Category Archives: technology

Educon 2.2: Professional Development in my pj’s! #educon


Sounds too good to be true, huh?  Professional Development in your pajamas?  That is exactly what I did this weekend.  Unfortunately, I did not get tickets on time to go to educon in Philadelphia, so I had to go with plan B.  I had my laptop up and running with my #educon twitter feed running in one window and the Friday night keynote panel discussion:  What is Smart? streaming on in another window.  Here, I heard Loren Brichter, Martha Farah, Happy Fernandez, Eddie Glaude, and David Shenk discuss their thoughts on what they thought smart was.  While the discussion was going on, I was having other discussions about the topic on twitter.  What did I learn from the keynote panel?

  • Howard Gardner was right.
  • Dewey is still awesome.
  • Smart means different things to different people.
  • It is really hard to follow a neuroscience professor.
  • Passion for something is vital for being “smart” in it.
  • Elementary teachers resonate most with “smart” people.
  • My favorite question posed:  How do we make smart?

I woke up Saturday morning to watch the vokle stream of the morning keynote Marilyn Perez.  I found myself more concerned about what conversations I was going to attend than listening to the stream.  It was a good thing, though, because I got into my first choice conversation for session 1:  Teaching Big Ideas to 21st Century Learners with Ben Hazzard and Zoe Branigan-Pipe.  I will have to admit, that the technology of the elluminate session was painful at best to begin with.  So, while they were working on that, I was adding to my PLN (personal learning network) by searching through the #educon twitter feed.  Wow!  I am blown away by the people that I met and what they have to say about education and learning.  So, what did I learn from Zoe and Ben?

Ask yourself these questions when thinking about Big Ideas..

  • What are the relevant topics you can address with your students?
  • How can you make learning meaningful?
  • What are the Big Ideas your students will find relevant?
  • What 3 takeaways do you wish for your students.  Answers from the session can be found here.

During lunch, I followed Will Richardson to a demo by Jeff Han via ustream of the perceptive pixel, a multitouch interface that was amazing.

Next, I decided to multitask and attend two conversations.  The first was by Christian Long with the Alice Project.  The second was by David Warlick about Learning 2.0.  What did I learn here?

  • If you don’t establish boundaries, you can’t release creativity.
  • Ask students great questions and demand they prove it in public.
  • What does great learning look like?
  • Wow… The Alice Project
  • There are cool new tools for Blooms that were introduced here.

My last session of the day was with Chris Lehmann, the principal of the Science and Leadership Academy called, Leadership 2.0:  Who do we need our leaders to be?  Currently, I’m finishing my Master’s in Educational Leadership and working on my principal’s certification, so this one was the one I was really looking forward to.  There are some people that are born to be leaders; Chris Lehmann is one of them.  What did I learn from Chris?

  • Leaders need to use inquiry, technology infusion, and communities of care.
  • In inquiry learning, follow the lead of the students.
  • Technology should be a part of every day and transformative.
  • A caring community is one that is 24/7…in school, out of school, online, and off-line.
  • Character education needs to go deeper than the posters we hang around the school.
  • Teachers need to know the vision/mission of the school in order to incorporate it into their lessons each day.
  • Servant leadership is top down support for bottom up ideas.
  • Leadership is being able to get everyone on the same common ground, then move them forward.
  • You can’t bully teachers into caring for students.
  • Every good teacher knows how to outlive a mandate.

So, my mind was absolutely spinning from the day.  I took the kids out to Target and out to dinner.  When I got home, I went back to the #educon twitter feed to see what I could catch up on.  This community of learners were now synthesizing the information they learned in the other sessions that I couldn’t attend and were sharing it with all of us…now those are some great teachers/learners/leaders/collaborators!  I came across an ebook that was made in Ben Hazzard’s second session here:

Amazing how a group can collaborate so effectively!  Thanks to all who helped create the field guide.

Now it is Sunday morning…unfortunately, I won’t be attending any virtual conversations today because I have to catch up with the real world and everything I ignored yesterday.  Was it worth it?  Absolutely!  This was an amazing learning experience for me.  I have built a personal learning network that I will be able to learn from every day.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to meet them in person next year!

So….what did you learn this weekend???  ;o)

Learning to Change – Changing to Learn


I came across this video on kylepace that was created by COSN.  I was blown away by the video because I think it says everything about education today and in the future that has been swirling around in my head.  These are the things that resonated with me most from the video:

  • the kids are having a much more stimulating, enriching environment outside of schools than they are inside of schools
  • students are big communicators and content developers, yet all of the tools they use to do that are banned in schools
  • it’s about relationship, it’s about community, productivity, access
  • they live in the “nearly now” where they can reflect, retract, and research
  • the student is at the center and school is just one of the places that they learn
  • we’ve got a classroom system, where we could have a community system
  • we have to develop a narrative that sustains 21st century learning

Schools and teachers are going to have to seriously consider these factors when developing new curricula as well as daily lessons.  We need to take advantage that they are so connected to and use it in a meaningful, collaborative, and creative way.

This I Believe: Out of the mouths of babes


I am beginning a project with my 8th graders based on NPR’s This I Believe.  My students are writing about what they believe in 350-500 words.  I plan on having them podcast their pieces as well as create an “ipod” ad of themselves that is hosted on our wiki as the final project.

As I introduced the project, some of the students were struggling to define values and choose what five values are the most important to them…certainly a daunting task for 8th graders!  I found this amazing podcast on the website that was written by a kindergarten student.

When Tarak McLain’s kindergarten group celebrated their 100th day of class, some kids brought 100 nuts or cotton balls. Tarak brought a list of 100 things he believes. Now a first-grader, Tarak shares his top beliefs about God, life, nature and war.

Click here to listen to his “This I Believe” podcast.

I’ll keep you posted on the progress of my own students’ pieces!

My Life 24/7 Contest: Incorporating Character Ed in the Curriculum


I was trained in Character Counts about 5 years ago.  Since then, I have used their materials and website resources to build the advisory program.  In the past year, they have created a new teen-focused spin off of character counts called mylife 24/7.  Currently, they are running a contest that includes ethics, decision making, and character education into any curriculum via blogging or video.  The class needs to come up with a video that has an ethical dimension.  Some suggestions are:

  • random acts of kindness
  • taking care
  • acting up and taking a stand against injustice

The complete instructions and lesson plan can be found here.  Submissions are due February 1st, so there is just about enough time to do this with a small group of kids…I plan on doing this with my advisory this week!

Kindle: My Love Affair With Reading

I’ve had my kindle for over a year now, and can’t imagine life without it!  I’ve found that I read way more than I used to just because of its accessibility.  Some exciting news just broke yesterday that Kindle will now be incorporating apps into their kindle store!  Click here to read about it.

All of these books I have on my kindle sample list, wish list, or are sitting on my kindle waiting to be read!  Regardless of what ereader you choose, I strongly believe that ereaders are encouraging people to read more.  Now…if I could just get a kindle for each of my students!

Megan’s to-read book montage

Differentiating Instruction With Menus: Language Arts
Traits of Writing: The Complete Guide for Middle School
The Digital Writing Workshop
Let the Great World Spin
This Is Where I Leave You
Ophelia Joined the Group Maidens Who Don't Float: Classic Lit Signs on to Facebook
Nineteen Minutes
Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel
A Gate at the Stairs
Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It
Simple Wishes
Fireflies in December
Raising Jake
Her Fearful Symmetry
The Outlandish Adventures of Liberty Aimes
When You Reach Me
The Earth Hums in B Flat
The Weight of Heaven: A Novel
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
Olive Kitteridge: A Novel in Stories
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Whistling In the Dark
The Red Leather Diary: Reclaiming a Life Through the Pages of a Lost Journal

Megan’s favorite books »

21st century learners: a vision of students today

There has been a trend on youtube where students are visually representing how they learn and how they want to learn.  Below are three powerful videos that depict what 21st century learners need in the classroom. It is vital that we realize that we are preparing students for a world that we can’t even imagine right now. We need to embrace how they learn and take advantage of the technology that they are so connected to.

Higher Education

K-12 Education

I need my teacher to learn

6 word memoirs…what’s yours?


Legend has it that Hemingway was challenged to write a memoir in only 6 words.  I challenged my 8th graders to do the same.  The video below shows a short collection of our memoirs.  You can go here to see the entire project.

The original website can be located here.

I also used many excerpts from this book as examples:

(note:  some of the memoirs are not appropriate for reading in class)

Things that have become obsolete this decade


Check out this great post on The Committed Sardine Blog by Ross Crockett.  With my kindle, smartboard, and droid phone, I can’t imagine what the future will hold when these things become obsolete because they have changed the way I live and teach today.  To think that I dream of having a classroom that is completely paperless and wired…  I wonder what my students dream of in their ideal classrooms.  I think I’ll ask them tomorrow!