• How to drink from a fire hose...

    Posted by Christopher McCaffrey at 11/1/2013 3:00:00 PM

    Currently I am using Feedly to collect all the blogs that I follow so I can read them at a time when it suits my schedule.

    Fire hose
    As CEM comes to a close here’s how you can learn a bit about how you can fit in connecting, in an already overbooked life, from Spring Ridge librarian Collette Jakubowicz. Please check back for one last post for a wrap up of CEM and interviews from 3 Wilson world travelers.
    "Using any technology can seem daunting and unrealistic in the face of numerous added responsibilities each school year. The trick, I’ve found, is to find the right technology tools that “click” for you and the students you teach. Let me explain... Pennsylvania school librarians have an e-mail listserv that any member can post questions to, and we all help answer each others’ questions. The first time I asked about resources on a certain topic, within 10 minutes several librarians offered websites, books, and advice, all in 10 minutes! That was powerful, and that’s when it “clicked” for me! Since then, I’ve become more active in answering other librarians’ questions and in asking for advice / ideas on the listserv. When I first started teaching in 2006, blogs and RSS (real simple syndication) readers clicked for me when I realized I could read all my blogs in one place. Currently I am using Feedly to collect all the blogs that I follow so I can read them at a time when it suits my schedule.
    A few years later, creating my own professional blog clicked when I realized there weren’t nearly as many elementary librarian blogs in existence versus secondary librarian blogs, and I wanted to help other elementary librarians succeed. Since then, I’ve shared my Nook e-reader program (and other resources) with over 200 educators, many of whom are practicing librarians.
    Last school year, Pinterest clicked for me when I found out it wasn’t just recipes and craft projects, but also a visual search engine for practical teaching ideas from real practicing teachers. And while it’s occasionally a black hole for my time, pinning has become an enjoyable way to connect with other educators through their blogs and TeachersPayTeachers products.
    Despite having a Twitter account for over a year now, Twitter finally clicked for me this school year when I wanted to start a makerspace, something that I don’t believe anyone else is doing at Wilson. By tweeting with the #makered and #makerlib tags, I connected with 4 other teacher-librarians who have makerspaces, and I benefited from their expertise and experience.
    Technology can often feel overwhelming and “just one more thing” on a teachers’ to-do list, so I really encourage teachers to learn about ONE useful tech tool at a time! Just one. And if you aren’t sure which tool would best suit your students’ needs, ask your librarian! I am absolutely convinced that finding the right tool and making it “click” has enriched my teaching practice by connecting me with incredibly talented, creative educators, and modern tech tools have the power to do the same for every educator."
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  • Dipped their toes and jumped right in…

    Posted by Christopher McCaffrey at 10/30/2013 7:00:00 AM

    Come on, dip your toe in the pool!

    Several teachers have decided to use social media in their classroom and their practice here at Wilson. The following is just a short list of many teachers who are using social media in the classroom. Some for the very first time this month, others have been “around the pool” for a little longer, and still others are "swimming in the deep end". If you are using social media in your classroom, leave a link in the comments below the post, so others can see how the social media can be used in other classroom/professional settings. Check out the following web pages to see the different uses of social media with our students K-12. 

    Mrs. Snyder - Green Valley - 1st Grade


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  • Audio interview with Matt Bender about CEM...

    Posted by Christopher McCaffrey at 10/24/2013 2:00:00 AM

    Twitter is confusing…

    An interview with an Matt Bender, high school assistant principal and social studies supervisor, about his endeavors and reflections on being connected.
    WHS Helmet  
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  • To lurk or not, that is the question for a newbie.

    Posted by Christopher McCaffrey at 10/21/2013 8:00:00 AM
    Lurking ain't always bad.
    Dr. Stephen Burnham shares his experiences with learning how to leverage Twitter as a resource in his endeavors as Southern’s principal. Along the way he has gained a better understanding about the possible powerful relationship building through the service, as you can read from his reflections below.  
    For all of those newbies out there who are tweeting for the first time, I have some experiences to share and recommendations from a beginning user. I first tweeted in the spring of 2012, and I included the connected principals chat hashtag, #cpchat, to possibly have thousands of principals see my request for ideas.  

    While waiting for a tweet back, a direct message, a retweet, or anything for that matter, I decided to “lurk” through endless tweets related to educational topics. Lurking, as I am told, does not have to have a negative connotation in social media. “Lurking” is a social media term associated with perusing through social media content without directly contributing to the community. Lurking is a great way to become familiar with any particular social media service, and is even welcomed in educational social media realms. After waiting several days and not having anyone reply back, I honestly gave up. Since October was CEM, I decided to give Twitter another try. So in September, I tweeted:


    Once again after several days with no comments made, I decided to meet with a few people with more Twitter experience (Jennifer Diana, Chris McCaffrey and Dan Pichardo) who gave me some helpful hints and tips on how to navigate the Twittersphere. After being introduced to an app for my phone, TweetCaster, Jennifer gave me a listing of “Weekly Twitter Chats”, and Dan walked me through the site in more detail, which all helped me become more comfortable tweeting. I began to realize that Twitter is about connections and I decided to share a resource to @JohnFritzy. I offered a tip for him to check out http://flippedclassroom.org  for various videos to help him in setting up a flip classroom. In doing so, I forged a connection with a new colleague and since then I received several suggestions and advice that has helped me to think about various ways to assist my teachers. In addition, I have several connections to refer to if I have any questions or would like to reflect on and ideas or issues that arrive in education.

    As a result, I would suggest for anyone who is getting started to visit a relevant hashtag in order to “lurk” or to find people who are doing similar work. As time goes on, you can starting posting your own questions, but do not become discouraged if you are not getting any feedback. This will come with time after you begin to develop some connections!”
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  • Sharpen your virtual "pencils" with digital curriculum

    Posted by Christopher McCaffrey at 10/15/2013 5:05:00 AM

     Graphite - Common Sense Media

    Graphite™ is a free service, from nonprofit Common Sense Media, designed to help preK-12 educators discover, use, and share the best apps, games, websites, and digital curricula for their students by providing unbiased, rigorous ratings and practical insights from our active community of teachers. Graphite was built by teachers for teachers. Graphite’s dynamic community shares personal reviews and Field Notes about how to use specific learning products in the classroom.

    Come to the Open House to learn more about what Graphite offers and how to get involved!
    October 15, 2013
    04:00 pm - 05:00 pm EST
    If you register, generally these events will email you instructions on how to watch the archive at a time that works better for you. 

    Common Sense Media is a great resource for parents, teachers and students. If you have kids and haven't visited, you should. It allows you to understand any game, song, movie, etc... at a glance. Helping you make better informed decisions on how our kids consume media, which is sorely needed in our community and society.

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  • It’s raining, it’s pouring... the CT 5th graders surely weren’t snoring!

    Posted by Christopher McCaffrey at 10/11/2013 11:00:00 AM
    Extreme Weather When some 5th graders, at Cornwall Terrace last spring, began a unit on extreme weather they didn’t realize they would get to hangout live with members from the WGAL weather team. After the students learned about different types of extreme weather, how to keep themselves safe in extreme weather, studied famous extreme weather events, and the effects extreme weather can have on our lives, they got to ask questions to Christine Ferreira and Matt Moore from the WGAL weather team. Not only did they get to ask them questions, but they got a live virtual tour of the studio, as they used a Google Hangout to interact with the meteorologists between the lunch time and afternoon newscasts.
    The students were able to learn about extreme weather by investigating online resources provided by their teachers (Lindsay Kriebel, Sara Kahl and Lauren Peterson). The assignment was organized as a menu for groups of 2 to 3 students. The groups choose 1 appetizer, 3 side dishes and each group was responsible for completing the main entree. If a group finished early, they could complete the dessert activity or choose an additional side dishes. The assignment leveraged stories and activities from the district’s Treasures program, worked extensively on the writing process, and incorporated developing lifelong skills, by having the students complete extreme weather safety tasks.
    Once the students completed the unit they prepared to “hangout” with the meteorologists. Using Google Moderator, the students submitted questions and subsequently voted on their peers’ questions in order to pick which questions would be asked during the Google Hangout. The links below are to the different 5th grade classroom questions for the WGAL weather team.
    The students, teachers and especially the meteorologists, enjoyed the 40 minute Google Hangout in which the most popular questions from the Google Moderator series were asked by the student who submitted the question. In 3 different classrooms the students were able to see and talk with Christine and Matt as well as enjoyed a “behind the scenes” look of the WGAL studio, especially the green screen. All-in-all, the students had a great experience throughout the unit and the teachers, Matt and Christine can’t wait to do it again this spring.
     Christine Ferreira Matt Moore  
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  • An Interview with Educator Lisa Henry

    Posted by Christopher McCaffrey at 10/9/2013 1:00:00 AM

    Math educator Lisa Henry shares the value of being a contributor to conversations and communities as well as being a listener and consumer, and how to insure participation is a time-saver rather than a time-sink.


    Here’s a sample of questions that she answers in respect to being connected.

    Q: If I were an unconnected colleague you wanted to get more involved in connected education, what’s the first thing you’d send me, show me, or do with me?

    Q: What do you say to educators who say they don’t have time to be more connected?

    Q: What are the keys to making connectedness worth the time, even a time-saver rather than a time-sink?

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  • Tweeting Immediate History

    Posted by Christopher McCaffrey at 10/7/2013 7:00:00 AM

    From Justin Flamini

    HS Social Studies Teacher

    I enjoy utilizing Twitter in my classroom as both a tool for increasing professional connections and expanding the boundaries of student learning. My engagement with Twitter began in 2009 as a personal tool for keeping up with breaking news, professional interests, and personal hobbies. The immediacy of information and personal interaction was something I had not yet experienced at this level with social media. The more people and organizations I began to follow, the more benefits I saw from the interconnectivity of social media. Whereas social media only provided me with connections to high school and college friends, Twitter opened me up to an entire world of useful information and resources.
    I decided to open a professional Twitter account in hopes that my students could utilize social media in the same manner I began to utilize it; to extend interests beyond typical engagement, while also promoting responsible use of social media. History is an extremely important subject area for the development of a virtuous society and responsible citizenry. It is especially critical in the context of understanding current events. Providing my students with information to expand their classroom knowledge while also encouraging the importance of historical perspective is my biggest goal with social media in the classroom. Teachers have always struggled to include current events into a class period, and Twitter allows me to connect students with information at any time. Twitter is a realm younger people are becoming more familiar with. My use of Twitter in the classroom aims to promote responsible engagement with student and subject, using outlets most familiar to them. Relevance between history class and high school students’ lives may seem like a difficult task and I believe social media helps bridge the gap. History’s importance lies not in the people or dates, but its impact on today’s world.
    You can also check out Mr. Flamini's Pinterest page too to see more great resources he shares with his students. 
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  • Hangout with Malaria

    Posted by Christopher McCaffrey at 10/4/2013 1:00:00 AM

    Robin TimpsonGoogle Hangout

    HS Chemistry Teacher


    Students in Mrs. Timpson’s Science Ethics and Contemporary Issues class were inspired to research bed nets being used to fight Malaria, based on Amy Costello’s article, “Bed Nets for Malaria: Losing the Arms Race?”.  The students spent time looking into the ethical aspects involved in distributing bed nets coated with an insecticide to people in Africa .  the ethical issue centered around the argument that the nets were not effective after a few years due to the fact that the mosquitos genetically altered their resistance to the chemical.  After reading the article, they students generated many questions concerning the topic and were asked to further their research on the issue presented. Their research was guided by questions, which generated their annotated bibliographies. Having the students understand there are many sides to any issue, by further research, instead of just one article or one search result, is a lifelong skill that they will lean on throughout their academic, professional and personal lives.

    After the students finished their annotated bibliographies they were prepared to meet the author in a live Google Hangout. The students formulated questions which helped them to be prepared to ask questions and interact with the Mrs. Costello  about her experiences and her position on using bed nets to fight the disease. Amy spent 45 minutes discussing such things as what  got her interested in this topic, what her personal views were on the distribution of the nets, and her own personal experiences with Malaria.  Amy was a fantastic resource and often challenged the students with questions of her own - asking them to consider the ethics behind  using a technology that can save lives now but may be obsolete in the near future.

    Amy Costello is a writer, reporter, radio host and producer for Tiny Spark, whose tag line is “Igniting Debate About the Business of Doing Good”. Check out more about what she is doing and have accomplished at AmyCostello.com. Also, find more connecting opportunities on Education On Air and search through live or archived Google Hangouts to find something interesting to you or our students.

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  • Connected on “Principals”

    Posted by Christopher McCaffrey at 10/3/2013 1:00:00 AM
    Cornwall Terrace Principal

    Throughout the past year, the experiences and information that I have gained as a result of connecting with other educators in the land of social media has been a dream come true. I began connecting with other educators by participating in a variety of weekly chats on twitter less than a year ago. These chats happen once each week at a set time and revolve around specific areas of education. For example, a favorite team chat that I participate in is one moderated by @principalJ (Elementary Principal Jessica Johnson, co-moderator of #educoach, from rural Wisconsin) that focuses on instructional coaching practices and strategies at the elementary level. Another favorite chat is #PsycChat moderated by @emmauskevink. This week’s #PsycChat topic “What is intelligence?” is one that I am excited about!


    Although I began participating slowly in these conversations and opportunities, these connections quickly began to extend beyond the scheduled hour of the team chats. Now, the personal learning network (PLN) I am building of connected colleagues allows me to instantly share research, articles, ideas, and quick questions with educators, superintendents, principals, parents, students, and researchers all over the globe. This PLN also allows me to receive honest, immediate feedback about ideas, decisions, or projects if I ask for it. :)

    On October 1st, I received a tweet from @kleinerin that linked to an article, about teaching students understanding in the classroom. Before I could even finish reading and thinking about the ideas in this new blog post, I received a link from @tomwhitby to a new Kauffman sketchbook video, “Fixing Schools” which was being instantly re-tweeted by thousands of educators around the country. This afternoon, two administrators from other states sent pleas to my twitter account, asking for help with specific exemplars for upcoming literacy PD. I was able to share pins with them from my Common Core board on Pinterest immediately, even though we won’t be able to chat about the PD for hours.


    I have always been an educator who consumes literature about learning and teaching. In the past, I may have used different tools to satisfy my passion: books, journals, highlighters and 3 ring binders. The benefit, for my school community, in having a principal who is becoming more and more connected each day is that I have a whole world of resources, experiences, and information at my fingertips. If we encounter an opportunity that we weren’t previously prepared for, we now have a network of experiences and support available to us. Each week,

    Wikipedia defines instructional leadership as “the process of enlisting and guiding the talents and energies of teachers, pupils, and parents toward achieving common educational aims.” Being a connected educator helps me to better support the entire school community as we strive to achieve our common educational aims and to thrive in our teaching and learning.

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