The Organized Learner - Special #ISTE17 Edition


Full disclosure, I've never been to ISTE, but I've been reading some great tips and tricks from some incredible educators to help me prepare for the conference. The purpose of this post is to share a few general tips to better organize your digital life at ISTE this year. 
(I will include links to some great tips and tricks from my PLN at the end of this post.)

While I can't rely on my past ISTE experiences, I have attended a few conferences and I've learned that being organized can make or break your conference experience. There are many great digital resources that support organization and these tips include some of my favorites. I hope you can make the most of your experience before, during, and after the conference with these quick tips.

Tip 1 - Stay Organized with Google Keep
Google Keep is a great resource to create reminders, notes, and checklists. If you use the extension you can save links to resources. The Keep Notepad in Google Docs is a bonus!

Learn More
Google Essentials - Google Keep

Tip 2 - Organize Your Notes & Shared Session Resources in Google Drive
Google Drive is a great collaborative resource, but it can quickly become a cluttered mess if not organized. Check out the posts below to learn more about staying organized with Drive.

Learn More
Organizing Files and Folders in Drive
Creative Organization of Google Drive with Google Keep
Organizing Files and Folders in Google Drive - Move vs. Add


Tip 3 - Team Folders in Google Drive
I've only recently begun to explore Team Folders on Google Drive. Google Drive is a great place to share resources when attending a conference. 
"Google Team Drives are shared spaces where teams can easily store, search, and access their files anywhere, from any device.
Unlike files in My Drive, files in Team Drive belong to the team instead of an individual. Even if members leave, the files stay exactly where they are so your team can continue to share information and get work done."
I've organized a Google Team Drive for anyone interested in exploring this resource for collaboration. If you are interested, please share your G Suite email in the comments below. 

Tip 4 - Organize Your Social Feed

  • The hashtag this year is #ISTE17 and it will be going fast. Hootsuite and Tweetdeck are great resources, but I also recommend some of the built-in Twitter features.
  • Create a Twitter list of anyone who catches your interest. Great way to narrow down some of the clutter that a busy conference hashtag will generate.
  • Have a heart and like tweets to save them for future reference.
  • If This Then That (IFTTT) has some great Twitter Recipes to help you save and organize tweets.
  • Particpate is a great place to keep up with your Twitter Chats and Hashtags. They will be a great ally for anyone at ISTE17
  • Another great place to share is the ISTE Google + Community

Tip 5 - ISTE App and Agenda
The ISTE Website has some great resources for attendees and I recently discovered the mobile app. I've only scratched the surface of the app, but I already love the Agenda (mobile calendar) that is personalized for me. 

Additional Tips From Some ISTE Veterans

Questions That Can't Be Answered by Google


I would say that I am 75% yes and 25% no on this recent Twitter post. (Those percentages are completely made up, I really do not know how I would quantify this idea.) I do not believe that we should be creating assessments and activities where every answer can be memorized, but I do believe that that searching for some answers that could have been memorized from a lecture or found in a textbook has value. 
In this new narrative, learning ceases to focus on consuming information or knowledge that’s no longer scarce. Instead, it’s about asking questions, working with others to find the answers, doing real work for real audiences, and adding to, not simply taking from, the storehouse of knowledge that the Web is becoming. It’s about developing the kinds of habits and dispositions that deep, lifelong learners need to succeed in a world rife with information and connections.”  Will RichardsonWhy School?: How Education Must Change When Learning and Information Are Everywhere
The idea that educators should focus more on skills and less on content has been around for a few years now. The growth of BYOD and 1 to 1 initiatives have shifted where we all learn. Teaching has become more challenging because educators are no longer the only best source of knowledge. We need to learn to be both teachers and facilitators. 

Where do you go when you have a question or want to learn how to do something? Shouldn't we make sure our students are learning how to effectively find an answer when an "expert" is not in the room? 

  • Siri . . . ?
  • Alexa . . . ?
  • OK Google . . . ?
  • Google?
  • Yahoo?
  • Bing?
  • YouTube?
  • Something else?
How does a teacher avoid questions that have answers that are a simple Google search away? Have you ever taken a look at one of your activities from a textbook and searched some of the questions in quotes? You might find the activity with the answers available for anyone. 

I teach AP Environmental Science so I will admit that it is often pretty easy for me to create some questions that can't be Googled. The world of Environmental Science often does not have questions with established answers. We also have a great deal of content that the students must know, so the quest for knowledge never ends. 

I am still learning how to best incorporate digital resources, but here are a few things that I do to help my students use the web and search as a learning resource.

1. All of our quizzes are open internet. While I occasionally have partner quizzes, the only resource I tell them they cannot use is other students in the class. I work very hard to emphasize that just getting the answer from another student does not help them or me understand what they know or still need to learn.
Here are some tips for creating an assessment or creating an activity that is open internet.

  • It is ok to have some questions that students can find the answer using a Google search. The students appreciated this and I think it helps them learn to use search effectively. I like to believe that they are gaining some additional as they look for the answer. 
  • Set a time limit for the assessment. I don't want my students to Google every question, so I let them know that they should expect to run out of time if they are trying to Google everything.
  • Most of our multiple choice questions have 5 choices. I try really hard to have no throwaway answers. I am often looking for the best answer, so Googling any question may not always lead them to the best answer. I think 3 or 4 options makes it too easy for them to narrow down the search. I do occassionaly like to use a creative true / false question that gets them thinking. 
  • I sometimes throw in some "Mark all that apply" questions. Often there is more than one correct answer for these questions and sometimes there is not. These questions drive my students crazy because they really need to look at the question and the answers carefully. 
  • Look at the data, if a question has 100 percent of the students getting it right then you might want to do a Google search yourself to see how the students are "finding" this answer. 
  • Some open-ended or free-response questions are necessary. One of my favorites is, "What is something you know about this unit that was not on the quiz?"
  • Follow up with some assessments that do not allow them to use any additional resources. I love to compare the results with my students. "Why did you get it right here, but not there?" is a favorite discussion question.
When creating a digital activity I try to build in a mix of different web resources. I don't want to always just focus on text, videos, images, or interactives. 
Here are a few tips for tips for creating an activity that is open internet.
  • I try to find resources that allow me to blend different media. My best activities include text of all sorts, images, audio, and video. 
  • Student choice is important. Don't just provide them a single resource for the concept they are exploring. I love them to compare and contrast what they learn from different sources connected to the same content. 
  • When I create a web-based activity I try not to ask too many specific questions where they can ignore any content not connected to the question. Most of my questions are opened ended on activities. For example, "What are 5 new things you learned from the resource?" or "What takeaways would you share with someone who did not see this resource? Get the students talking to each other during the activity. 
  • HyperDocs are a great framework for creating digital activities. I try to build digital activities that are more than a worksheet of questions. I want students to collaborate, create, think critically, and communicate effectively. 
What tips do you have to help teachers shift away from questions that can be answered with a Google search? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Extend your learning with this connected Mindshift Post.
How Has Google Affected The Way Students Learn?


Innovative Educational Organizations to Follow on Twitter

It's essential to keep moving, learning and evolving for as long as you're here and this world keeps spinning” ― Rasheed Ogunlaru

In 2012 I read an Atlantic Article titled "Alone in the Classroom: Why Teachers Are Too Isolated?" I rediscovered this article a few weeks ago as I began to explore creating a list of Innovative Educators on Twitter and I believe it serves as a great reminder why we cannot stand alone in our classrooms.

I was just beginning to develop a PLN in 2012 and I started by following a variety of educators and educational organizations. My PLN has grown over the years and educational organizations remain a big part of my learning and sharing.

I purposefully left educational organizations of my first list with the thought that I would create a separate post. This post will be dedicated to some of my favorite educational organizations. I know it is not a complete list, so please consider this a starting point. 

My goal for this organization list was to provide some diversity by choosing organizations that cover a wide range of educational philosophies. This is not meant to be a "Top 10" list, but instead, an opportunity for me to share some of the educational organizations that have influenced me in the past and continue to influence me as an educator today.

Here are some of my favorite education organizations. The best way to experience each organization is to explore their Twitter posts. Please feel free to suggest additional organizations in the comments below.


Edutopia @edutopia

"A comprehensive website and online community that increases knowledge, sharing, and adoption of what works in K-12 education. We emphasize core strategies: project-based learning, comprehensive assessment, integrated studies, social and emotional learning, educational leadership and teacher development, and technology integration."

Mindshift @MindShiftKQED

"MindShift explores the future of learning in all its dimensions. We examine how learning is being impacted by technology, discoveries about how the brain works, poverty and inequities, social and emotional practices, assessments, digital games, design thinking and music, among many other topics. We look at how learning is evolving in the classroom and beyond."

EdTechTeam @EdTechTeam
"EdTechTeam, a California Benefit Corporation, is a global network of educational technologists dedicated to inspiring and empowering other educators. The team is best known for a world-wide series of Summits featuring Google for Education, EdTechTeam Online was launched in early 2016 to provide an online professional development experience on par with the face-to-face experiences EdTechTeam has offered for years. EdTechTeam Press was also launched in 2016, with a goal of capturing the stories of  EdTechTeam’s most inspiring speakers – and sharing their expertise with more educators around the world."

Future Ready Schools @FutureReady

"Future Ready Schools® helps district leaders plan and implement personalized, research-based digital learning strategies so all students can achieve their full potential. We believe every student deserves a rigorous, personalized learning environment filled with caring adults and student agency. District leaders must recognize the potential of digital tools and align necessary technologies with instructional goals to support teaching and learning."

EdTechTeacher @EdTechTeacher21

"At EdTechTeacher, we understand teachers because all of us have been in the classroom. Given our backgrounds, we recognize the challenge of preparing students for an increasingly complex and cognitively demanding world, so we leverage our experiences to provide professional development to teachers who are dedicated to creating innovative learning opportunities for their students."

Google for Education @GoogleForEdu
"The mission of Google is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. Ensuring teachers and students everywhere have access to technology to learn and work together fits naturally with that mission."

Office of EdTech @OfficeofEdTech
"The U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology (OET) develops national educational technology policy and establishes the vision for how technology can be used to transform teaching and learning and how to make everywhere, all-the-time learning possible for early learners through K-12, higher education, and adult education."

WeAreTeachers @WeAreTeachers
"WeAreTeachers is an online community for educators committed to one of the toughest, most rewarding jobs out there. Our mission is to inspire teachers and help them succeed by sharing practical classroom ideas, the best freebies and giveaways, and teacher-to-teacher advice and humor."

Simple K12 @SimpleK12
"Our mission is to help educators inspire their students, engage their learners, perfect their craft, and share their experiences to help others do the same. Never stop growing. Never stop learning. Never stop sharing. Online professional development. Anytime. Anywhere… even at home in your pajamas!"

Ed Tech K12 Magazine @EdTech_K12
"EdTech: Focus on K-12 explores technology and education issues that IT leaders and educators face when they’re evaluating and implementing a solution. EdTech: Focus on K-12 is published by CDW which is headquartered in Vernon Hills, Ill."

ISTE @isteconnects
"Because, ultimately, it's not about the technology at all. It's about changing the way learning and teaching takes place to make it more meaningful and impactful for educators and learners around the globe. It's about working together to turn what-ifs into what is."

Edudemic @Edudemic
"Our mission is to prepare educators for the classroom with innovative, informed, and engaging tech resources. Our vision is to provide a place for readers to discover and engage with information about the newest technology, data trends, and digital tools available to them in order to meet the needs of all students in the communities they serve."

TeachThought @TeachThought
"We are dedicated to supporting educators in innovation in teaching and learning for a 21st century audience. This starts with ideas and resources for K-20 teachers through our site, and extends to our design of school models, learning models, curriculum, technology, apps, and other learning tools through collaborations with other organizations."

eSchool News @eschoolnews
"eSchool News covers education technology in all its aspects–from legislation and litigation, to case studies, to purchasing practices and new products. First published in March of 1998, eSchool News is a monthly print and digital newspaper providing the news and information necessary to help K-20 decision-makers successfully use technology and the internet to transform North America’s schools and colleges and achieve their educational goals."

Tech & Learning @techlearning
"For over three decades, Tech & Learning has remained the premier publication and leading resource for education technology professionals responsible for implementing and purchasing technology products in K-12 districts and schools. Our team of award-winning editors and an advisory board of top industry experts provide an inside look at issues, trends, products, and strategies pertinent to the role of all educators –including state-level education decision makers, superintendents, principals, technology coordinators, and lead teachers."

Illinois Computer Educators @ice_il
"ICE's Mission - The mission of Illinois Computing Educators is to lead the educational community in enhancing learning through technology.
ICE's Vision - Illinois Computing Educators is the leader in supporting and promoting innovative education for all."

ASCD @ASCD
"Founded in 1943, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) is the global leader in developing and delivering innovative programs, products, and services that empower educators to support the success of each learner. The association provides expert and innovative solutions in professional development, capacity building, and educational leadership essential to the way educators learn, teach, and lead."

CUE @cueinc
"CUE inspires innovative learners by fostering community, personalizing learning, infusing technology, developing leadership, and advocating educational opportunities for all."

What am I missing? What are your favorite educational organizations?



25 Innovative Educators to Follow on Twitter

If you've ever visited my Twitter stream you will know that I follow quite a bit more than my share of educators. I pretty much follow anyone I think I can learn from. My stream goes fast and sometimes I miss something, but that is why I love lists, retweets, hashtags and likes. If I missed it today, I am sure I will find it tomorrow. 

Over the years I've seen many lists of teachers who are great follows on Twitter. Each of these lists connects to some incredible educators and I thought it was about time that I shared my favorite follows. Narrowing down my PLN favorites to just 25 educators was not easy. I know I am leaving out many great educators, but I needed to start and end somewhere. We all know that there are way more than 25 educators sharing great resources and ideas on Twitter.


This list is not a "Top 25 List". There are many incredible educators sharing wonderful and innovative ideas that I know I've missed. Please feel free to share any of your favorite Twitter peeps in the comments below. 


What are the qualifications to be on my list?

1. The educators on this list are active collaborators on Twitter. They do more than just tweet quotes, images, and links. They share, connect, and engage with their PLNs.
2. These educators share practical ideas and resources that every teacher can explore and bring back to their classrooms.
3. Everyone on this list shares some incredible tools and resources, but they also share ideas to help teachers teach and students learn and innovate. They are not just aboutsharing the tools.
4. Everyone on this list is an innovator who is willing to try something new even at the risk of failing. They are original risk takers who learn by doing. 
5. The educators on this list model life long learning. They are passionately curious.
Who are the people in your PLN?

Here is the list of some of my favorite Twitter educators. Great follows for new and experienced educational explorers. 
  • George Couros @gcouros 
    “If students leave school less curious than when they started, we have failed them.”
  • Matt Miller @jmattmiller 
    “Don’t just teach a lesson, create an experience.”
  • Kasey Bell @ShakeUpLearning 
    "Cultivating a culture of communication in the classroom creates a foundation for building the other, ‘C’s:’ collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking."
  • Alice Keeler @alicekeeler 
    "The only difference between 'I'm techie' and 'I'm not techie' is the willingness to click on stuff and see what happens."
  • Tom Murray @thomascmurray 
    "Simply digitizing past practice serves little instructional purpose and ultimately leads to low levels of learning."
  • Joy Kirr @JoyKirr 
    "Coloring hair is NOT crazy. It will grow out in no time. Trying new things in the classroom that might benefit our students is NOT crazy. Some people even use the word 'innovative.'"
  • Aaron Hogan @aaron_hogan 
    "Because so much is changing so often, educators have a choice to make: change or be changed. I, for one, prefer to take an active role (as much as is possible) in that process."
  • Richard Byrne @rmbyrne 
    "With a few keystrokes and a click, students can discover new information and challenge more old information."
  • Andy Fekete @FeketeEDU 
    "We have found great value in student perspective on redesign."
  • Dave Burgess @burgessdave 
    “It’s not supposed to be easy—it’s supposed to be worth it.”
  • Josh Harris @EdTechSpec 
    "In education, no one’s crater is deeper than the classroom teacher’s crater. Their impact is profound and personal."
  • Katie Siemer @Katie_M_Ritter 
    "As tech coaches and integration specialists, it is our responsibility to act as change agents in schools and to bring teachers along on that journey with us."
  • Carrie Baughcum @HeckAwesome 
    "Your skills and your style are your skills and your style, own them. Be proud of them."
  • Dr Justin Tarte @justintarte 
    "When the student becomes the teacher, there are no limits to what s(he) can learn ..."
  • Coach Ben @cogswell_ben 
    "
    Curiosity is a great driver. I try to build some up providing interesting content with guiding questions."
  • Jen Giffen @VirtualGiff 
    "The passion for learning fades because we choose the curriculum content over passion."
  • Adam Welcome @awelcome 
    "Talk and talk and talk and talk - and build the relationships, there is no other way!"
  • Will Richardson @willrich45 
    “Teaching is learning, and learning is the teaching.”
  • Tom Whitby @tomwhitby 
    "Teaching kids HOW to learn becomes more important than teaching them WHAT to learn when the goal is life long learning."
  • Eric Curts @ericcurts 
    "
    During any professional development training it is important to break things up, add some variety, and most importantly have some fun and laugh."
  • Eric Sheninger @E_Sheninger 
    “I don't find the time to learn and get better. I make the time to learn and get better.”
  • Joe Sanfelippo @Joesanfelippofc 
    "Bad professional development initiatives are tied to a leader. When they leave, so does the momentum. Good professional development is participant driven and owned."
  • Trevor MacKenzie @trev_mackenzie 
    "Content isn't the starting point of inquiry, the question is."
  • Jaime Casap @jcasap 
    “Don't ask kids what they want to be when they grow up but what problems do they want to solve. This changes the conversation from who do I want to work for, to what do I need to learn to be able to do that.”
  • Jeffrey Bradbury @TeacherCast 
    "I don’t believe in children.  I also don’t believe in adults.  What I do believe is that we are all amazing human beings and have the power of doing great things."
Here are a few more lists, if my 25 were not enough. 


Who am I missing from your PLN?

Next week I will share some of my favorite Educational Organizations on Twitter.









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