduced a coding aspect to our curriculum from Year 3. Coding has, for the past few years, been used in isolation at various year levels and linked to the curriculum, but now with amazingly engaging and easy to follow programs and an open and easily adaptable curriculum it is at our fingertips ready to go! Read more

On developing grit

via UTWasatchWriting - @UTWRWP on Twitter

via UTWasatchWriting – @UTWRWP on Twitter

Learning Space Matters

Education is changing at a rapid pace. One thing that is often overlooked in education is the learning space. Learning space is determined by adults in most schools. The way learning space is organized highlights what the adults in a school value. Some schools value a safe and orderly/structured environment. A recent visit to one school showed an obvious preference to outdoor learning and project based learning. Some teachers at the elementary level have a carpet for students to sit on, but the students better stay in their square or else….School administrators often focus on state mandates and local goals such as standards, assessment, positive behavior intervention, student safety, technology integration, family involvement, reading programs, or closing achievement gaps. These are all important and require intentionality by principals and district leaders. In addition to all of the state and local requirements, learning space could change teaching and learning. If teachers and administrators took time to reflect on the importance of design, purpose, and space, they may find that the old structure is a barrier to student achievement. Read more

Connected Educators: Building Communities in Schools

As we near the end of Connected Educator month, it’s time to focus on connecting with not only our colleagues to share teaching strategies, but also with our entire school communities. It is only through connecting with everyone involved in a child’s education — teachers, administrators, coaches, librarians, counselors, parents, and more — that we can work together to create the most supportive environment for students. Continuity and connectivity are key to foster learning both inside and outside of the classroom. Read more

The Key to Empowering Educators? True Collaboration

A key theme this year during Connected Educator Month is how to move from merely connecting with other educators into collaborations that push pedagogy and the education conversation forward. A panel of educators who’ve made this kind of connection and collaboration the center of their work discussed the challenges posed by the current American education system and helped present a dream for what truly collaborative learning could look like. Read more

A Love Supreme: Reflections on Why We Continue to Teach | A Special #ce14 Presentation

Teaching Is - Untitled Page_edit_0Over the Summer of 2014, we launched a meetup of self-identified Black male educators hosted at The Center for the Study of Race & Equity in Education. What began out of a friendly conversation of our relative scarcity in classrooms transformed into an interdependent approach to move ourselves and others collectively forward in our practice. We came with various backgrounds, various experiences, and various questions about our positionality and our profession. Through impassioned dialogue, we landed on what we all felt to be a generative inquiry into our motivations to become educators, recognizing the overwhelming number of educators who leave the classroom in their first five years. We investigated the interrelatedness between what brought us into teaching and why we continue to stay in teaching. We present this podcast as an exhibit of truthful self-interrogation of unfinished thoughts from a moment in these conversations. Read more

Top Tweet

via Brianna Crowley - @AkaMsCrowley on Twitter

via Brianna Crowley – @AkaMsCrowley on Twitter

Get your free 13-page Twitter Guide for Teachers

Powerful Learning Practice’s free Twitter Handbook for Teachers is an interactive, 13-page guide to Twitter. This guide is for educators who are new to Twitter, or veterans to the social media platform who want to bring Twitter into their classrooms or grow their network. Is that you? Sign up to get your free instant download!

All Aboard the Connected Classroom

Throughout this October, edSurge is sharing articles, tools and resources on this fast-track journey of creating authentic learning for students and educators. Each week, they are releasing new resources for each part of the journey. Week 4 is Expanding Your Influence: Where do you go? Join in!

How to Search Twitter for Educational Content

6 Tech Tools that Boost Teacher-Parent Communication

It’s important to keep everyone — parents, students, and teachers — on the same page. In my teaching, I found that proactively reaching out to students and parents together helped a lot; I not only got fewer anxious emails from parents, but the parent-teacher-student communication chain became more constructive and productive. When everyone’s in the loop, a few things happen: 1) there’s more accountability for students; 2) parents often have fewer questions for teachers (and when they do, they’re more meaningful and constructive); and 3) there’s less anxiety all around because everyone knows what’s going on. Read more

Graphic: Employment vs. Entrepreneur-Oriented Education

Image via Jon Andrews – @jca_1975 on Twitter

Digital Citizenship Week Activities

Digital Citizenship Week is a great time to jumpstart, renew, or double down on your school’s commitment to engaging students in learning important digital citizenship skills. So explore these activities and pick the ones right for your school and community. Each activity links to all the materials you’ll need for implementation. Remember to add your plans to the Connected Educator Month calendar and tag them as “DigitalCitizenshipWeek.” Read more

5 Reasons I Want My Kids to Be Makers

img_6435I always get giddy this time of year in anticipation of the East Bay Mini Maker Faire. It is an explosion of learning, creativity, inquiry, art, play, experimentation and FUN! My interest is not only as a parent, but as an educator. I work at the George Lucas Educational Foundation, and our mission is to help improve the learning process by sharing “what works” in education. Over the years I have seen a lot of solid and innovative practices that are transforming how our kids learn.  But the one that I am the most excited about is making. Here are 5 reasons why. Read more


A Simple iPad Model For Teaching


At TeachThought, we love models and frameworks. In a single visual, they describe how things work–context, function, potential, and interdependence. So many emerging trends in education are, well, emerging. New. Alien. This can make them (the trend) intimidating, which is where models and frameworks come in–visuals that articulate ideas, and the often murky relationships between them. A good model will visualize abstraction, prioritize thinking, emphasize nuance, and otherwise simplify and communicate that which needs to be simplified and communication. Read more about this model

Graphic (and a laugh): sneaking tech into the classroom

"It's too bad some school still do not allow technology into the classroom." via @johnccarver on Twitter

“It’s too bad some school still do not allow technology into the classroom.” via @johnccarver on Twitter

Facing History: Flipped Classroom Resources for History Teachers

For more than 30 years, Facing History has believed that education is the key to combating bigotry and nurturing democracy. Through a rigorous investigation of the events that led to the Holocaust, as well as other recent examples of genocide and mass violence, students in a Facing History class learn to combat prejudice with compassion, indifference with participation, and myth and misinformation with knowledge. We work with educators throughout their careers to improve their effectiveness in the classroom, as well as their students’ academic performance and civic learning. Check out the resources

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Five Keys To Building A Culture Of Active Learning

This blog post was originally posted at ASCD’s In Service site and was written by Tony Frontier. ASCD is leading the theme Educator Professional Development & Learning during Connected Educator Month.

Five Keys To Building A Culture Of Active LearningThis week, ASCD is focusing on school culture as the highlighted Connected Educator Month (CEM) subtheme for the Educator Professional Development and Learning theme. Find CEM resources on ASCD EDge®.

A mission statement that includes the phrase “all students will become independent, life-long learners” rings hollow unless all students believe in their capacity to learn and develop skills to learn independently. For this to occur, educators need to be intentional in their efforts to help students see themselves as active producers of new insight, skill, and knowledge, not as passive consumers of schooling.

A school that strives to build students’ conceptions of themselves as independent learners will mindfully address these five key areas.

1) Motivation

Learning is a calculated effort. One’s motivation to attempt a task is based on a calculation of meaning, relevance, and perceived chance for success. Learners are more likely to attempt tasks that are meaningful and applicable to their current interests and needs. Learners yearn for relevance; they are more likely to invest effort in developing new concepts, skills, and understanding when they see how the content or skills can be applied in their everyday lives. Finally, learners are more likely to attempt tasks that they believe they can accomplish. What appears to be apathy or laziness may actually be a well-calculated effort to preserve one’s sense of self by avoiding failure.

2)  Engagement

Clarify the distinction between compliance and engagement. Compliance is a process of following rules to avoid punishment or earn rewards. Engagement is a process by which learners invest in opportunities because they see value in the work they are asked to do and take pride in the work they produce. This distinction matters profoundly; a school culture focused on compliance will view manipulation of rewards and threats as the only way to change student behaviors. A school culture focused on engagement will attempt to change student behavior by designing learning experiences that are better attuned to students’ need to engage in meaningful work and solve problems that are relevant to their lives.

Read the rest of this article at ASCD’s site


About Tony Frontier

Tony FrontierTony Frontier is a member of the ASCD Professional Learning Services Faculty and an assistant professor of leadership studies at Cardinal Stritch University. He is coauthor, with James Rickabaugh, of the recently published book, Five Levers to Improve Learning: How to Prioritize for Powerful Results in Your School (ASCD, 2014).


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Listen to the latest from Connected Educators Radio: The End of Teaching in Isolation, National Geographic, Confessions of a Connected Math Teacher

We have started a BAM Radio station that will feature connected goodness throughout the year called Connected Educators Radio. Tune in to Connected Educators Radio to hear the latest developments on connected educator initiatives around the globe, highlights from connected events and the back stories on the people and programs involved in the drive to connect the entire education community worldwide.Your show hosts: Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, Tom de Boor, Darren Cambridge.

Here’s the latest from Connected Educators Radio 

The End of Teaching in Isolation and the Future of Schools and Learning

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, Tom De Boor, Sara Trettin, James Liou

picIn this segment we talk about how teachers are  moving from isolation to connection, sharing and collaboration. Listen in as we discuss what this means for the future of education.

Follow: @lioujames @saraesuiter
@snbeach @dcambrid @edconnectr @bamradionetwork

Listen now


[Connected Educator Minute] National Geographic to Help Teachers Collaborate Worldwide

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, Darren Cambridge, Lina Gomez

picNational Geographic has a long history of bringing  people and cultures from the f far reaches of the world to us. Now they are helping teachers and classrooms from around the world connect, collaborate and share.

Follow: @GeoEducators @snbeach
@dcambrid @edconnectr@bamradionetwork

Listen now


[Connected Educator Minute] True Confessions of a Connected Math Teacher 

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, Darren Cambridge, Mark D James

picIn this segment we spend a minute with a math teacher who tells us what triggered him to connect with other math teachers and what happened when he did.

Follow: @mdjames67 @snbeach
@dcambrid @edconnectr@bamradionetwork

Listen now

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Two Flavors of Collaboration Evident during Connected Educator Month: Collaboration & Capacity Building, Weeks 1-2, Part 1

This blog post was written by Darren Cambridge, Director of Policy Research and Development, National Council of Teachers of English, on behalf of the Collaboration and Capacity Building theme curation team, which worked together to cover realted events and resources through the first two weeks of Connected Educator Month and met to identify key themes and examples. 

Discussion of collaboration was ubiquitous throughout the first two weeks of Connected Educator Month (CEM) 2014, ubiquitous enough that it’s going to take two blog posts, of which this is the first, to cover. That’s not just because of the volume of events, however. Synthesizing the conversations about collaboration is challenging because of the many ways in which participants in CEM use the term.

One way to think about the many uses of collaboration is through the distinction  Steven Downes makes between collaboration and cooperation. In collaboration, the individual works as part of a whole. An individual’s contribution is part of a collective effort toward mutually agreed goals. I’ll call this way of thinking about collaboration “collaboration as teamwork.” In cooperation, each individual is pursuing her own goals, but by doing so in relationship to a network, she benefits from the intersection of her work and that of others. The social relationship between individuals is an emergent property of the network rather than an intentionally created group. I’ll call this form of collaboration “collaboration as cooperation.”

Collaboration & Capacity Building

Collaboration as Cooperation

Collaboration as cooperation was prominent in blogs and Twitter chats throughout the first two weeks of CEM. For example, during a #caedchat, participants said they valued making connections through their participation in networks because, in the words of @EdtechBUSB, it “opens a wider door.” They benefit from hearing perspectives to which they might otherwise not have been exposed. Connecting through personal learning networks, especially via Twitter, also provides a way to get questions answered quickly and well, engages educators in reflection in dialogue with others, and provides a venue for sharing stories of practice. @JudyArtz suggests it also provides reach, enabling collaboration across disciplines and beyond the education field, on both local and global scales.

In a blog post on Edutopia and in his new book The Relevant Educator (coauthored with Steve Anderson), Tom Whitby argues that collaboration as cooperation should be the new normal for all educators. It “requires a mindset of believing there is room to learn and grow. It is also a belief that we are smarter collectively than individually.”

Collaboration as Teamwork

The need for collaboration as teamwork, not just collaboration as cooperation, was evident throughout Connected Educator Month 2013. This year is no different. Collaboration as teamwork also received significant attention during the first two weeks of CEM, particularly by those participants focused on building the collective capacity of schools, districts, and communities, not just that of individual educators. This type of collaboration is arguably harder to pull off than cooperation through looser networks. However, there are research-based principles for doing it well.

Collaboration is particularly powerful as a form of professional learning. Here, collaboration is enacted through groups of educators engaging in organized and sustained inquiry focused on improving student learning. During the Good Teaching Summit, organized by the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF), René Islas from Learning Forward pointed to research-based standards for professional learning that align with this definition. Effective professional learning is characterized by continuous improvement, collective responsibility, peer-based accountability, acceptance of experimentation, and alignment.

Similarly, the National Center for Literacy Education (of which NCTAF and Learning Forward are both stakeholder organizations) has synthesized research on effective collaboration and professional learning to define a capacity-building framework with six domains:

  1. Deprivatizing practice
  2. Using evidence effectively
  3. Creating collaborative culture
  4. Maintaining an inquiry stance
  5. Enacting shared agreements
  6. Supporting collaboration systemically

These two examples suggest that teachers, principals, and superintendents seeking to support collaboration as teamwork need not fly blind. There is a substantial body of research on effective collaboration around which organizations such as these have developed resources and tools.

It is clear from this body of research that collaboration as teamwork depends on teams having access to both appropriate evidence of student learning and information about research on relevant and effective instructional practices. For example, the limitations of high-stakes testing data as evidence to inform collaboration was a key theme in the New Frontiers in Assessment Hot Seat discussion with Scott Filkins, high school teacher and author of Beyond Standardized Truth: Improving Teaching and Learning through Inquiry-Based Reading Assessment. Filkins and the other participants in the discussion pointed to formative assessment techniques, including systematic observation of students in action (“kidwatching”) and collective examination of student work, as essential to providing the fuller picture of student learning that collaboration requires.

In a webinar, leaders of the PowerUp What Works project demonstrated the importance for collaboration of content that presents research in accessible and usable formats. PowerUp WhatWorks provides a comprehensive collection of information about research-grounded best practice in the use of technology in the classroom and helps educators integrate it into professional learning.

Collaborative Instruction

Collaboration as teamwork may extend beyond professional learning outside the classroom to collaborative approaches to instruction itself, ranging from coordinated assignments across subjects, to teachers co-teaching classes, to more comprehensive models such as NCTAF’s Learning Studios, in which teams and teachers from multiple subject areas, students, and experts from the community work together over the course of the year to solve real-world STEM problems. Here too there is research to guide collaborative practice. For example, in an article contributed to CEM by MiddleWeb, Elizabeth Stein points to seven principles originally developed through research on instructional coaching that can be applied to co-teaching: equality, choice, voice, dialogue, reflection, praxis, and reciprocity.

Because collaboration as cooperation and collaboration as teamwork contribute to educators’ professional learning and practice, we hope to learn more through the rest of Connected Educator Month about how they can work together. Last year’s CEM also engaged with this challenge, and out of that work emerged a Future Ready Professional Development Toolkit that the US Department of Education will release in conjunction with an event at the White House next month. Watch this space for more details about that resource.

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Capacity Building: Linking PD And Practice

ASCD is leading the Educator Professional Development and Learning theme for Connected Educator Month 2014, and this week’s subtheme focuses on planning and designing professional learning.This post by ASCD Professional Learning Services Faculty member Pete Hall describes important considerations for planning professional development to build educator capacity. Click here to register for Hall’s free webinar, coming this Wednesday at 3 p.m. eastern time. Use promo code CEM14 to receive 20 percent off his book Building Teachers’ Capacity for Success: A Collaborative Approach for Coaches and School Leaders.

Recently, we’ve heard the term capacity building used more and more frequently. But what does this term really mean, and how does it manifest itself in education circles? My desktop dictionary defines capacity as “the amount that can be contained.” This conjures up an image of the human heart and how much capacity it has for blood.

Capacity-building-post-300x300However, at ASCD, we believe in the expansiveness of capacity. We believe capacity can grow, strengthen, and increase, like the heart’s capacity for love.

It’s an alluring concept, to say the least, to believe we are capable of building our teachers’ and leaders’ capacity to bring about change, to experience success, and to drive student learning. And it’s true. We can do just that, and engaging in true capacity-building work can have monumental effects on our student, teacher, team, school, and district outcomes.

ASCD has embraced a two-part model of capacity building in its publications and various professional development platforms (online, on-site, and in conferences). On one hand, we must build collective capacity, strengthening the ranks and building a cohesive team. This is done through the careful construction and nurturing of a professional learning community.

Read the rest of this article at ASCD’s site


About Pete Hall

Pete HallPete Hall is a veteran teacher, principal, educational leadership consultant, and author of several books, including Building Teachers’ Capacity for Success: A Collaborative Approach for Coaches and School Leaders. He is also a member of the ASCD Professional Learning Services Faculty. Follow him on Twitter at @educationhall.

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Connectedness in the Language Classroom: Leadership for Change

This blog post was written by ISTE Emerging Leader Ixchell ReyesISTE is leading the theme Leadership for Change during Connected Educator Month.

As a teacher of English as an additional language, one thought has always remained clear: prepare students for a world where they must communicate accurately and share their knowledge and talent with their community. 

Some of my students are from countries where political unrest is under-reported and understated in the nightly news.  They arrive in the U.S. filled with wonder, awe, and often, fear of the unknown or what has been reported about us abroad. First order of business is to teach them how to read unspoken cues so that they can adapt while they study in America.

While grammar, communication, and writing lessons are extremely important in my intensive English courses, I stress to my students two things:

  • Strive to communicate as clearly as you can as everything boils down to communication
  • Do what you can with what you have and share what you’ve learned with the rest of the world (communicate!)

At first, these two points run the risk of being lost amidst the unavoidable language drills and assessment tests. Students wonder, how will I ever even manage to finish a degree in a different language? Through constant reminder that everything is connected and to find the relationship between success and struggle, my students come to see the meaning of these messages.

Careful planning and development of lessons that incorporate authentic language exchange helps my students begin to see that language shapes thinking, and that thinking shapes behavior, and ultimately that the combination of the two aspects can lead to action that pushes for change.

students studyingHow do I know that my students have come to understand this? Reflection is crucial in personal and professional growth, so I have students reflect after major projects and assignments. Mid-semester they begin listing in their reflections the ways their thinking has changed; they can see growth and recognize their development of a new perspective on the world based on those they’ve come in contact with, Americans or people from other countries.  This leads me to the last assignment I give to every student when they complete my class, homework for life: keep in touch; stay connected; communicate.

Many students write back to report how much they’ve changed once they return to their home countries. They often write that they hope to send their future children to study abroad so that they too, can gain that extra “set of eyes” through which they can view the world.

And this to me is connectedness through leadership. What someone might view as a simple act of teaching language does a lot more than the beholder sees. Giving language, the tools to communicate, is also giving a new perspective and a new set of tools to tackle difficult issues. On a grand-scale some of my students will one day be leaders in their countries, leaders who can through communication lead others to solve world problems like hunger, disease, poverty, and war.

About the author

Ixchell ReyesIxchell Reyes teaches at the USC International Academy and is an ISTE Emerging Leader. She is an avid fan of TV dramas, video games, and felines. You can follow her on Twitter @Ixy_pixy .  Ixchell serves as the Media Tech Team Coordinator for the CA Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages in the Inland Empire. Are you an ESOL teacher in California? Check out CATESOL! Website | Twitter | Facebook


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All the Connected Educator Month events you won’t want to miss October 22-28

It’s time for yet another week of Connected Educator Month goodness! Each Tuesday in October, we’ll post a roundup of featured events for the upcoming week. View the entire calendar hereIn this post are all the events you won’t want to miss October 21-28!  First, events from our theme leaders and sponsors:

E-Rate: Big Changes with More to Come

Jessica Rosenworcel

Jessica Rosenworcel

Tuesday, October 21, 4:00 – 5:00 pm EST

This summer, the FCC made sweeping changes to the E-Rate program, focusing its support on WiFi and eliminating non-broadband services. In a few weeks, it may approve more changes and more funding. Join this ISTE webinar, featuring remarks from FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, to get a handle on what’s in, what’s out and what’s coming for the E-Rate. Register here | Attend the webinar here

Webinar: Peek inside the Life of a Connected Learner with Powerful Learning Practice

PLP WEbinarWednesday, October 22 • 10:00am

Hosted by PLP co-founder & CEO and ISTE Board Member Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach. Spend an hour chatting with us and find out about our unique brand of coached, team-based professional learning and how to learn like connected learners do – through action research, lesson plan studies, virtual classroom visits, and more. Register for this free, one hour webinar, with many convenient dates and times (check the calendar or click the registration link for more upcoming dates). Seating is limited, so reserve your spot today!

ISTE Webinar: Developing Your Mobile Learning Landscape – From Readiness to Digital Citizenship

Thursday, October 23, 12:00 noon – 1:00 pm EST

Presented by Justina Nixon-Saintil, Yoly Ramos, Helen Crompton, Jenna Linskens, and Brandon Olszewski.

This webinar will introduce a powerful new professional learning experience for teachers, tech coaches, and administrators who are interested in bringing their school up to digital age standards. The Verizon Mobile Learning Academy (VMLA) is a free, facilitated, online professional learning course for educators focusing on developing mobile learning at the school or district level. Funded by ConnectED partner the Verizon Foundation and designed by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), this 10-week course covers key areas for mobile learning integration efforts, including assessing institutional readiness, frameworks on technology integration, mobile lesson development, management strategies, and digital citizenship. Successful completion of the course also results in CEU’s from Johns Hopkins University School of Education for participants, all at no cost to schools and districts! Come and meet ISTE faculty to develop your own understanding about mobile learning, and learn about an amazing opportunity to take mobile learning at your school to the next level!

Connected Cafe Twitter Chats

connected-cafeConnected Cafe is a series of Twitter chats (#ce14) each Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 7-8pm EDT throughout October, co-sponsored by ISTE and CTQISTE Board Member and Connected Educator Month co-leader Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach will facilitate the #ce14 chat. Our guest hosts will interact with the moderator and other participants around their area of expertise as it relates to connected learning or leadership for change.

Here’s what’s coming up this week during Connected Cafe:

Krista Moroder

Krista Moroder

Tuesday, October 21 • 7:00pm – 8:00pm

Empowering Teachers to Become Learners

Guest: Krista Moroder, Professional Development Manager at Digital PromiseISTE Young Educator Network Leader


Brianna Crowley and Jessica Cuthbertson

Brianna Crowley and Jessica Cuthbertson

Wednesday, October 22 • 7:00pm – 8:00pm

Teacherpreneurs – What Are They?

Guests: CTQ teacherpreneurs Brianna Crowley and Jessica Cuthbertson


Torrey Trust

Torrey Trust

Thursday, October 23 • 7:00pm – 8:00pm

Critical Skills For Connected Educators

Guest: Torrey Trust, Ph.D, Assistant Professor of Learning Technology at University of Massachusetts Amherst, ISTE PLN leader

Capacity-Building: Linking Professional Development and Practice – ASCD webinar

Wednesday, October 22 • 3:00pm – 4:00pm

In this webinar, Pete Hall discusses ASCD’s approach to capacity building within a school system, addressing these questions and more. Hall, an award-winning educator and author of Building Teachers’ Capacity for Success, will emphasize the development of educators’ reflective skills and tendencies to augment the technical proficiencies that enhance our professional practice.

In a strengths-based, coaching-oriented model, Hall will share how we can strengthen organizations by simultaneously bolstering our individual and collective capacity. This webinar includes tips for school leaders, decision makers, teachers, and anyone with an interest in increasing educator effectiveness. Register here.

U.S. Department of Education Webinars

What are Future Ready Schools and Classrooms?

Wednesday, October 22 • 8:00pm – 9:00pm

Amid all of the conversation of buying devices, bringing Internet to and through schools, and adopting digital content, it can be easy to lose track of a focused vision. Without a vision for what teaching and learning can and should be in schools and classrooms, though, districts run a high risk of paying for resources that are underused, misused, or not used at all. Join as our panelists discuss the moves they’ve made to leverage connectivity, digital content, and devices to expand and deepen the learning of students in their districts. Let their examples help shape a clear vision and goal for digital learning. Join the conversation.

Designing and Evaluating Effective Online Communities of Practice

Thursday, October 23 • 1:00pm – 2:00pm

Presented by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology and in conjunction with the release of The Connected Community: Exploratory Research on Designing Online Communities of Practice publication, this webinar will feature researchers and community leaders discussing what it takes to develop online communities of practice that produce value. In particular, the panel will discuss how online communities create value, the features of online communities that produce value, and questions community designers should consider when launching an online community of practice. Join the conversation.

How Do We Support Future Ready Teaching?

Tuesday, October 28 • 8-9 pm

A district with a clear vision that lacks the capacity to put that vision to practice might as well have no vision at all. Join our panelists as they discuss the various ways their districts have implemented structured efforts to build capacity of practice for their teachers to ensure resources are used to personalize digital learning in a way that is aligned with their districts’ visions. Join the conversation.

Weekly Blended Learning Tweetups & Panels sponsored by CUE

tweetupTweetups happen every Tuesday in October at #ce14 and #blendedlearning on Twitter. This week: Blended Learning Reflections & Insights - Tuesday, October 28 • 8:00pm – 9:00pm TweetUp Topic: What are your reflections and insights from participating in the blended learning strand during connected educator month?

Panel 4: Reflections and Insights about Blended Learning with CUE

Monday, October 27. 7:00-8:30 EST / 4:00-5:30 PST

The purpose of this webinar is for participants to share their insights and reflections about blended learning. In particular, reflecting on any of the activities from the Connected Educator Month blended learning strand. Whether you viewed a webinar recording, saw a Tweet, or participated in the discussion forum, join this webinar to share your reflections and insights.

Registration is free, but please register and add to your Connected Educator Month calendar

New Frontiers in Assessment Hot Seats with NCLE

The dominant practices in assessment today have not kept pace with what we know about how students learn. To help broaden the conversation about assessment, NCLE will be putting an expert or team of experts on innovative approaches to assessment on the “hot seat” each week in October. Each week’s guest(s) will participate throughout the week in a conversation about their work and the questions it raises about the future of assessment in an online discussion forum. Anyone is welcome to join the conversation at ncle.vanillaforums.com.

October 20-26 - Owen Astrachan, Professor of the Practice of  Computer Science and Director of Undergraduate Studies at Duke University and Lien Diaz, Senior Director, AP Program, College Board

Owen Astrachan and Lien Diaz are co-principal investigators for the AP Computer Science Principles (CSP) project. CSP is a new high school Computer Science course, slated to become an official AP course in 2016-2017, that focuses on the creative aspect of computing and computational thinking practices that enable students to experience how computing impacts their everyday lives. The design of the course is innovative, and so is the associated AP assessment, which is currently under development. The assessment includes a number of performance tasks that students complete both individually and collaboratively, submitting reflective writing about the tasks as well as their products, all of which is to be evaluated using rubrics.

Creating Inter-organizational Collaboration for Educational Transformation (CrICET) Webinars

CrICET: Learning Studios - Thursday, October 23, 3 PM – 4 PM ET

Melinda George, Elizabeth Foster, and Don Glass, National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future 

The National Commission on Teaching and America’s Learning Studios model engages teams of students and teachers with outside experts to learn STEM through extended, authentic, collaborative projects. The speakers will share the model and what we can learn from it about improving the structure and outcomes of education.

CrICET: Networked Learning Communities -  Tuesday, October 28, 10 AM – 11 AM ET

Mark Hadfield, Cardiff University and Michael Jopling, Northumbria University

The Networked Learning Communities (NLC) program engaged over 134 school networks across the UK, involving approximately 35,000 staff and over 675,000 pupils between 2002 and 2006. Many of these networks continue and have stimulated further collaboration. The speakers will share their experience with the NLC model, how it has influenced subsequent work, and its implications for future educational improvement.

Webinars with ISTE Mobile Learning Network

downloadMonday October 27

Check out these webinars on mobile learning from ISTE.

Let the Writing Talk: What the Work of the National Day on Writing Teaches Us About Assessment

download (1)Thursday, October 23 • 7:00pm – 8:00pm

For the National Day on Writing, thousands of young authors are writing about their communities, using not only text, but also images, videos, and more. What does this diverse collection of writing have to say about literacy today? How can we assess its quality, and what insights does that provide on how to support literacy education? A panel of distinguished educators, all experts on assessing reading and writing, will examine selections from the collection and reflect together on these questions.

Creating a global classroom with Ann S. Michaelsen

Tuesday, October 28 • 1:00pm – 1:45pm

7 steps to create a global classroom using the advice from the book “Connected Learners” written by students and teacher Ann Michaelsen with examples from the classroom.


Saturday, October 25 & Sunday, October 26, check out all these great edCamps. What’s an edCamp you ask? edCamp is a 1-day “unconference.” It is a chance for those in education (teachers, administrators, etc) to get together, network, share and learn. The day is planned during the kick off at the beginning of the day where any participant can propose a session idea/topic to the session list. All sessions are laid out and then everyone attends sessions they want during the rest of the day.

Other top events to check out:

Digital Citizenship Week by Common Sense Education

October 19-25

digcitweek-graphic-748x707-01Celebrate the Second Annual Digital Citizenship Week – October 19-25. Join us to shine a spotlight on the importance of helping kids learn how to create safe, responsible digital lives. Check out these resources and learn how Common Sense Education’s whole-community approach engages everyone — from educators and students to parents, district officials, and community leaders.

Dig in and sign up here.

Book Talk with Danah Boyd, author of ‘It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens’

Wednesday, October 22 • 3:30pm – 4:30pm

Danah boyd is a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, a Research Assistant Professor in Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, and a Fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center. What is new about how teenagers communicate through services such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram? Do social media affect the quality of teens’ lives? In this eye-opening book, youth culture and technology expert danah boyd uncovers some of the major myths regarding teens’ use of social media. She explores tropes about identity, privacy, safety, danger, and bullying. Ultimately, boyd argues that society fails young people when paternalism and protectionism hinder teenagers’ ability to become informed, thoughtful, and engaged citizens through their online interactions. Yet despite an environment of rampant fear-mongering, boyd finds that teens often find ways to engage and to develop a sense of identity.

Webinar: Getting ready for teaching & learning online

Wednesday, October 22 • 11:00pm – 12:00am

This is a hands on workshop for teachers who are keen to participate in online learning with the VLN Primary School. Whether you are supporting students who are online learners (mTeacher) or if you are teaching online yourself (eTeacher), or if you just want to see how it all works; this ‘induction’ workshop will prepare you with the skills, knowledge and confidence to step out with your kids in the world of virtual learning. This workshop session will introduce you to the VLN Primary online learning initiative; you will learn how to use some online tools – Adobe Connect, Welearn & Google Docs to develop an online class, and explore some strategies for teaching and learning online.

Digital Citizenship Twitter Chat (#Digcit)

Wednesday, October 22 • 7:00pm – 7:00pm

Digital Citizenship Chat (#digcit) takes place on Twitter every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month at 7 pm Eastern time. Tonight we will discuss the ways in which educators can contribute positively to their digital footprint. Follow and use the #digcit hashtag to join us!

STEM Basics for Educators

Wednesday, October 22 • 8:00pm – 9:00pm

This webinar examines the integrated STEM initiative, the characteristics of a K-12 STEM program (with a middle school focus), and some tips for writing STEM lessons.

STEM Pathways presented by SmartBrief Education

Thursday, October 23 • 10:00am – 12:00pm

SmartBrief’s Education team is launching STEM Pathways, a roundtable series that aims to explore real-world ways in which education and industry can work together to address skill gaps and guide students toward careers in STEM fields. Talking points for the roundtable include:

  • How can associations take a leadership role in developing and promoting STEM programs that help fill workforce needs?
  • How can industry and education come together to solve these problems?
  • What are the barriers and resistance points to these types of STEM programs?


Webinar: ECE ONLINE – Connect, collaborate and build your professional learning network

Thursday, October 23 • 1:00am – 2:00am

ECEOnline is a free online community for anyone interested in young children’s education. In this workshop, Justine will introduce the ECEONLINE community and how you can use this to connect with others, share information and build a learning network. Contact: Justine Mason, CORE Education (justine.mason@core-ed.org)

Scholastic Mini-PD: The Future of Blended Learning

Thursday, October 23 • 7:00pm – 7:45pm

Join us for a Scholastic Mini-PD discussion focused on “The Future of Blended Learning.”

Through this 40-minute, interactive panel discussion, you will:
1) Learn about the concept of “blended learning” and how it’s being effectively implemented in schools around the country.
2) Dig deep into trending topics, such as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), access to broadband, and the rapid improvement of student access to tech.
3) Gain insights into where the leading minds in ed tech see blended learning 10 years from now.

How to Support Blended Learning Teachers: Tips, Tools and A Rubric

Friday, October 24 • 4:00pm – 5:00pm

Transforming instructional practice can be hard without the proper tools and supports in place. Ed Elements developed a rubric in collaboration with several public school coaches based on our work with 2000 teachers and coaches. Join this session where we will discuss the rubric, the hows and the whys of teacher support. Want to read the rubric ahead of time? You go getter you! Check it out here.

Monarch Butterflies and Citizen Science

Monday, October 27 • 6:30pm – 8:00pm

This web seminar will explore the web site associated with the IMAX filmFlight of the Butterflies for educational resources and activities and discover resources available for tracking and monitoring monarch butterflies. The presenters will be Jim O’Leary from the Maryland Science Center and Katie-Lyn Bunney from the University of Minnesota. Jim and Katie-Lyn will share information about engaging students with the migration habits and life cycle of monarch butterflies through hands-on projects.

WEBINAR: Moving towards 1:1 devices – exploring different approaches and lessons learned

Monday, October 27 • 10:45pm – 11:30pm

Lesley Murrihy, principal Amesbury School and Mark Quigley, DP Orewa College will share:

  • why they chose a 1:1 approach
  • how they implemented 1:1
  • changes/benefits for students and teachers
  • lessons learned

This is an interactive webinar and participants will have time to ask questions of Lesley, Mark, and Howard Baldwin from the Ministry of Education.

Using Educational Technology in the Classroom

Tuesday, October 28 • 4:00pm – 5:00pm

Digital learning tools are becoming ever more common in K-6 classrooms. With this shift, teachers are looking for high-quality content for students that allows them to differentiate instruction and assess student comprehension.

In this TIME For Kids webinar we’ll offer tips on how to incorporate multimedia across the curriculum, with suggestions from TFK teachers.

Social Media for School Branding Tweetchat

Tuesday, October 28 • 8:00pm – 9:00pm

Learn the basics of school branding–from logos to mottos to messaging and more–in this tweetchat presented by the National Association of Elementary School Principals & the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association. Jump in and swap your favorite strategies for sharing your school’s story.

Webinar: Communication in the mathematics classroom

Tuesday, October 28 • 10:45pm – 12:00am

Leadership in mathematics. Research tells us that student interaction – through classroom discussion and other forms of interactive participation – is foundational to deep understanding and related student achievement. But implementing discussion in the mathematics classroom can be challenging. This webinar will explore effective practices that encourage student discourse and productive mathematical discussion. The teacher plays a vital role to orchestrate high level mathematical reasoning through questioning and the use of “talk moves”.

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