An Early Gathering of Giants #ntcamp (July 24, 2010)

It is amazing to me how far we have come as educators on Twitter.  Connecting online and in person has changed the educational environment in many good ways.  I have learned so much from the 13 edcamps and TeachMeets I have attended.

ntcampjab On the heels of the first edcamp in Philadelphia Andy Marcinek @andycinek on an #ntchat I participated in four years ago at this time proposed the idea for a New Teacher Camp.  Most of the organization and planning was done by Andy with the able assistance of @geraldaungst.  I had the honor of giving the opening speech. 

I will attempt to remember many of those in attendance (please let me know if I left anyone out), who came from near and far, as it was a real Who’s Who of Twitter Educational celebrities:

@web20classroom (NC) @tomwhitby (NY) @kylepace (MO) @pammoran & @paulawhite (VA) @shannonmmiller (IA) @NMHS_Principal (NJ)

Many of the organizers and participants in the inaugural edcampPhilly were in attendance including: @dancallahan @mbteach @kristenswanson @aleaness @hadleyjf @butwait @rkiker  @jasontbedell 

I remember distinctly @meenoorami asking me if she should start a chat for English teachers. I said I would help her and #engchat was born. 

How can I forget my fun talk with @smallbutfeisty and @DaretoChem

In four years there has been an explosion of the edcamp movement.  I was upset I missed the inaugural #edampPhilly but thankful I participated in the second such event #ntcamp in Philadelphia.  Many thanks to the organizers of the edcamp movement as it has helped bring teachers together to connect learn and share from one another.  Please find or organize an edcamp in your area.

The EdCamp Wiki lists all the edcamps

My EdCamp/TeachMeet page:


I am inspired and you can be too!

The motto for this year’s #tcea14 Convention & Exposition was “Get “Inspired.”  There are so many ways that you can get inspired.

During the past few weeks I attended some outstanding events that not only engaged me but re-energized me.  I met so many of my PLN that it would be impossible to list all of them.  I love you all and appreciate you.  #youmatter a lot to me.

#FETC14  – Florida

I only had the opportunity to spend one day at #FETC14 but it sure was jam packed with great experiences:

I took part in a fun app session delivered by @adambellow @kathyshrock @lesliefisher and @HallDavidson. Attend stimulating sessions at conferences or go to an edcamp where you can share what works with your students or learn from others.

I was fortunate to join @tomwhitby and @adambellow for a luncheon conversation.  Then we bumped into @rushtonh and I was able to have an enjoyable talk with him. Spend time with your PLN.  It is incredible the sharing and learning that takes place in these informal get togethers.


I really enjoyed hanging out with my fellow #edchat moderators: @blairteach @kylepace @tomwhitby and archivist @jswiatek. Educational chats on Twitter are great opportunities for professional learning.  Take advantage of the incredible chats available.

The extremely well attended TweetUp gave me a chance to meet so many of my PLN.  It was nice to renew acquaintances and make new ones with great educators like @s_bearden @kristenswanson and @thomascmurray.

#TCEA14 – Texas

@tomwhitby and I had a fantastic time during #tcea14 and it was really special when we tweeted side by side while moderating Tuesday evening’s #edchat on: What would be the effect of building collaboration and reflection time into your work schedule?

Take part in chats and build your PLN.  Share your thoughts and learn how others feel.

@kenroyal  I definitely got the royal treatment from Ken who introduced me to so many of his friends in education.   It was so much fun hanging out with him.  It is amazing the connections that you make as you build a Twitter or Social Media Family.

@myclassflow Learned about this interactive lesson planning method that will engage students. Attending sessions gives you to opportunity to see first-hand technology that can help deliver your lessons.

I had a fantastic barbecue dinner with @PaulRWood, @shannonmiller, @TomWhitby, @woscholar et al. was nourishing for body and mind.  It is amazing when educators get together and then discuss intellectual topics that stretch the mind.

EdTech Karoke was a wonderful opportunity to let your hair down and enjoy yourself.  Always enjoy talking with my buddy @kevinhoneycutt. Once again I came across @stevedembo and we both stated that some day we would have to just sit down and talk.  Having fun and learning is great for us and our students.


I was honored to address the LIB-SIG group thank you @_MichelleCooper. The message to all educators should be to continue to do what you are doing but embrace technology and listen to #stuvoice.

Conferences and edcamps are invaluable as you get a chance to meet members of your PLN (Personal Learning Network) like @mattBgomez  @djakes @duncanbilingual @ipadSammy @RafranzDavis @TechNinjaTodd to discuss educational topics in person, groups or during sessions.  It is now wonderful that you can go to meetings and actually know people as a result of your being a connected educator.

Tuskegee Airmen at Fantasy of Flight – Florida

Thanks to @DennisDill and @MLMRobertson  I was able to accompany their students to a special presentation by three Tuskegee Airmen at the Fantasy of Flight.  These gentlemen gave an outstanding session explaining the struggles they faced and how they triumphed.  It was wonderful that they encouraged the students attending to get a good education and work hard.  My tweets caught the attention of @DianaLRendina who was attending the same presentation with her class.  It is always nice to meet members of my PLN.  Great also to connect with @KKStephens82 the Operations Manager of @fantasyofflight Take advantage of such learning opportunity field trips in person or virtually.

Take part in activities that will inspire you don’t wait for them to come to you.



This past week’s #edchat topic on reflection got me really thinking.

We need to stop periodically and really analyze what we are doing especially in the way we are educating our students.  At the same time we should also get feedback from our students, colleagues, or staff members as well as parents on what needs to be improved.  Then, we have to come up with a plan to get accomplished what we have discussed.  I like the use of the word “we” because it should be a joint operation. 

At this time I should reflect back on all the wonderful opportunities I had this past week or so getting to know members of my PLN at #FETC14, #TCEA14 and at a special Tuskegee Airmen event.   I am so fortunate to have such a wonderful group of educators, parents and students in my network.  It is I who should thank all of you for keeping me young and energized.  There is a lot of work that needs to be done to improve our educational system and world.  It is not an easy task.  We need to stop, reflect and come up with ways each of us can improve education.  It is important that we listen to all parties.  Let’s all Be the Change that is needed. 

In 2014 I plan to…

Periodically reflect on what I am doing in all phases of my life and attempt to make adjustments.  I feel this is also a good practice for our students to do as well.

From My Resolutions and Reflections  page

Each year I had my students write their learning goals or resolutions for the year on the first day of school. I had them review and update them periodically throughout the school year. (Thanksgiving, 100th Day, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day…) I kept their resolutions (on paper & online) and returned them at the end of the school year.

Share helpful things with my PLN.  One of my followers criticized my sharing of my pages. I have asked numerous members of my PLN about this and they said continue all your sharing.  I plan to keep sharing my pages. I never state “the best sites” but I try to provide many and let you choose the best ones for your use. 

Continue to be a constant and connected learner.  As far as technology is concerned I am mostly self taught.  I taught myself how to make databases and spreadsheets ( those were the days you had to write the formulas). I also learned basic html to make my original website. I enjoy trying out new things.  I sincerely appreciate my PLN (Personal Learning Network) who help me learn so many new things.

A connected educator is a constant learner not afraid to try need things and one who is able to reach out to
learn, share and collaborate with a global network consisting
of students, teachers, administrators, parents and community members interested in education.

Plan to eat better.  I was not happy with the cholesterol results from a physical exam I took. I have started trying to eat either an apple or pear every day and less meat and more vegetables.  I am cutting down eating junk foods and unhealthy snacks.  Luckily I have excellent self control. One year I decided to give up eating chocolate which I love.  of course, that was the year our family went to Hershey, Pa.  Yes, I gave up the free bar of chocolate I got from the Hershey Chocolate Factory.

My Nutrition page

Try to get fitter.  I do have lapses in this area but compared to most of my peers I am doing quite well.  I work out regularly in my community gym.  I have also tried to walk more.  I always walk at a fast clip and plan my walks around errands.  I average a 12 minute mile.  It is hard to keep up this pace.  I gave up running to avoid wear and tear.  Years ago I did the marathon distance but preferred doing 13.1. I do wonder about the comments of many who say that it is easy for me to maintain my weight.  They have no idea how hard I work at exercising and trying to eat well.

My Exercise page

    Train — like an athlete.    Eat — like a
    nutritionist.    Sleep — like a baby.    WIN —
    like a champion.

Hope you have a very Happy and Healthy 2014

Thank you Georgia Educational Technology Conference #gaetc13

It was a great honor for me to be asked to be a featured presenter at this year’s Georgia Eucational Technology Conference #gaetc13.  I always enjoy connecting, learning and sharing with passionate educators.  Everyone at #gaetc13 was wonderful.  They were so gracious, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind….



I tried to give sessions where not only did I share information but I was able to learn new things from my audience.   I  feel that some of the best interchanges are those given by participants.  I enjoy when they share what works or does not work with their students.  We all gain valuable information from these conversations.  I have to give a special shout out to @brholland (pictured) who shared some amazing things at several of my sessions.  Thank you Beth.


I am a champion of the classroom teacher and I salute them for all that they have to face.  I am also a huge fan of students.  I totally enjoyed interacting with all of the student presenters.  The Student Showcase was outstanding.  It included everything from STEAM, gardening, Legos, digital storytelling, to tech prodigies.  It was great to connect with my good Twitter friend @staffdevjnkie and her students.  Glad I was able to get Sue and one of her students to learn from the amazing @ShellTerrell at her Digital Storytelling session. 


Conferences to me are so much more meaningful because you get a chance to meet (and hug) your followers many of whom you never actually met in person before.  It is also a chance to connect with your “old” Twitter friends. I was thrilled to be able to spend so much time with my great friend @ShellTerrell and reacquaint with @NikkiDRobertson (pictured) @amandacdykes and @Fernandezc4. A very  special moment for me was getting a chance to hug my good friend @blairteach who stopped by #gaetc13



I love the EduVue team and getting a chance to see them in person was so nice. @GaTechTeach @CatFlippen @JaimeVanderG (pictured)  #EduVue


Could not believe in one session I gave I had a slide of @aschmuhl and he was actually in the room. Great to meet the #gaed moderating team of @aschmuhl and the very dynamic @blantonbrian.


It was wonderful hanging out with educational leaders who I admire so much:@tonyvincent @shellterrell (pictured) @crafty184 @lesliefisher  @dlaufenberg and @Njistem.


Thanks to everyone who stopped and talked to me.  You mean a lot and I always love talking to my PLN. I am sorry I did not scan and keep everyone’s names to thank them all like @debbiechildress @cereseg @ktheodocion @AnissaLAndrews @mrnidey @BrandiKotsalis1 @PMontarella @mcrogers27 @MmeBurgess  @cmslibrarylady @vlaguaite @barber_meg @britt1119 @ldenson8 @lewisgrade5.  Special thanks for all the kind words @hoke (Hoke Wilcox)

Big thank you to the Georgia Educational Technology Consortium Board of Directors, GaETC Sub-Committee, committee members, sponsors and all the wonderful volunteers who made this an outstanding conference.




Connect daily in person or online!


I feel we should be concentrating on ways that educators, students and anyone interested in education can connect every day. October is #CE13 Connected Educator Month but we should be connecting every day in many different ways.

Connect with your students

Make sure you show them you care about them. Greet them each day by name. Keep up with their interests.  My #YouMatter page  Give them time to explore their passions
My Makerspaces page:  My Genius Hour page.

Connect your students to other classes around the world and with experts

Start connecting via Skype or Google Hangout with other classes.  Then take the initial meeting a step further by starting collaborating with them. My Mystery Location page.  Connect your students with experts outside the classroom to answer their questions. Adam Taylor @2ftgiraffe started #Scistuchat a monthly discussion that connects high school students and scientists.

Connect with your colleagues.

Share what you are doing and what you are learning as a result of your connecting online and offline.  Observe what they are doing with their students. 

Connect with other levels of education.

When my daughter was in sixth grade she and classmates connected with first grade students.  We need to connect elementary school students with middle & high school students and middle and high school students with higher education.  We can all learn from each other.

Connect with the parents/guardians of your students.

Find the best ways each parent wants to be communicated with.  Be transparent with them on what you are doing with their children.  Invite them in to the class to share their expertise.  Show them ways they can help you as a team improve the learning of their children.  Have hands-on workshops on how you are using technology for education.  Use such web tools as Remind101

Connect with the community.

Take the learning out into the area where you teach. Plan performances, art shows, science fairs in your public libraries, civic centers…  Connect with the members of your school community through the Chamber of Commerce and local organizations. Build relationships with businesses and local organizations  My School-Business Partnership Page


Connect via Social Media

Build a great PLN to connect with by following the hashtags on Twitter that pertain to your subject or grade level. My Educational Hashtags page. Seven days a week there are a plethora of chats for most grade levels and subject areas.  Participants in these chats represent a global audience of educators, students, parents and people interested in education.  Weekly Twitter Chat Schedule Use different social media connections like Facebook and LinkedIn to connect. 

Connect with your family

Step away from your technology devices and have some quality family time.  If your family is spread out connect with them via Skype or Google Hangouts.



Why I am a champion for #geniushour #20Time #geniustime

#geniushour #20Time #geniustime

Throughout most of my educational journey my creativity was stifled.  I will never forget when I drew a picture on a homework paper to illustrate an answer and was reprimanded for that. 

When I first starting teaching my administrator forced me to use a textbook that my students could not comprehend.  He got upset when I had my class write their own book with illustrations.  Luckily the principal thought that was a great idea.  When I realized my students did not know anything about the world I wrote a complete socio-economic-historical curriculum of the neighborhood where I taught.  It got nice feedback from my principal and the local politicians.  However, when I was transferred to another school (I was lowest in seniority in my subject area) the assistant principal said, We don’t do that in this school.  Years later the entire school district used my community curriculum. 

Very early in my teaching career I realized it would be a wise idea to put the curriculum to music.  My students knew all the song lyrics to their favorite songs.  Unfortunately I did not have any musical talent.  I really blew it by not having some of my students (The Fat Boys) put the curriculum to rap songs. 

When Billy Joel’s song, “We Didn’t Start the Fire” first was released my students and I came up with a fantastic lesson to go along with it.  NBC News got wind of it and wanted to come into my school to film me do the lesson with my students.  My principal refused to let them come.  Maybe it was because our school led the city in assaults on teachers.

I did have one superintendent for a short while who encouraged my creativity.  He let a couple of us write complete curriculums, with lesson plans and student workbooks for the 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th grades.  When the next superintendent came in he refused to let us finish the 6th grade curriculum. 

As a result of my experiences I was determined to make sure I did not stifle my students’ creativity abilities.  During the first week of school I had my students fill out a survey of their interests and abilities.  Throughout the school year I referred to this when we did our work.  If a student liked to draw, write poetry, or was musically talented they could put that to use in their assignments.  I wish I taught now with all the wonderful tech tools there are .

Please give your students some time to pursue their passions  #GeniusHour #20Time #geniustime as it should be incorporated into your busy schedule. 

ISTE is a Family Reunion

Copy (2) of edchat
We are family!
I feel the best part of attending ISTE is getting the chance to meet face to face with members of my PLN.  Twitter enables us to initially meet online.  By tweeting we get a chance to share our joys and sorrows with one another. Having the opportunity to actually see who I have been communicating with online makes ISTE priceless.  I value each and every member of my Twitter family.
One of the major problems of having so many followers is that I may not know exactly who you are. Please do not be afraid to introduce yourself to me.  I really enjoy meeting my PLN.  I will never forget at an edcamp when one of my followers seeing me asked if I gave hugs.  I also get “you are not as tall as I expected!”  Okay I never hit six feet.  In fact at one point I was 5’ 9” but age, children, grandchildren has shrunk me a little.
I want to thank each and everyone of my PLN.  #YouMatter to me.
I would also love the opportunity to personally thank one of my PLN members who has made it possible for me to attend ISTE.  I am so grateful for your generosity. 
 vicki angela debm  Engaging  nick shannon 
 And yes, I do greatgroupgive hugs. 

My brass school doorknob

On my desk I keep a brass doorknob and a block of wood from my first school.  It reminds me of my start as a teacher and the struggles I faced.

I found that doorknob on the floor in front of a classroom door whose window had been smashed by it.  The custodial staff could not keep up with all the broken windows which mostly where broken from the inside. Looking at the school from the outside you saw a lot of boards in place of window panes. 

We must all be aware of the struggles classroom teachers face. They need our support, advice and all the help we can give them.  They may not get what they really need in their school but thanks to social media they can get it online.  Consider yourself very fortunate if you work in a good school environment. But remember not everyone is that lucky. Reach out and support our struggling colleagues.

Looking at that doorknob I will never forget my days as a classroom teacher:
lack of supplies, little support, poor working conditions, revolving door teacher staff, ineffective administrators, little if any parental involvement, violence….


Read Across America – Read Across States

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” 

I truly enjoyed reading The Cat in the Hat Comes Back by Dr. Seuss to five classes of students in a Google Hangout whose wonderful teachers are:

Amy Pratt @apratt5 – Texas

Paula Naugle @plnaugle – Louisiana

Nancy Carroll @ncarroll24 – Massachusetts

Jennifer Regruth @JennRegruth – Indiana

William Krakower @wkrakower – New Jersey

We were also joined by Sandra Paul @spaul6414 Director of Technology.

Before the show began I had no trouble figuring out which class was from Indiana as one student had a Colt’s sweatshirt on and in another class a young man was wearing a Dallas Cowboy shirt so that must have been the Texas class!  The real surprise were the students in Paula Naugle’s class all wearing paper hats just like the Cat in the Hat.

To begin I decided to give the students a little background.  Not only did Theodor Seuss Geisel who we know as Dr. Seuss was born (March 2, 1904) in the city of Springfield, Massachusetts so was my wonderful wife Gail.  As a child I had visited Springfield to visit my great uncle and cousins.  In fact, it was only a couple of blocks away from where Gail grew up.  Who would have known Springfield would play such a big role in my life? 

I told the students that Dr. Seuss grew up near one of the largest municipal parks in the United States.  Yes, Forest Park contains over 700 acres.  It now has baseball diamonds, an ice skating rink, one of the first public pools in the country, ponds, lawn bowling, bocci, a rose garden, dinosaur tracks and a zoo.  Dr. Seuss’s father was in charge of all of the parks in the city.  I am sure his son spent a lot of time at the zoo in the Forest Park.  Reading his books he did take a lot from his experiences growing up.  The animals at the zoo (elephants…), motorcycle (Indian motorcycles were built in Springfield and yes there is a Mulberry Street.

We used to spend our summers in Springfield at my father-in-law’s home right across the street from Forest Park.  Our children went to day camp in the Springfield area.  I can remember several years where I can to commute from my summer job in New York to Springfield on weekends.  One summer I even got a job at the local college teaching computers in a summer program that my daughter attended.

Since The Cat in the Hat Comes Back was written in 1958 I had to explain that the $10.00 shoes were expensive then.  An average price of shoes nowadays would be at least $60.00.

I also told the children about my mischievous grandcat.  He is far different from the mild mannered cats that my children grew up with.  Yes, during the story The Cat in the Hat sure caused a lot of trouble but lucky he had his little cat friends to restore everything to normal.

I want to compliment all the children and their teachers as my audience was excellent.  If you haven’t tried a Google Hangout  (My Google Hangout page: I highly recommend them.  You can get 10 people or classes at one time. 

My Dr. Seuss page contains the YouTube of my reading as well as lot of great activities and lessons.

“Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.”