You Matter is so important

When I first started teaching one day I realized that I was spending most of my time with students who were not doing their work or acting up.  I would first try a one-on-one approach to deal with them.  I would then try to contact a parent either by writing letters or calling.  Then, I stopped and thought that I was not doing anything about the students who did their work, behaved well and tried their best.  I decided to write letters home to those students’ parents.

The first time I did this I handed the letters to the students to give to their parents.  One student came back to school the next day and said, “Mr. Blumengarten, when I told my mother I got a letter from my teacher, she slapped me.”

I was upset by this so I made sure to tell the students to tell their parent that it was “a good letter from my teacher”.  Many parents had never received a good letter from their child’s teacher.

Please take the time to let students know that you appreciate their efforts and good behavior and the fact that they are trying their best.  Let their parents know that their children are cooperating.  Work with the parents and give them ways to help their children succeed better.  Many parents want to help but do not know what they can do.

Administrators should use a similar approach for their staff members.  Make sure that you appreciate the hard work and dedication of your staff members.  They are sure to appreciate being acknowledged in person or by a note for their efforts.

I must sincerely thank Angela Maiers for championing “YouMatter.”  This to me is one of the most important things we can do with our students and staff members.  Show that you really care about them and their efforts.

Our #YouMatter page


I will now tweet “Our Page” instead of “My Page”

In the 1990’s while a classroom teacher I started bookmarking good educational sites.  When I became the teacher-librarian in my school I started a website of links for all subject areas. I was still finding the sites myself but I then found Kathy Shrock who shared amazing information. Once I got on Twitter in 2009 I started building a great PLN.  My first follows were: @coolcatteacher @web20classroom @shellterrell and @tomwhitby.  I started getting great links from them and as time went by my Twitter followers kept providing great sites that they were using.

For years I have tweeted pages from my website and stated “My Page.”  I have now changed that to “Our Page” because without my wonderful PLN how would I ever find such great sites to add.  As a constant learner and a person who truly wants to help busy students, educators and parents I cannot keep up on everything without your help. 

My PLN means a lot to me #YouMatter.

Thanks to the following and all others who share so much:

@angelamaiers @mbteach @kyplepace @alicekeeler @pernilleripp @brholland @s_bearden @joycevalenza @KleinErin @mr_isaacs @gcouros @jmattmiller @justintarte @KerryHawk02 @sylviaduckworth @shannonmmiller @mssackstein @kevinhoneycutt @ClassTechTips @pammoran @SNewco @TonySinanis @wkrakower @scottrocco @TheBradCurrie @burgess_shelley @NikkiDRobertson @jeffherb @E_Sheninger @burgessdave @RossCoops31 @iTeachLipscomb @TeacherToolkit @gwynethjones @ICTEvangelist @ICTmagic @elissamalespina @ShiftParadigm @JoyKirr @librarian_tiff @TeacherCast @ozge @jenniferlagarde @JennRegruth @ncarroll24 @nathan_stevens @TechNinjaTodd @plnaugle @Lynch39083 @RACzyz @JenWilliamsEdu @ncarroll24  @PeterMDeWitt @LaVonnaRoth @timbuckteeth @russeltarr @elemenous @EdTechNerd @johnsonmaryj 

Control Alt Achieve @ericcurts

Education World @education_world

Emerging EdTech @EmergingEdTech

My Best of series | Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day… @Larryferlazzo

SurfNetKids @barbarafeldman

Talk Tech With Me @Katie_M_Ritter

Teachers Edition | U.S. Department of Education @usedgov

The Tech Edvocate @techedvocate@AdvocateforEd

#EduGoalsMOOC resources @SteveWheeler

Kathy Shrock’s Guide to Everything @kathyshrock

ASCD @ASCD Which for me as a member in the 1980’s was the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

Blogging About the Web 2.0 Connected Classroom by Steven Anderson @web20classroom

BrainPop @BrainPop

Common Sense Media @CommonSense

Cult of Pedagogy @cultofpedagogy

Daily Genius @DailyGenius

EdSurge @EdSurge

EdTechTeam @edtechteam

Education Week Teacher @educationweek

Edutopia (I have followed them since their start) @Edutopia

eSchoolNews @eschoolnews

Four O’Clock Faculty @4OClockFaculty

Free Technology for Teachers by Richard Byrne @rmbyne

Getting Smart @Getting_Smart

Learning in Hand @tonyvincent

Mind Shift @MindShiftKQED

Shake Up Learning Website and Blog @ShakeUpLearning

SimpleK12 @SimpleK12

TeachThought @TeachThought

Tech & Learning @techlearning

The Learning Networks @NYTimesLearning

You can find all these on Some Favorite Resources page

Why Can’t Teachers Get The Respect They Deserve?

When I wear my U.S. Army Veteran cap I get a lot of respect and thanks for my service. Some people then engage me in friendly conversation.

The times have definitely changed from the 1960’s during the Vietnam conflict when I was in uniform and I was subject to a lot of derogatory comments about my service.

When my brother returned home from two tours of duty in Vietnam (The second one to ensure someone else would not be sent there.) he was asked at a social affair how he avoided Vietnam. When he replied that he had served there the woman gave him a dirty looked and walked away.

At social functions when I was asked what I did as a career and I replied I taught people would turn and walk away. However, when I replied I was a writer they would automatically ask what I wrote (Aside from teaching I wrote educational materials for the utility industry for over 30 years, created curriculum for my school district, the New York City Board of Education now Department of Education and for Open Doors a school- business partnership).

I am very proud of my 20 years as a front line classroom teacher and then 12 years as a teacher-librarian in one of the toughest and most dangerous areas of New York City. My East New York – Brooklyn page.

Teachers should be given a lot of thanks and more appreciation for their service and dedication.

My Teacher Appreciation page

My #YouMatter page

I saw through GRIT that students could achieve.

Our inner city school was so dangerous a New York City police officer was stationed in the school every day.  He and I used to talk about our track experiences. When the gym teacher stated he wanted to start a track team we both told him we would help.  We did not have a school yard or an area outside where we could practice within a short distance from the school. So we started having the team run the halls and staircases.  We were a four story school built at the turn of the 20th Century.

When we finally got to the nearest track which was located behind another middle school over a mile away everyone wanted to race me.  There was no way I could beat them sprinting so I told them we would first have to warm up.  I neglected to tell them that I was a long distance runner who was brought up to kick in the end of every run.  They started to huff, puff and complain as I jogged the first quarter mile at a good pace.  Then I picked up the rate for the next quarter.  Many of them were dropping out but I kept going and increased the pace.  There I was on the third lap all by myself so I decided to sprint in the last lap.  They all cheered and told me how fast I was.  I had gained their confidence and they were challenged to try and beat me. 

We showed these young men (and later we involved girls) that through hard work they could achieve.  We set the standards high and with perseverance and determination they went on to win all of their dual meets and the Brooklyn Borough Championship.  To win the New York City Track Championship you had to beat the over 125 schools that qualified to run.  Yes, they went on to win the NYC Track Championship and during the summer some of the runners went on to win state and national titles. 

I am proud to say that some of these runners were able to get college track scholarships as a result of their hard work.  And the best thing I saw was that their classwork and conduct improved.  They saw that through hard work they could get to places they never felt they could before. 

Angela Duckworth’s GRIT: POWER of PASSION and PERSEVERANCE is a must read for all educators. 

My Track and Field page

My Grit page 

Back to Brooklyn, back to life and reality

The sudden and unexpected news of my only brother’s passing was quite a shock to me.  I had to get back to Brooklyn from Florida as soon as possible to make arrangements.

Traveling through the extremely bustling, noisy and crowded streets of Brooklyn on my way to the Medical Examiners office and then the funeral home took me on a nostalgic tour of my life and educational journey.

It was strange seeing three of the four schools where I taught. (The fourth school was torn down many years ago after they spent a half a million dollars fixing it up.)  It is hard to believe that I survived 32 years in such a crime filled neighborhood where I literally experienced just about everything you don’t want to live through.  I did smile when I saw the now fixed-up track where I trained two of my schools to city championships.

My East New York page

My heart goes out to all educators especially those who work in areas that are not safe and schools that are overcrowded, understaffed, lacking proper management and few supplies. I always envied schools that were safe, well run and teachers had all the supplies and support they needed to properly facilitate the learning of every child. I also do not miss trying to find a place to park my car especially dealing with alternate side of the street parking. I guess you have to be young and daring to teach where I did.

I cannot believe one of my colleagues (who was kind enough to put my wife and I up) is in his 47th year at the same school.  He kept telling me that it is even worse then when I was there. His wife who works on Long Island told me how difficult it is to teach even in a good area.   

Let’s take education back and make the necessary changes to ensure the successful learning of all children. I wish the public supported educators more.  I wish all parents would take more of an interest in their children’s learning and work closer with overburdened teachers.  We can make a difference!


I can, I shall – I did! #1000in2014

I just completed another 500 miles in 2014.  After doing my first 500 I decided to do it again.  I want to see you and your students also set goals but keep at them and reach what you have set out to accomplish.

Set goals, design mission and vision statements but focus on what you have done and reflect periodically making the necessary adjustments. This is a follow up to my previous blog post “Setting Goals and Reflection

There were days that I was at first not motivated to get outside and do my walk/jog/run morning activity but I persevered.  The following chats, etc. helped keep me going:

The Breakfast Chat #530   I look forward to this spark chat (5:30-5:45am EST – Mon-Fri.).  It gets my Twitter day started.  Luckily I don’t need or like coffee as I am wide away when I arise (yes, I do sleep a few hours).  After the chat I would hit the road.  It was dark before we set the clocks back.  I got to see students waiting for their school buses at 6:15am, horses grazing and then the beautiful sunrises. I try to make it home to prepare coffee for my wife when she gets up.


On Saturdays I try to get my usual minimum of 4 miles in before the very stimulating #satchat for educational leaders (7:30am EST/PST).


Sundays it is easier as #sunchat starts at 9:00am EST.

My Walk Tracker Pro app also was a great help to keep me motivated as it tracked my mileage and spurred me on to complete my miles in less than 13 minutes.


One of my heroes is @Principal_EL and it was a tweet by him in January that alerted me to the #500in2014.  He set out to accomplish this feat but got injured along the way. It definitely slowed him up but he did not give up and is back on track. Also have to give shoutouts to @Vroom6 who also came back from an injury.  And I could not leave out @WonderingWinter who had to put up with the climate of Vietnam to complete her #500in2014

Here is an update on the progress of the original 52 of the #500in2014

13 have completed 500 miles in 2014

4 have completed 1000 miles in 2014

I wonder if this is the same percentage of people who make New Year Resolutions and then keep them.

I am worried as we are not in shape physically, mentally or educationally.  It is easy to make resolutions, mission or vision statements but living up to them should be our goal.



Setting Goals and Reflection

Too many people make resolutions and set goals but do not follow through.  I set my educational goals each school year and also had my students make their own learning goals.  I kept copies of their goals (now it is easy to do this with all the devices we have available) but the key that helped keep them on track was to have them periodically review them.  I had my students reflect on their goals at least once a month.  I did this around the holidays (Halloween, Thanksgiving, December Holidays (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa..), New Year’s, Valentine’s Day…)  It takes persistence and diligence to achieve what you set out to do.

My Goals page

This past January in my Twitter feed I saw tweets about #500in2014. Investigating, I found out it was walking, jogging or running an accumulated distance of 500 miles in the calendar year. I have always set fitness goals so this was perfect for me. After this Medicare recipient reached the 500 mile plateau I set a new goal of 1000 miles.

Google doc for the #500in2014 challenge

I use an app on my iPhone called Walk Tracker Pro (Running, Cycling, Walking) as it periodically tells me the time of the workout, distance I have traveled, my pace and calories burned. My goal on most walks is to do a mile in 13 minutes or better. This every five minute notification keeps me on “track” and gives me the opportunity to speed up if necessary to reach my goal. During my walk/jogs I have plenty of time to reflect on a lot of things. Once again set a goal and review it!



I am disappointed that only 52 educators signed on for #500in2014 and only a small percentage of those will reach the goal of 500 miles in 2014. I am a strong advocate for educators to promote good health, proper nutrition and exercise. We need to lead by example and model for our students.  

9 have achieved the 500 miles  

1 is on the verge of accomplishing the goal  

6 have the potential to reach the goal  

So far 2 have surpassed 1,000 miles

2 have the potential to reach the goal 

My Health page
My Exercise page
My Nutrition page 
My Track page

Since I live in Florida, after spending most of my life in the Northeast, I have found the best time to work out is the early morning hours. The Breakfast Club chat #BFC530 (a fifteen minute spark chat 5:30-5:45amEST/MST Mon-Fri) gets me up early and moving so I can then catch some really nice sunrises ( I even saw a lunar eclipse). I used to be at school at 6 am (to do the early morning programing when teachers called in sick)  so getting up early is easy for me. I make it a point to say good morning and have an awesome day of learning to the students I see at 6:10 am waiting for their school bus.


On Saturdays I try to either get my workout in before or after #satchat (School Leaders chat 7:30-8:30 am EST/PST). I wish more of our administrators would set fitness, health & good nutrition goals and model the importance of exercise and good health. I feel health, wellness & eating properly are the most important subjects we need to stress with our youth and staffs. The 9am EST Sunday morning #sunchat is at a great time as I can do my usual hour workout & shower before this stimulating chat starts.

Hopefully you have set educational goals for yourself and have your students do their learning goals.   It is important that you periodically revisit the goals that you have set, reflect on them and make any changes. 

My Resolutions and Reflection page

Please don’t exclude anyone…

I was brought up to give of oneself and help others.  I am always willing to assist as can be evidenced by all the sites that I share.  I do this because I know as a former classroom teacher and later as a teacher librarian how hard it is to teach.  I have  been criticized by some for sharing such much but on the other hand so many people have thanked me.  I do not gain anything monetarily from my website.  In fact it costs me money to sustain it as well as he countless hours and years I have put into the site.  I just want to help in any way that I can. 

I was fortunate to have a very varied teaching experience and will always be thankful to my first PLN who helped me get started with my teaching career. 
When I was excessed because of seniority to a new school I will never forget coming in to the crowded teachers’ room and only finding a couch to sit on.  I was immediately informed that I could not sit there as it was reserved.  Some welcome!  I made sure to always welcome and help the new staff members.
I cannot tell you how many times when I approached my administrators with a new idea or technique they turned it down with the statement: “We don’t do that here!”  Be open to change and don’t exclude new approaches.
When I coached track I made sure in dual meets to include everyone who worked hard.  I was criticized because I allowed a “slower” runner to compete.  I stood my ground because he had been at all the practices and tried his best.  At an awards banquet after we won the NYC Championship (arranged by a staff member who got the community to pitch in) a mother grabbed me and gave me a big hug.  She was so appreciative that I had allowed her son to compete even though she knew he wasn’t the greatest athlete.  She said it was really hard raising him as a single mother and I was responsible for changing his attitude and building his confidence.  
Don’t exclude #stuvoice.  Listen to your students and make sure you know how each child likes to learn.
The best curriculum I ever wrote was done collaboratively and we opened the door to anyone who had ideas.  In my writing career producing educational materials for the utility companies I learned so much because I listened to all parties: children (my best reviewers), educators, parents and utility personnel.  
Don’t exclude anyone who wants to help.  

I am excited about #EdProdChat

#EdProdChat is starting real soon and I can see this will be a tremendous way to find out about great products to use in your school.  This much needed forum will give teachers a chance to interact with the designers of products that are used in classrooms.  It will also benefit the developers who will get real feedback on their work.  Both parties want students to learn and it will lead to better products being used in classrooms throughout the world. We are not endorsing these products but showcasing them because we feel they will be valuable additions for student learning.
When I wrote educational activities for the utility company I developed not only a teacher review network but one for children as well as industry personnel. The final product was successful because of the input from all these points of view.  
Please join us on #EdProdChat
First chat will be on Thursday, September 18th at 8pm EST featuring a project based learning App called WeLearnedIt.  Hosting will be WeLearnedIt CEO Adam Bellow @adambellow
The weekly #EdProdChat schedule of weekly chats will begin on the first Thursday of October (Oct. 2nd) at 8pm EST
Please sign up on REMIND using the class code: @edprod 
I am looking forward to #EdProdChat  because this constant learner loves finding out about wonderful products that will benefit students.

Students should be the real lead learners

I think it is wonderful that so many principals are adopting the title “lead learner.” It is definitely a role they need to assume.

However, the real lead learner should be each student as they follow their pathway to discovery. I feel it is everyone’s duty to allow children to lead their own learning and to model being a “constant learner” for them.  Show them that they can succeed if they put their minds to the tasks they face.


Let’s guide children but step out of their way as they lead their own learning. Make sure they are not afraid to try new things and learn from their mistakes. Give them the reins but be there if needed.


My Learning from Mistakes page

securedownloadHave your students set their own learning goals at the beginning of the school year.  Periodically have them review these goals and make any needed changes.  A good time to do this is once a month around a holiday period (October-Halloween, November-Thanksgiving…).

My Goals Page

Please make sure to listen to your children/students and find out what they really want.  Our job as parents and educators is to guide them on their way to learning.

My What Students Want Page