Posts categorized "Innovation" Feed

My Life as an Innovation Consultant: What Will 2016 Bring?

It's the start of a new year, and I'm re-organizing my professional life, setting goals and reflecting on nearly six years as an independent innovation consultant.

People often ask what I do and the answer is complicated. I have many professional interests revolving around innovation, educational technology,  social media, and global education. Perhaps the best title to give me is non-traditional educator.  I am an advocate for students and teachers, yet I am not employed in a traditional school setting. Instead, I partner with a variety of people, schools, organizations, and companies to lend my expertise and to promote educational change. Often educators are considered out of touch and less relevant if they leave school settings for consultancies. I would argue that my knowledge base has been greatly expanded because of my experiences.  I love what I do. 

Here's what's going on for me this spring and this may give you an idea of my current projects:

  • I attended FETC last week, gave a presentation on global project-based learning, and participated on a panel moderated by the US DoE's Zac Chase on closing the access gap.
  • Check out my blog post  on Participate Learning (formerly Appolearning) that highlights their unique Participate Chats feature. I've worked with this group off and on over the last years. 
  • The Waukegan Public Schools is hosting their annual Google N'More conference. I'll be there Saturday to talk about global project-based learning.
  • I began working with Edmodo to help guide their thought leadership around connecting to teachers. Stay tuned for more artifacts from this work. 
  • The annual Student Technology Conference run by Marymount of New York students takes place on January 30th. Proposals are still being accepted from students in grades 6-12. All are welcome to attend to learn from a great group of young technology leaders. 
  • Project Tomorrow runs a career exploration program for high school students in California and I'll be designing flipped modules for these students to learn about technology integration this winter. 
  • The Illinois Computing Educators conference takes place at the end of February and I'll be there as a conference committee member and as a presenter. Join us! It's really a fun and engaging professional development event. Note that there is a pre-conference free EdCamp After Dark event on Wednesday evening of the conference week among other special activities.
  • In March, I'll be attending the SxSWedu conference in Austin, Texas to learn and network. This conference has proven invaluable during the last few years.
  • The CUE National Conference takes place in mid-March and I'll be reprising my role as the official #notatcue ambassador. This means that I strategize with CUE and virtually monitor social media for this event. I've done this for their past two conferences, and it's really fun. I learn a lot and get to help out with an incredible conference. 
  • Don Buckley, Brandon Wiley, and I will be conducting a workshop for NYSAIS at Rye Country Day School in New York on April 16. Entitled Developing Global Connections in Your School, this experience will help participants apply the design thinking process to coming up with a plan for globalizing their school. We are also doing a mini-version of this workshop at the CoSN annual conference earlier in April. 
  • Finally, Steve Hargadon and I are gearing up for another round of  Globaled Events, pushing the global education agenda beyond our annual Global Education Conference. We are starting a publication on Medium and a webinar series in February. Soon we will announce Global Leadership Week which will take place at the end of April with a face-to-face event in Silicon Valley and a virtual mini-conference focused on inspiring action in the global education field. We also will be reprising our Global Education Day at ISTE meetup in June. All of these events are free for teachers; if you're interested in connecting to highly motivated, tech-savvy educators through our work, consider getting involved as a sponsor. Contact Steve Hargadon at for more details.

The aforementioned list of activities shows the range of workin which I engage. I really enjoy this variety as well as getting to know people through these projects. During the last few years, I've had the opportunity to serve as an innovation coach in several schools including Mercy High School in Michigan, D230 in Illinois, Falconer School in Chicago, and the Dwight School in New York and I've conducted several customized technology audits at schools for Educational Collaborators (EC, by the way, is a great community of ed tech leaders who can be deployed for any project). I really love helping schools strategize around innovation and this work has been immensely professionally satisfying. It's exciting to see schools move forward and tackle pressing issues, and I can help with providing resources, connections, and ideas for infusing innovation into their culture.

During my last innovation gig, I partnered with Don Buckley, formerly of the School at Columbia and now with Tools at School, to tag team the innovation process. Don turned out toe be a great thought partner; he worked with faculty using the design thinking process and advised the school's leadership team while I focused on professional development and overall management of the year-long project. This school is now positioned to take on this work themselves, and it's exciting to see new growth within this school. 

A new experience for me in 2015 was working with the startup Remind conducting teacher outreach. I love this tool, learned a great deal how it can be used in classrooms with surprising creativity, and had time to think about what teachers really need. Partly because of my work with Remind, I've also started to network more and I've particularly enjoyed a Chicago Hive meeting and two dinners with the Chicago DOLS group. I'm looking forward to continuing those activities.  And, perhaps the most out of my comfort zone experience I had in 2015 was attending an IBM data analytics conference as a social influencer and representative of the education field. This event was so different for me and expanded my interest on how data is used and perceived in the education world. I'm hoping to explore this further during 2016 and become a more active and aware data citizen. 

At any rate, I'm grateful for 2015 and am looking forward to what 2016 brings to my professional life! As always, I hope to continue to learn from and by inspired others around me, applying this knowledge to new projects. Professional generosity makes the world go around, and I look forward to working with people who share this vision on initiatives that matter. What's on your plate for 2016? 

What's New at Lucy Gray Consulting

In May and June 2015, I'll be at the following events. Hope you'll join me at one or more of these!

Registration for Global Education Day at ISTE is filling up; we're at 50% capacity. Sign up soon for this free event if you'd like to attend. This is our fourth year of hosting this event, and many attendees have remarked that it's one of their favorite events at the ISTE conference! 

Global Education Day is going to be our kickoff event for all activities related to the 2015 Global Education Conference. We're planning on announcing some additional events and changes at ISTE to our annual online conference, so stay tuned! 

For more summer professional learning opportunities, check out the events I've curated and bookmarked in this Evernote notebook. 

I've been also writing for the Ed Tech section of along with Ken Royal. Here are our articles for April:

In March, I took on a new project which was fun and enlightening.  I virtually assisted with social media efforts for the 2015 Annual CUE Conference. Using a variety of tools, I kept tabs on CUE's social media streams, responding to queries from attendees and pointing to various resources. I also ran a badging pilot for this event, working closely with BadgeList and CUE Inc. to develop a learning group. (Note that BadgeList is also teaming up with the Global Education Conference to expand on badge offerings for the 2015-2016 conference year.) As many readers know, I enjoy social media and I think I've found a new aspect to my work, working with organizations to boost their social media productivity and presence. Thanks to Mike Lawrence at CUE Inc. for suggesting this role at his conference this year!

Also, in March, I spent about a week visiting 15 Chicago Public Schools to interview teachers for the CPS Ones to Watch award which is presented at the district's annual Tech Talk Conference. I've done this off and on for the past few years, and it's wonderful to see how this program has grown. There are many more tech-savvy teachers and administrators in CPS than when I initially did work with them, and much of this is fueled by the adoption of Google Apps and the CPS Computer Science for All program. 

Finally, I'm wrapping up two long-term coaching projects this June. Along with design thinking expert Don Buckley, I've been working with a great international school in New York City this year to help them develop a road map for innovation. We conducted a comprehensive assessment for this school, wrote an extensive report detailing next steps and providing resources, held design thinking workshops with faculty and provided customized professional development. We see design thinking as an incredibly versatile tool for problem-solving within schools from strategic planning to re-thinking school policies to encouraging critical thinking with students. Our hope is that this school will continue to apply this strategy moving forward as they continue to cultivate a culture of innovation. 

The other project has been a Kajeet mobile learning pilot with Chicago Public Schools; information about this project is available here. I've been coaching teachers at Falconer School for the past two years as part of this. With both projects, it's been wonderful to see growth in the ways innovation takes shape at each school. 

I've found in the past few years that I deeply enjoy innovation coaching as described in the projects above. I've had several long-term projects where I've worked with schools, and I appreciate this process as it allows me to build productive relationships with administrators and faculty.  If you know of any school or district that is looking for this type of solution, I would appreciate the referral!

Up next... a rebranding of GlobalEdCon and my professional website. Stay tuned for my next update! 

Resources from Chicago Education Festival #edfestchi

Here's the narrated version of my slides. 


And here are my slides devoid of my scripted presentation.... the opening image won't appear. I uploaded another copy and perhaps it will start working properly. 



Download the PDF and Keynote files here:

Crossposted at EdSurge: Think Before You Buy Edtech

This post originally appeared in EdSurge.

News alert! Here's some breaking edtech news:

  1. There is no magic piece of technology or other silver bullet that will transform education;

  2. There is no laundry list of technologies that you should have in your school if you are trying to create new learning environments;

  3. Buying technology first and planning later will likely ensure a struggle--if not a flop.

A principal recently approach me about what should be on her school’s "edtech wish list."  Her teachers were already using interactive whiteboards and document cameras and eager to expand their work. A new building was under construction. The school’s architectural team was pushing the principal to make decisions about tech implementation, even though the building would not finished for almost a year.

What do to? It as bad as trying to pick out a living room rug for a house still under construction.  Worse actually. There was no technology plan in place. No one had talked about how to tie technology to the school's missions and goals. The principal was running out of time. A "wish list" of techie toys would amount to little more than bolting some gadgets and software onto the learning process and hoping for the best. My prediction: a whole lot of unhappy teachers and students.

Sadly that principal is no exception. More recently, an educator in another country reached out to me via Twitter. He wanted to know how to use educational technology in his country’s schools--in bursts of 140 characters, no less!

“How can teachers in my country use Apple technology to teach in classrooms in comparison a Promethean Interactive Boards and Classflow?” he tweeted.

Talk about a (seriously) apples to oranges comparison. Even via email, I couldn’t begin to answer his question. I wanted to take him back a few steps: Where was the planning process--the focus on teaching and learning? Only then can we legitimately ask how the technology can support learning goals.  

These well-intentioned questions also demonstrate to me that as education professionals, we have a long way to go in providing resources to schools that are just beginning to think about edtech. Schools and teachers throughout the US are all over the place when it comes to being prepared to teach today’s students, much less students of the future.

First things first: our schools need to implement a systematic process to modernize teaching and learning in their schools.

My advice? Start with what you want to achieve with the learning process and let everything else follow from there.

Yes, this process takes time. Ideally it should happen as organically as possible, giving all community stakeholders a chance to buy in.

Take a look at the steps outlined last year in the Consortium on School Networking’s Leadership for Mobile Learning initiative and the Guide for Administrators. Here's more on mobile learning programs: This framework could be applied to any edtech initiative in your district.

Mike Muir of the Auburn School District in Maine recently keynoted the annual Illinois Computing Educators Conference, and shared some of his resources that can help in planning and implementing education initiatives.

Among them: this post on creating a shared vision, a foundational element to the implementation of educational technology. He also made a great case for teacher empowerment and including various stakeholders. (If this interests you, make sure to check out his work with the Maine Center for Meaningful Engaged Learning and on Distributed PD as well.)

I can’t stuff recommendations for schools looking to innovate into a tweet, email or even shortlist. But, here are the steps that need to happen for a school to become a place of innovation. And yes, all the steps really matter!

  1. Find a way to truly listen to all stakeholders in your district. Run focus groups, hold meet and greets, conduct surveys in order to gauge the needs and concerns of teachers, students, administrators, parents and community members.

  2. Based on this data, invite a select group of stakeholders to serve on a committee tasked with conducting a deep dive into educational innovation.

  3. This group should analyze data collected in step 1, participate in group readings of relevant books and articles, and go on site visits to see the programs of exemplary schools that match your school’s culture.

  4. Once this innovation committee has had time to digest the aforementioned information, then the process for designing a thorough plan can begin. Starting with the creation a mission statement that reflects your district’s goals for teaching and learning and create a related vision statement specific to ed tech.

  5. With a working understanding of educational innovation, mission statement, and goals in place, proceed to develop a timeline for implementation over the course of three to five years. Review this plan continually and iterate on this plan as needed. The plans should change and improve based on your school’s experiences.

  6. Determine mechanisms for evaluating your teaching and learning plan, both qualitative and quantitative. Don’t wait for outside researchers to produce evidence that technology improves teaching and learning. Figure out how to measure the progress of goals as determined in step 4, reporting regularly to community stakeholders. If you’re expecting test scores to rise because of technology, you are barking up the wrong tree: it’s the quality ofteaching and learning that will improve test scores. Think about evaluating the impact of technology on other areas such as attendance, reduction of student discipline issues, and student engagement.

  7. Consider making your school improvement efforts transparent by blogging about your district’s work so that others can learn from you. Use this blog to showcase student work as well.

  8. Host site visits for other schools and even a mini-conference in which to highlight the work of your colleagues and to establish your school or district as a local leader in education.

One school that I've seen that really gets this process is Mercy High School, an Apple Distinguished School in Farmington Hills, MI. Last year, I worked with their school leaders to enhance plans to transition to iPads and to upgrade their use of technology in general. Entitled Mercy 2.0, this was a dream project to advise because the school leadership team shared a deep understanding of the issues at hand and had a united vision for what this project could do for their school. And they came together to listen to each other (and yes, to counsel from others including me.)

The Mercy leadership team made its thinking and efforts transparent through a blog, starting a student leadership team around tech, and held a local conference to showcase their work and to invite collaboration with other local schools. Read more about the work via various publications and courses that they’ve published in iTunes U.


It's fascinating to see such projects come together. I'll be looking for (and working on) other examples in the future along with  as my fellow innovation coach, Don Buckley. Let us know other schools that have followed some sort of process focused on teaching and learning that has resulted in exemplary education below! Where else would you direct people to look for examples of innovation done right?

Connecting to Educators

Warning: fiesty blog post below.

I get it . Everyone has an agenda. Some people need to sell products. I personally happen to promote the ideas and work of people and products that I believe in. I don’t support crap… usually... and I’m not particularly tolerant of thoughtlessness and mediocrity.

This is a blog post I’ve been meaning to write, and am finally getting around to what needs to be said. As a long time educator, consultant, and participant in social media, I’d like to share a few ideas with the ed tech community that might help various groups understand each other.

I started this post months ago after, via Twitter, I bit the head off of a PR person from a start up who asked me to re-tweet some report. This PR employee had never met me nor was even following me at the time on Twitter. It seemed spammy. I’ve also been irritated by events I’ve seen advertised in the edu innovation world that are entitled “Marketing to Schools” or “Selling to Schools”. Those phrases may not be offensive to people in the business world, but I think these phrases would make most educators’ skin crawl. The most annoying thing, though, is the number of generic, boilerplate press releases I’ve received because as a blogger, apparently I’m now considered a journalist (really?!) and have made it on to some well distributed list of writers/influencers. In the last year or so, I have never seen such a plethora of impersonal pleas for me to look at something or talk to some CEO (sorry titles don’t impress me either) about their world changing product. Come on, people, get creative! Look at the the Anchorman 2 marketing campaign for inspiration. Can’t you do better?

At any rate, I’ve been slowly building this, and adding links to my notes that I thought would be helpful to both educators and entrepreneurs. It’s time to be done with this piece as SxSWedu is looming and this is the venue where many educators and entrepreneur types will mingle. This conference actually might lend itself to authentic interaction between educators and companies, resulting in positive change in education. Who knows?

So, to understand my perspective, it might help to know a little about my background. I’m the child of two educators who grew up attending public and independent schools. I worked in Chicago Public Schools for a number of years as a elementary grade level teacher, and then taught middle school computer science at an independent school in Chicago and earned an M.Ed in Technology in Education around this time. My professional life became greatly enriched during this phase of my life as I had plenty of support and autonomy to focus on my teaching craft. As a result, I became an Apple Distinguished Educator and Google Certified Teacher. Seeking more leadership opportunities, I moved on to serve as a technology coach at a set of charter schools and worked at an ed tech advisor at a math and science education research group before starting my consulting business in 2010. The main impetus for going into consulting was that my expertise was increasingly being sought and it gave me a great deal of flexibility when my husband and I moved our family to the suburbs of the Chicago. (My children’s experiences in school are also a big driver in my thought process and advocacy work.)

I now work with schools and companies in a for profit capacity and run a couple of innovative online conferences. Throughout my various projects, it’s important to me to keep my finger on the pulse of what is going on in education because I’m not working as much inside school buildings. I still consider myself an educator on a less than traditional career path. I love what I do and how my current position allows me to travel the country (and beyond) to see interesting institutions, to interact with great educators, and to sometimes work on projects with progressive for profit institutions.

Teachers who become consultants sometimes run up against credibility issues in this field as others may think that they are out of touch with the realities of classroom teaching. Educators, in my experience, are also generally skeptical of the motives those employed by for profit entities. I’ve seen educators react very strongly to corporate involvement particularly in teacher organized events. I often wonder if those working for ed tech start ups who have not spent a lot of time working schools realize this.

I particularly enjoy working with teachers in professional development settings and and I value what they think of me as a consultant. Currently, I’m working in two school districts coaching teachers in mobile learning pilots. Authenticity is key to working teachers because they, in my experience, have built in bs detectors. I try to be cognizant of their needs and opinions, so that I can support them fully and earn their trust. I see myself as an advocate for educators and for excellence in education, and understand that good relationships are the cornerstone of my work.

That said, I’d like to offer some candid advice for ed tech start up world. Take it, leave it, or offer some additions. Below is a list of tips and resources that I think will help further the conversation between educators in the field and those outside who are trying to better understand their needs and develop products that are both needed and wanted.

I’ve also added a few items that may also help others learn how to approach education bloggers/journalists/thought leaders. And, at SxSWedu, blogger/educator Stephanie Sandifer points out in this post, there will be opportunities to engage on how to improve connections between educators and the business world…. I’m glad to see that none of these sessions has “Selling to Schools” or “Marketing to Schools” in the title!

So here goes:

  • Just like successful teachers do with their students, build authentic relationships with teachers. Support (and even attend) teacher-led, grassroots events like EdCamp or apply to one of EdSurge's well planned and thoughtful education summits where you can engage.

  • Educate yourself about education. Understand the history of education and contemplate the implications of ignoring the past. Read the research. What do you know the history of education reform? What do you know about pedagogy and curriculum? How would you do on the Audrey Test? (A classic blog post in my opinion!)

  • Respect and value experience. I’m sorry, but if you’re 25 years old and taught for 2 years, and then got a MBA from some highly ranked graduate school, it does not make you an education expert. Educational expertise comes from YEARS of working with kids in a classroom and from a great deal of professional development and discourse.

  • If you want teachers to go gaga over your thing/service/idea, create something that is extraordinarily useful and/or excellent to today’s overburden teacher. No one is going to champion your product if it sucks. And, please, no more drill and practice stuff. That’s what worksheets are for. Let’s have more products out there that really help to develop creativity, collaboration and communication skills… the pillars of work life in the 21st century and beyond. Or, solve a huge problem that is plaguing teachers… like develop a kickass system to easily and affordably purchase digital books and put them on devices across all platforms.

  • Until you have an established, positive relationship with teachers, don’t ask anything of an educator that takes too much time. Teachers are busier and more beleaguered than ever if you haven’t read the memo on ed reform lately. Respect their time.

  • In your next marketing meeting, don’t suggest another educator champion group. I belong to two and they have changed my life for the better, but again, be creative and think differently. Isn’t there another way you can support these users of your company/product? How are you going to support users who are not necessarily on the bleeding edge? You need to be careful, too, and not to exploit people who are your champions. Copying another company's idea isn't my idea of innovation either. 

And advice for approaching education “thought leaders”:

  • Do your homework about the education bloggers/journalists/thought leader you are approaching. While this Quora post by Robert Scoble does not specifically address education, I think it offers some wise words for those who want people in our field to listen to them. Here’s another set of tips for approaching journalists that could be applied in the education world as well.

  • On Twitter, I’m not going to follow you if you have the word marketer or visionary in your title or use the word “solution”. Act like a humble human, please, and avoid trite language in general.  And, don’t blanket the Twittosphere with generic, cut and paste Tweets inviting my participation to your event. Invite me once via email, and if I’m interested, I’ll consider it.  It is crucial not to waste everyone’s time with multiple communications. (By the way, I’m astounded by the number of press releases I receive and generally ignore, only to have PR people circle back, two and even three more times. Generally, if you don’t hear from me, there’s a reason. 

  • By the way, just because someone has thousands of Twitter followers, it does not necessarily mean that they are an expert by any means. Be wary of numbers! Find people to connect with who are really good and smart at their day jobs. You might have to do some research to find out who fits this bill, but it will be well worth it when you do connect to thoughtful educators.

  • Don’t ask people you’ve never met or previously interacted with to pass on your promotional material, research, information, etc. It’s not nice to use people in this regard and just seems like a lazy way to disseminate your work. Again, if your stuff is great, it will be take off virally. Follow educators, hope that they follow you back and put your stuff out there via your Twitter stream.

What else would you add? How do we demystify the world of an educator for the corporate world (and maybe vice versa) so that we can make a difference for the group that matters the most….our students and children? I’ll probably be adding to this list from time to time.

Update: Make sure to check out this post from June Labs, a startup designed to bridge the gap bewteen entrepeneurs and educators...a much more artful depiction of what's going on in the ed tech world:

Education Fast Forward #9

Make sure to tune into the ninth debate of Education Fast Forward on January 20. This  event is scheduled take in front of an audience of education ministers from around the world who are also attending the World Education Forum in London. It will also be broadcast  over the Internet, and recorded for those who aren't operating in the same time zone. Sponsors of this include Promethean and Cisco Systems. 

I've been invited as a special guest to my third EFF debate which means I'll be connecting to the meeting from New York via Telepresence, Cisco's impressive videoconference system. Two presenters and a moderator will start the debate and then invited guests, such as myself, will potentially contributing to the ensuing discussion. It truly is a global conversation as special guests and EFF fellows will be joining in from far flung corners of the world. 

You can see previous debates in the playlist below; I particularly recommend EFF #8 as Michael Fullan was one of the featured guests and he is always incredibly insightful into educational change. 

The featured speakers for EFF #9 are Senator David Coltart of Zimbabwe,  Vicky Colbert, founder of Colombia’s Escuela Nueva, and Ramji Raghavan, founder of India’s Agastya International Foundation. Ramji was one of our keynotes at last year's STEMxCon and I think you'll be inspired by all the featured speakers' work. 


I Love My Work!

image from the past couple of years, I've been working as a consultant, traveling to various locales to generally help others think about innnovation in education. This work has included running an online global education conference, delivering presentations at conferences, conducting one day workshops, curating news, writing curriculum and offering insight to individual schools, school boards, and established companies. Interestingly, I'm increasingly getting more inquiries from ed tech start ups on how best to connect to educators as well. 

I've been inspired by many places I've visited and by many people I've met along the way; one project has stood out to me as particularly ideal. Since last Spring, I've worked with fellow Apple Distinguished Educator Larry Baker to think about customized professional development as part of his school's "Mercy 2.0" initiative. Mercy High School is located in Farmington Hills, Michigan, and is currently transitioning its one-to-one device program for students from PC tablets to iPads. All faculty members and freshman students have iPads; upperclassmen were given the choice of sticking with the PC tablets or purchasing an iPad (approximately 200 students did so, interestingly enough). 

It's important to note that Mercy has an amazing leadership team (comprised of the head of operations, tech director, dean of students, principal, department heads and president of the school)  that has been thinking and planning this transition for a significant period of time begininng with two briefings with Apple. The admin team is all on the same page in terms of believing in the power of technology to transform learning and also in their shared goal of creating a more robust digital culture within their school. For Mercy's leadership team, using iPads in the classsroom is not an optional choice for their teachers and they fully understand that they need to provide the support and professional development necessary to help their faculty become more successful. This leadership team is also very willing to listen to feedback from their faculty and alter plans as necessary in order  to meet faculty needs. I think the role of this leadership team has been invaluable to Mercy 2.0 and I've encouraged Larry to document the digital transformation process. You can read more about what they've been up to in his blog, and  Larry will also talk more about his work during a Mobile Learning Explorarations webinar for EdWeb this coming spring.

Because Mercy has been a digitally-oriented school for a number of years, Larry and his admin team colleagues have felt that that Mercy faculty needed specialized professional development focused on teaching with the iPad specifically and thinking through how to fully utlize iPads on the classroom.  I've been contracted to spend 5 days at Mercy over the course of this year in order to help make this happen. I spent two days there last Spring, meeting with each department and conducting informal intake assessments and then returned in August to lead workshops with another Apple Distinguished Educator, Cheryl Davis. Mercy also held drop in sessions for help with specific workflow apps and workshops on using Google Apps over the late spring and summer, and required teachers to complete 10 tasks related to using the IPads and post about this to Moodle. New teachers and students attended an iPad bootcamp as well. So, by the time fall and the acutal rollout to students arrived, many teachers felt that they had had enough professional development and need time to actually implement. It was a good  time to re-think about how best to use my time at Mercy.

Larry and his team then came up with the brilliant idea of inviting me back to work specficially with students. Imagine that! I was thrilled with the idea of helping Mercy iPad "wizards" come up with a plan to create a student-run tech program. During our planning meetings, I emphasized to Larry that this group should really be student-owned and that the adults would be there to facilitate, not co-opt, this group. 

Thus, last Friday, I met with 26 enthusiastic and articulate young women to help them think about how they could establish a tech group at Mercy and serve as leaders within their school community. To see what we discussed, take a look at our agenda which is a little messy, but you can see our course of action for the day. You can also learn about other student-run tech programs linked to in this document and shared by colleagues from the ISED-L listserv.

We started off getting to know each other by sharing our favorite apps and tech super powers. The girls also gave us postive constructive feedback on how well the iPad program rollout is going. We then dove into a list of links and did some preliminary research on other student-run tech programs. Steve Hargadon happened to ping me while trying out videoconferencing on his phone, so we chatted with him for a bit, and also held Google Hangouts (of which one is recorded) with Jason Markey and Kern Kelley. Jason included one of his students in our conversation and they discussed their for credit student tech help desk; Kern talked about his Tech Sherpas program. Make sure to watch Kern's video and to read Larry's reflections on the day for more details. At the end of the day, we brainstormed ideas for the structure of our program, started an outline and joined a Ning created by Mercy tech director Tom James in order to faciliate group communication going forward. 

Friday was an incredibly satisfying day for me, most notably because I spoke my piece, and then let the girls explore, discuss and brainstorm ideas for THEIR group. I was really impressed by their poise and enthusiasm and I was also stunned to realize how much I miss teaching. There is nothing like working with students and having synergystic moments when you know you are reaching them.

At any rate, working with Mercy High School has been such an amazing experience. We've mutually learned from each other and I've grown to really admire the leadership and teaching exhibited at this school. I can't wait to see what these tech "wizards" come up with as they continue to form their group, and I hope that I'll have the opportunity to work with others schools in a similar fashion in the future!    




One More Thing...

Just posted this to the private Apple Distinguished Educator community site, and I thought I'd share it here as well.

While discussing an upcoming keynote today with a group, I started thinking about the phrase, "One more thing..." and realized that there are two different interpretations of these words in our world. The first comes from beleaguered educators who are faced with changing their teaching in a digital age; the other comes from Steve Jobs who always had us on the edge of our seats when he invoked that phrase. Teachers often perceive technology as one more thing added to their overburdened duties, but coming from him, you knew that something magical and transformative would follow. If only we could turn "One more thing.... " into something more positive for our colleagues who haven't yet grasped the power of technology to amplify teaching, learning and general human experiences. Let that be our mission moving forward... to continue evangelize the spirit of innovation and to never stop believing that we can collectively change the world. 

That said, I'm eternally grateful to Steve and Apple for allowing me to be a part of this community. It's been such a rich opportunity to partake in Apple culture and to learn from so many gifted and visionary people. When I first became an Apple Distinguished Educator, many people told me it would be a life changing event. I admittedly was skeptical, as how often are we given the heads up that a life change experience is imminently upon you? Time, however,  has proven this to be true, and I want to thank everyone at Apple for inspiring me to be a better educator, advocate for excellence, and active participant in this world. Let's carry on, always remembering all that Steve stood for.  We still have a lot of work to do!


Why Change?

Just had a conversation with a rural GA super and his tech director for a project I'm working on. They are modernizing teaching and learning in their district because they clearly understand that they have to change in order to meet the needs of their students and to prepare them for life in this increasingly complex world. Their teachers are on board with this, and are embracing the opportunities and tools that they can access. 

It's refreshing to meet people who get this, and it's occurred to me that there are districts out there who don't feel this pressure. If you don't feel pressure to change, if everything has always worked and your students are generally successful, why adapt and move forward with modernizing your institution? I think this is the crux of the problem i see in my travels and conversations... the problem is that here in the US, we have widely disperate attempts to move forward with updating teaching and learning. We're aren't experiencing the same conditions that maybe drive change. And, maybe administrators aren't getting out of their districts enough to learn from each other and to realize that they are falling behind. 


The privilege I have in my work right now is learning through visits and conversations with a wide variety of people working in the education field, and it's so fascinating to me the wide range of initiatives and work that are taking place in our schools and beyond. How do we "map this space" as my friend Betsy Corcoran of EdSurge would say? How can we present a fuller picture of the projects and possibilities that are happening forward thinking school districts? 


Just a few thoughts for today... 

What's new and exciting?

What's new and exciting in your classroom and school? Well, relatively new and exciting as most US schools are on summer break!

I'm looking  to refresh some presentations/workshops and am interested in telling stories related to the compelling things going on in my PLN's classrooms.  Please share any relevant links, too!

These topics are of particular interest:

- anything related to PBL supported by technology
- mobile learning with any sort of device
- bring your own device programs
- Android or iOS apps related to global collaboration/awareness
- Using iOS devices to differentiate instruction
- social networks in schools (Not many schools seem to be going in this direction, but are you building a social network for your students to use in house or have you purchased a solution? Or, are you leveraging Facebook instead? Anything related to using SNs for educational purposes would be interesting.)

Some of the above relates to my work with the Consortium for School Networking on a mobile learning initiative and to a iTunes U global guide I'm developing with ADE colleagues. The rest are related to workshops I'll be giving in August... I'll be sure to share everything when I'm ready. 

Thanks in advance!

What Truths Do You Hold to be Self-Evident About Education?

Chris Lehmann: The Great American Teach-In: Listening to Students.

Sam Chaltain: What's Your Declaration of Education?.

What truths do you hold to be self-evident about education? Please join me and many other education stakeholders in exploring the state of US education during the Great American Teach-In (, scheduled to take place on May 10th. 

During this event, we will be examining what it means to be educated in the 21st century and formulating solutions to improve education. I believe that in order to do this thoughtfully, we must look within ourselves to identify and articulate our fundamental beliefs about the purpose of education. Participants will be encouraged to draft their own Declarations of Education in some format and to share these ideas with the world. 

The following questions were developed to help participants reflect and over the next few weeks, I think I'll tackle these in blog posts here in preparation for writing my own Declaration. I see this as sort of an cathartic exercise similar to NPR's This I Believe series. I hope you'll think about these as well and take the time to create your own vision of education.

1. When and where do I learn best?
2. What does an ideal learning environment look like?
3. How closely do our current places of learning resemble our ideal learning environment?
4. What barriers to learning/growth exist within our current environments?
5. What will we do to make our current learning environments more perfect places to work and learn?

I also am thinking about how to involve my own kids, ages 8 and 12, as I think they have opinions on this matter. I'd like to help them better articulate their feelings about school, and to think metacognitively about their learning in order to advocate for themselves. 

Let's change the current tone with education and focus on what works, what needs to change, and how we can do it together. 

On My Mind

A couple of things related to the SMART board sessions I led this week....

First, none of the teachers at this event brought laptops or seemed to have mobile devices. A few had iPhones. This was a second grade conference,  not a tech conference, so that isn't a shocker necessarily, but the fact that some teachers/schools don't see a device as a professional need is interesting. This is also probably exacerbated by funding issues, I would think.

Most teachers in my sessions had interactive whiteboards installed in their classrooms, and big surprise, had had little or no training.  A few didn't know that they had to orient their boards. School districts MUST provide support in this area if they expect the IWBs to used effectivelt and this training must involve more than just an overview of the technical aspects. Investigations into good pedagogical use also must be part of the conversation and on-going.

Also, when encouraging the participants to take charge of their own professional learning through social media, I found that not one teacher was on Twitter. Twitter is not the be all and end all tool, but it's been so critical in my learning. I was surprised by the divide between the educators in my world and this group; I think it's indicative of a larger chasm that isn't being addressed. In short, I think we have a long way to go before the idea of the "highly connected teacher" (as espoused in the National Educational Technology Plan) is a reality. We have a lot of work to do, folks!

Finally, when browsing resources for interactive whiteboards, I couldn't help but notice the plethora of IWB interactives and lessons that have been developed in the UK by not only teachers, but organizations. This is primarily due to the widespread penetration of IWBs in that part of the world. There is a ton of free and accessible content available to UK teachers, and it made me wish that there was more of a priority in this front in the U.S. Are DoE funds supporting the development of  GOOD content in a more comprehensive and practical way? Perhaps more is going on in this area than I realize, so educate me.

Also, while doing my research, I was absolutely stunned to find out that the UK's Teachers TV is shutting down. This follows the equally stunning demise of Becta, their formidable ed tech agency. The UK has been on the forefront of innovation in educational technology, and these are huge blows. I first learned of Teachers TV at Alan November's BLC conference and have been impressed with this method of professional development delivery. Again, I'd love to see something like this developed in the US, but if we're seriously talking about not funding groups like PBS and NPR, I wonder if I should even hope that are priorties are really focused on education. These are definitely dark days... How are we supposed to improve under these conditions?



Re-visiting My Newsreaders

This is a follow up to Finding and Managing Stuff, a post  I wrote in January about organizing sources of information.  A friend recently mentioned that she wanted to get started following that advice, but hadn't had time. My suggestion for her is to start with developing a newsreader, and attached to this post is a file that will save her a huge amount of time in getting this started.

Newsreaders are tools where you can follow multiple blogs, news, Twitter feeds etc. in one spot. The technology behind newsreaders is called RSS and the analogy that's often used is newsreaders are like magazines. You can go out to the newsstand and purchase a magazine, but it's much easier to have the magazine come to you via a subscription. Newsreaders allow you to subscribe to a variety of sources of information and then you can access this stuff in one spot. New items pop up in your reader as they are published, too, eliminating the need to manually check web sites to see if there's new content.

Back in 2005, I started using the application called NetNewsWire as my news reader. I still like it as I find it easy to organize subscriptions in this tool, although I do use Google Reader as well as it has some other features.  I haven't fallen in love with Google Reader, but it works well enough, particularly on mobile phones.

Over the course of the past couple of years, I've been relying more and more on Facebook as my de facto newsreader (and Twitter somewhat), and it's become easier to manage with tools such as PostPost. Facebook is a great way to stumble upon news items, but I recently came to the realization that I still have a need to monitor some blogs and news sites a bit more closely. I used to subscribe to everything that came my way, but I'm now thinking that a carefully vetted set of resources would better suit my current research needs.

Thus, I'm returning to my newsreaders and plan to spend more time utilizing them in my work. NetNewsWire will still be a place where I subscribe to everything, but a more vetted set of news sources will be in my Google Reader feed. Over the weekend, I went through my current subscriptions and weeded out defunct blogs etc and created  a streamlined set. I exported it into OMPL format and this file can be imported into any newsreader.

To import the attached OMPL file  into your newsreader, download this file (Download LucyRSS). Then, go to Google Reader, login, and click on the Settings link in the upper right hand corner. Select Reader Settings, Import/Export, and then browse to the downloaded OPML file. Click on the upload button, and you'll be good to go.

The selected feeds in my OPML file are a mix with a strong focus on technology, education, and news. I subscribe to a variety of sources (Delicious, Diigo, Twitter, YouTube,regular web sites) to show how one can follow different types of information. If some of the feeds are not interesting to you, delete them from Google Reader by going to Settings>Subscriptions and editing as needed.

Hope someone out there will find this useful, and let me know if you are able to start using Google Reader now that you have some resources to follow!




Mission Accomplished!

On behalf of my Global Education Conference co-chair, Steve Hargadon of Classroom 2.0, and myself, I want to extend our deep felt thanks to all who participated in last week's online conference. We are particularly grateful for our amazing volunteers, partner organizations, and presenters who gave shared their expertise during the course of the week. Professional generosity really made this unique conference happen!

This free event took place entirely online using the videoconferencing tool, Elluminate. Everything went relatively smoothly with 15,028 unique logins, 8,372 hours of presentations attended, and 32,681 web site visits just this week.  Sessions were recorded and can be viewed at your leisure on the conference web site. 

We are really pleased with the success of our inaugural event and are thinking of how we can best carry the spirit of the conference forward.  Join the official social network of the conference to stay in contact and keep developing the feeling of community that many of us experienced, particularly during the closing session. Please continue to use the Global Education Collaborative to share your work, to point out great resources, and to nurture global friendships! 

If you were able to attend any live sessions, we'd love your feedback, so please take time to reply to this post in the GEC. Leave comments or post a link to your blog if you've already reflected on what you've learned. Please also visit the conference wiki, and consider joining this space to add to our growing collection of global education materials.

Stay tuned for more developments! The conference is only the beginning!

Conference Quick Links

Wiki - search for resources or add your own

Mentor Program - become a mentor or find partners for collaborative projects

Social Network - keep the conversations going

Facebook - become a fan

Flickr - share photos; participate in simple collaborative conference activities

Slideshare - presenters, post your slides here

Twitter - follow conference announcements

Twitter Search - check out what others are saying about the conference

Map - add your location to this Google Map

Networking Directory -find and quickly connect to other conference attendees


Breakthrough Learning @Google: Day 1 Video

Get a taste of the Breakthrough Learning education summit that was held at Google at the end of October. I had the great privilege of attending this historic event and I'm glad to see that the ideas discussed are shared this way with the general public. As a friend noted afterwards, this stuff needs to go viral in the way TEDTalks have.

I've been involved peripherally with Google's education efforts since 2006 as a blogger for the Infinite Thinking Machine and as a Google Certified Teacher. It's been exciting to watch their education initiatives develop, and this event was significant as it indicates that Google plans to continue its role in conversations about education at a national level. The fact that both CEO Eric Schmidt and co-founder Sergey Brin addressed this audience was not lost on me, and I can't wait to see what develops as a result of this two day convening of people influential in the world of education.

I love education conferences in general, and could soak up the ideas of others forever, so I enjoyed 99% of the speakers at Breakthrough Learning. I was particularly struck by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who apparently really knows education through his involvement with the California State Board of Education and KIPP. He's clearly a brilliant guy who understands that there aren't quick fixes to our nation's educational woes. I also loved NYC principal Jason Levy's story of turning around his school with computers and Google Apps. As one of the few practitioners represented in the speaker line up, his presentation was truly compelling.

Here's the official Google video from day 1. More to come!


Also, check out Esther Wojcicki and Jason Levy in these videos:


Educate the Fear Out of Them

Thank you, Cheri Toledo, for this phrase.

In Google Wave, several educators have been discussing the fact that all the great tools and learning environments that we regularly explore are blocked in many districts.

This blog post by Ewan McIntosh also has me thinking:

I think we need a significant repository of schools where Web 2.0 technologies are welcomed and used in a safe and thoughtful manner. These stories would serve to educate the districts out there who are grappling with implementation and safety issues.

I was part of a team that created such a space last summer as part of an Apple Distinguished Educator project last summer. This online network was created for the purpose cited above, but I also think that we need a simple directory of schools as well. So I am also creating a Google doc form for this purpose:

Please fill out this form or pass it on to someone who might want to share their information. All fields are optional. To see the results, visit

It's time to embrace innovation and networked learning, people!


Friday 5: Cool Sites

For the past month, I've been babbling about interesting web sites for kids and teachers at (, Chicago's first user-generated content radio station. It's an initiative of our local NPR affiliate and it broadcasts on the internet and at 89.5 if you're in the Chicago/Northern Indiana area. The station is a really interesting concept and I think a sign of the ways things will go with radio. Anyway, I thought I'd share 5 of my favorites from this series with you today. Enjoy! 1) Eduweb's Portfolio Interactive games for kids 2) Sumo Paint A free online image editing tool 3) Great webcam tours of a wildlife reserve in South Africa 4) The National Day of Writing Starting in October, you can contribute to your own gallery of writing! This is a great initiative to focus on all kinds of writing. 5) Interactive Exhibits from the Library of Congress Explore primary source materials and much more at this very cool and creative site.

Another Good Quote

This comes from research cited in Future Lab's Opening Education: Towards New Learning Networks. 
"If academic standards are to be raised in a sustainable way, and broader educational aspirations achieved, then educationists will have to see their role in creating social capital rather than just improving classroom practice."

George Otero and John West-Burnham
Educational Leadership and Social Capital

Futurelab - Resources - Publications, reports & articles - Opening Education reports - 2020 and beyond

Futurelab - Resources - Publications, reports & articles - Opening Education reports - 2020 and beyond.
I'm going through several FutureLab reports for a project at work, and I found a quote worth sharing in this document:

Why, then, should educators consider some of the current predictions of developments in digital technologies?

If educators are to shape the future of education) and not have it shaped for them by external technical developments) it is crucial that we engaged with developments in digital technologies at the earliest stages. We need to understand how best we might harness these changes. Without this early engagement we risk, as always being the Cinderella sector of the technology world - constantly receiving the hand-me-downs from the business, defence and leisure industries and then trying to repurpose them for educational goals. Withouth this early engagement, we also risk designing educational practies and approaches that will be rendered obsolte and anachronistic in the context of new human-technology capabilities."

Well put!

Midwest Tech Forum 2009 Handout

Check out the handout for my portion of the Web 2.0 panel at Tech Forum Midwest tomorrow! This is intended to be a short overview of Web 2.0 and its implications for education. I've also included some web sites and readings for further exploration. Lucy Gray • Tech Forum - Midwest 2009 Lucy Gray • Tech Forum - Midwest 2009 Lucy Gray This is a handout I created for Tech Forum - Midwest in 2009. It gives a definition of Web 2.0 and the implications of such tools in education. Find recommended tools and resources in this handout.

Lucy's List: March Update to Interesting Twitterers to Follow

I published a list awhile ago of recommended people to follow if you are just getting started with Twitter. I'm appending that list in this post and my suggestions reflect a wide variety of Twitterers, not just people involved in the field of education. I find it fascinating the many ways people have chosen to use this tool.

Have fun exploring and feel free to list any other recommendations in the comments section of this blog! I've posted these suggestions in no particular order.

Your Personal Daring Dozen ?


The Daring Dozen 2008: Our Heroes | Edutopia

Istock_000001643192xsmall_2 Just a quick post today (I'm using the bookmarking service Diigo to bookmark and annotate this link simultaneously) to point out Edutopia's 2008 edition of its annual Daring Dozen list. It reminds me of a friend currently reading Rafe Esquith's Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire, who recently announced to me that this particular book makes her want to be a better person. This list sparks the same inspiration in me; it makes me want to be an innovative thinker and activist. I particularly like the interviews at the bottom of each profile in which the dozen discuss their own sources of inspiration, uses of technology and advice for others.

If you could make your own Daring Dozen list, who would make your cut? Who are others out there that we all should know about?

Cross-posted at the Infinite Thinking Machine and  High Techpectations

A Call to Action

I normally am very into TED (Technology Entertainment and Design), an annual invite-only conference that takes places in Monterey, California. I was so busy a few weeks ago when the conference took place that I vaguely noticed that Dave Eggers was one recipient of the TED prize this year. Previous winners include Bono and Bill Clinton, and basically they are honored by having a world-improving wish granted. It's idealism at its highest. Check out Dave's TEDTalk below; besides the prize winners, various presenters do 20 minute presos on their life's work throughout the conference. I would love to be a fly on the wall there!



Via Twitter last night, a friend pointed out one outcome of Eggers' wish: Once Upon A School. This web site is a repository for people's ideas for getting involved in public schools. I love this idea and think the structure of the initiative itself and the examples lend themselves to a brilliant simplicity.  It makes me think that all will be well in this world when I see people leading efforts to make real change happen. It's not easy to pull off something like this on a large scale, so kudos to Eggers and company doing so. I'm very excited to see what comes out of this, and around midnight last night I immediately emailed info to friends and colleagues! I was so jazzed I couldn't sleep!


If you haven't read Eggers' first book, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, you must. He has a great style to his writing, and what struck me about the book was his descriptions of the town where we both grew up.  Although we went to the same high school (he may have entered after I graduated), I did not know him, although his sister was in my Latin class. I thought I was the only person that felt a certain way about our conservative town, and it was a relief to read his articulate words that echoed my thoughts. I must re-read that book! Anyway, I'm very happy for Eggers and glad that he's enjoying so much success in such a meaningful way.

Here are a few other things to check out related to his TED Prize work:

TED Prize >> Dave Eggers

Dave Eggers' Wish Blog

Dave Eggers' Wish Discussion

826 Valencia National Seminar - learn more about the writing tutoring center started by Eggers


So what are YOU going to do to change the world? Pass this info on at least!


Social Entrepreneurship

I've been traveling like a madwoman to various conferences and speaking engagements. I could write a book on what I am learning, but for the sake of brevity, I'd like to post on the idea of social entrepreneurship. The keynote of the NCTI conference last Wednesday was Jim Fruchterman, a literal rocket scientist, who's decided to do good in Silicon by founding a company called Benetech. He clearly was a brilliant fellow and I was impressed with his Bookshare initiative, which digitizes books for the learning, hearing, and visually impaired. His efforts extend to helping human rights causes via technology, too.  I think his organization is well worth following.

Secondly, on the plane ride home, I met a young woman who works for TOMS, a company that makes cute espadrille-type shoes to benefit shoeless people in other areas of the world. The head of her company is now in South Africa, doing a shoe drop for people in need. Krissy also told me about two other organizations that she's involved with in which they sell merchandise to raise money: Invisible Children and To Write Love on Her Arms. Combined with the purchase of a laptop for my daughter via OLPC, thinking about the sense of energy and hope these groups bring to the global table makes me hopeful for our planet! I'm glad idealism still exists. Anyone know of similar groups that they want to share?

Fast Company Blog Post on Education & Technology

Education: Technology -- Academic Godsend or Demon?  Annotated


"At age 55, Professor Nazemi stands on the far shore of a new sort of generational divide between teacher and student. This one separates those who want to use technology to grow smarter from those who want to use it to get dumber."

  • I follow Fast Company's Twitter feed, and tonight I followed a link to a blog post entitled Education: Technology -- Academic Godsend or Demon which gives a good, brief description of the dilemma faced by most ed tech professionals: What makes the use of technology compelling? Why engage in something that can be done just as well in a low tech way? I think I'll refer to this post in my preso next weekend in Palm Springs. I particularly like this quote, "At age 55, Professor Nazemi stands on the far shore of a new sort of
        generational divide between teacher and student. This one separates
        those who want to use technology to grow smarter from those who want to
        use it to get dumber."
        Incidentally, I highlighted this quote and wrote annotations to myself using Diigo. I am now posting these annotations directly to my blog! I think I am going to like this tool.
        - post by elemenous

Another Hit: Google Docs in Plain English

I love all the videos from Common Craft and here is one that's new to me. I just added it to my favorites in You Tube, which I'm increasingly relying on as a way of bookmarking videos I frequently use in workshops. You can view my channel here to see my favorites and videos I've created myself, although I haven't  upload many of those.

Anyway, I'd love to see more Common Craft videos explaining Google features such as Google Groups. I just made a Google Group for my daughter's soccer team, and some parents found joining and using the group perplexing. It's a reminder to me that all this techie stuff may be easy for me, but somehow, something gets lost in translation and other perfectly intelligent people don't find it that way and miss the power of today's internet. I really need to rethink how I explain techie stuff to people...

Friday 5: Ning

Hey Everyone -

A year or two ago, during the early stages of my foray into Web 2.0 applications,  I was introduced to a web site that I really didn't quite get called Ning. My vague recollection of the original Ning was that one could create various items to share with others such as a list of books. I recall exploring it a bit, not finding it particularly user friendly or compelling, and setting it aside for other Web 2.0 tools.

Fellow ITM blogger Steve Hargadon revived my interest in Ning last spring. Using Ning, he created two online communities that I joined, and I found that this social networking tool had completely changed since my initial exploration. In a nutshell, anyone can create a customized space online, make it public or private, and invite others to participate via threaded discussions, the sharing of multimedia, and posting of blog entries. Ning communities can be further embellished with all sorts of web widgets that are available from third party developers as well.

I am fascinated by how quickly Steve's Classroom 2.0 Ning caught on. Since March 2007, nearly 3000 educators have joined this group which focuses on using Web 2.0 tools (Flickr,, Google Docs & Spreadsheets are examples of this). For some reason the format put forth by Ning seems conducive to participation by others. Several worthwhile communities have since developed and I thought I'd share them with you this week.

I think Ning is a powerful tool because it makes it easy for educators to take charge of their professional development by interacting virtually with other like-minded souls. For instance, I've had answers to questions within hours, been directed to great edtech resources, philosophized with online colleagues about the state of education, and even met many of my fellow "friends" on Ning in person at conferences. My personal network has grown substantially because of this.

Keep your eye on Ning as it is still being developed and additional features are frequently announced. Recently, Steve started another group that focuses just on the uses of Ning within education. Ning wasn't necessarily developed as an education tool, but it seems teachers have found their Ning experiences worthwhile and are eager to try it out in their classrooms. Something has to be done about advertising within Ning sites before I will try it out with younger students, but in the meantime, it's a great tool for working with adults or maybe even high schoolers.

I hope you'll check out the following Ning groups and consider joining one or two! Let me know if you know of any other good Nings!


Lucy Gray


1) School 2.0

This is one of Steve Hargadon's original Ning sites and it focuses on rethinking schools under 21st century terms.

2) Classroom 2.0

Here's a very active group in which people explore the use of emerging technologies in education.

3) Ning in Education

4) Global Education Collaborative

Yes, this is a shameless plug for a Ning that I started and have been nurturing. If you're interested in global education related topics, this is the Ning for you. Many educators from around the world have joined this adventure and are in need of global collaborative partners. If you are looking for resources, projects, and ideas, this is the place for you! We will be holding our first online meeting this Sunday evening CST. Email me if you're interested in participating.

5) Literacy Coaches

Matthew Needleman's new literacy site is designed to support coaches in his district using the Open Court reading series, but it is open to everyone and growing! Literacy coaching is a fairly new concept to me and I'm interested in it as its practiced in my new set of schools.

6) Open Education

Learn more about Open University's open source courses and materials here.

7) Library 2.0

A plethora of librarians have gathered here to share ideas and resources.

8) Learning 2.0 Conference

This event is taking place right now in Shanghai. Isn't is amazing how we can now follow along and learn virtually? This is the Ning that interests me the most right now!

Global Education Collaborative Meeting #1

I'm playing around with this very cool video conferencing tool called FlashMeeting. It's sponsored by Open University, I think, which hosts all sorts of open source content and courses. FlashMeeting is used for research purposes, so you to submit an application to be able to book through them, and meetings are recorded. Anyway, I'm hosting my first FlashMeeting this Sunday evening (September 16th 8PM CST)to discuss global education efforts; please consider joining and sharing any ideas that you may have. The meeting will be available for viewing when we're finished, too.

If you need more info, please contact me or check out the Global Education Collaborative ning.

Blog Action Day 2007 : Remix This Idea

I found a link to this in the Google Earth Users Guide Project blog. The main site can be found here .  I  like this activist concept, and will be thinking about what I can blog about on October 15th.

In the meantime, what about an Education Blog Action Day? Wouldn't it be neat if edubloggers or any bloggers with an interest, for that matter, blogged on a particular topic in education on one day, tagged it with the same tags and made a statement to the world? What topics would be good for this? Hmmm....perhaps something related to  NCLB, School 2.0, early literacy, digital divide? What is a univeral issue for everyone with education?

Field Trips 2.0 Project

I am part of a group of teachers working on a project that we plan on submitting to the Apple Learning Interchange. Specifically, this project focuses on the idea of reinventing field trips as we traditionally know them. We'd like to show teachers how to plan effectively for mobile learning experiences, what great excursions look like, and help them kick field trips up a notch by taking advantage of collaborative opportunities, digital tools, and web-based resources.

Interested educators are welcome to join our project. There are a couple of ways you and/or your colleagues can help:

1) Add bookmarks to our resource collection in by tagging any great links with the tag: Fieldtrips2.0.

2) Let us link to your educational blogs, blog posts, and Google Earth files that deal with your own field trip experiences. We also would love links to geocaching projects. We will post your name and school along with any links you send.

3) Participate in a group audio and/or video. We want to record a conversation, preferably using iChat AV, between multiple educators on how to make a field trip work, particularly when using Apple stuff and other digital equipment.

Send any of us an email indicating strands of interest if you'd like to participate. Additional details will then follow.

Thanks in advance,

Lucy Gray - University of Chicago Charter School
Judy Beaver - Punahou School
Andrew Gardner - The School at Columbia
Julene Reed - St. George's Independent Schools
Mike Searson - Kean University

TwitterLit is genius » Slacker Manager

Link: TwitterLit is genius » Slacker Manager.

First we had Jerome Burg's GoogleLit Trips... now we have TwitterLit. This seems like a way to drive people to purchase books through an Amazon affiliation, which is all fine and good, at least for the person who's profitting from this. What if we educators used Twitter in this manner? Maybe to have students match quotes to authors or to recall trivia? Any other ideas out there? My Twitter name is elemenous, if you care to add me as a friend!

Not Invited to the Buffet

Link: Not Invited to the Buffet.

There has been some response in the blogosphere to Tim Holt's musings about diversity in ed tech leadership, and I suppose his post could be considered timely as many well known ed tech leaders will be strutting their stuff at NECC next week.

I've thought often about the fact that there are very few compelling women on the ed tech speaker circuit, and I have a couple of theories, based on nothing scientific. As I am co-organizing spotlight and keynote speakers for the Illinois Technology Conference for Educators this year, I can tell you that there are many more men then women on my short list for presenters. What exactly is the problem? Are men more self-promoting? Do men like to hear themselves talk more than women? Are more men usually sitting in the educational seats of power and thus are more likely to be asked to speak at events? Generally, on the issue of women, I find it  interesting that there's a dearth of women in educational technology leadership positions, given that the field of education is composed mostly of females. Feel free to jump in and correct me if I am wrong... again, my thoughts are not based on specific, conclusive research, but observations rather.

And, as a person who reads others' blogs and attends a fair amount of professional development events, I also admit to being tired of the same spiels generated by many ed tech speakers. Their messages are important, and I suspect there are still a lot of people who need to be called to action, so their work is not done. However, I really would like to discover some new and exciting ed tech voices, or at least hear some fresh and innovative ideas. Who are the ed tech leaders who are really mixing things ups, who are truly thinking outside of the box, who are truly brilliant? Edutopia has an annual feature called the Daring Dozen which provides a good place to start and its focus is on education in general. If you were to compose a Daring Dozen list for the field of educational technology solely, who would be on it? 

While I am in a critical mode, I also might add that I most admire ed tech leaders who are still working with kids. Staying close to the classroom adds a tad more credibility in my eyes to the messages carried by ed tech leaders. It's not a prerequisite, but I guess I have more respect for those who have not completely given in to hustling for their next speaking gig. I suppose I should keep this mind myself, as I probably will look to do more consulting work in the future.

Tim ends his post with a great line which cracked me up with the Dionne Warwick reference:

We need the David Warlicks of the world. But we also need Jose Warlicks, and a Jane Warlicks, and Dionne Warlicks. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun.) We need Wes Fryer at age 45, but we also need Wes Fryer age 25, and 35.

Big News!

Well, today I did something that I did not think I would do for a very long time. I resigned from the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools in order to take a new position still within the university environment. Starting July 2, I will be working at the University of Chicago Center for Urban School Improvement as a lead technology coach. I'll be working for fellow ADE Nichole Pinkard, and my new job will entail helping students and teachers with technology integration efforts at the Center's North Kenwood/Oakland Charter School 2.5 days a week. The other part of my time will be allocated to developing and implementing a technology professional development plan for the Center's four charter schools and potentially other affiliated charters. Additionally, I will have some flexibility to do consulting work on the side. I'm very excited about this opportunity, but also a bit sad because I really do love my current job and will miss my colleagues and students. I just think it's time that I expanded my skill set in terms of leadership and managerial skills, and I am going to learn so much about other facets of education while working at the Center. I'm really grateful for all the opportunities that have come my way while at Lab, and I'm looking forward to sharing my knowledge and experience with others. Wish me luck!

NECC 2007 Workshop Resources

Excuse multiple crossposts -

Julene Reed and I are teaching a workshop at NECC on global collaboration, and I've set up a series of resources to demonstrate during this class. I hope that these resources will live on as people become interested in sharing resources used to teach global awareness concepts. Please consider jumping in and joining any of these groups. Some of them are already seeded with material, but others are just getting started. Feel free to pass this info on to anyone you know that also might be interested.

If you are presenting on a simliar topic at NECC, please think about "crosspollinating" material in these spaces as well.

1) Global Education Ning group

2) Global Education Flickr group

3) Global Ed Google Group

4) Global Education Collaborative Wikispace

5) I'm tagging any resources I bookmark with the tag globalawareness in Furl and in

6) Google Calendar for Global Education - enter your NECC global awareness events here, for instance.

If you think of other similar resources we should include, please send me suggestions.  Thanks!!!

Friday 5: Best of the 2007 Webby Awards

Hi All -

The Webby Awards were recently announced, and here are a few of my favorite sites culled from the long list of nominees and winners. Check out the entire list here if you would like more!


Lucy Gray



This site has a great search tool: One feature includes searching for poetry-related images within the foundation's Flickr groups.

2) Best Stuff in the World

#2 and #3 on this week's list fall under the category of social networks, sites that revolve around user generated content. Best Stuff in the World has people rate and compare anything and everything.

3) - The Social Music Revolution

Listen to and buy music here at this site.

4) The Gapminder World 2006

I think I've mentioned this site in a previous Friday 5, but it's worth another mention. This site uses graphics to represent data in interesting ways.

5) Smithsonian Photography Initiative

This site has search capabilities which allow one to easily browse photos, create a personalized collection, and share it with others.

Friday 5: Will Richardson Workshop

Friday 5: Best of Will Richardson

Hi All -

On Friday and Saturday, teachers and administrators from several area independent schools gathered at the Francis Parker School here in Chicago to learn from classroom blogging guru, Will Richardson. Will is a former high school teacher and early adopter of Web 2.0 technologies, now consulting in school districts across the country. His blog, Weblogg-ed, is widely read by many educators. All in all, it was a productive and enlightening workshop; this week's list represents a handful of sites that were discussed.

Take care,

Lucy Gray


1) Gcast

Gcast is a podcast hosting service. Users can make recordings via phone amongst many other features.

2) Wikinomics

This is the accompanying web site to a popular book written by Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams. Will recommended this business book as its message apparently has potential implications for education. Interestingly, the web site includes a blog and a wiki where community members are authoring additional chapters of the book.

3) Remote Access blog by Clarence Fisher

Will referenced Clarence's work several times during the workshop. There's an interesting graphic on emerging technologies and services included in Clarence's May 5 post.

4) 21Classes

Will consulted on this student-friendly blogging service.

5) A Web of Connections: Why the Read/Write Web Changes Everything

Will relies on wikis for presentations nowadays, not slideware.

While browsing sites during the workshop, I found two others worth sharing that were not directly a part of the workshop:

6) Using Google Earth for Earth Science and Remote Sensing

7) Celebration of Teaching and Learning: Multimedia Resources from Thirteen/WNET and WLIW

This conference had a great line-up of speakers. For those of us unable to attend in person, videos of several presentations are online for viewing.

The Global Education Collaborative

Link: The Global Education Collaborative.

Excuse the multiple cross-postings on various listservs etc....

Please consider joining a Ning community on global education:

At the National Educational Computing Conference to be held in Atlanta, Georgia this June, fellow Apple Distinguished Educator Julene Reed and I will be hosting a workshop on global collaboration. I plan on utilizing a variety of tools and resources throughout this hands-on class, including Ning, a service that allows one to establish a custom social networking site. I am hoping to seed this site with people and content in preparation for this workshop, and I would like to invite anyone to jump in and participate.

I've made a few prior attempts at creating an online meeting space for those interested in global collaboration which included the establishment of a .Mac group and a blog. While I still plan on posting to these resources, I think this environment might be more inviting because it allows for the posting of photos, videos, and RSS feeds. Users can make their own custom personal pages, contribute to discussion forums, network with other like-minded individuals, and comment on these features. I've been inspired by the success of Steve Hargadon's Classroom 2.0 and School 2.0 Ning communities, particularly by the forum conversations in the Classroom 2.0 one.

I also hope that this will also serve as a hub for anyone who will be presenting at conferences on various global education topics. Please consider uploading any relevant files including presentation slides. You can upload slides to sites such as SlideShare and Scribd, which I think, will give you the html code to embed videos in a Ning community. If you need help with any of this, just let me know.. it's pretty easy. Of course, you can probably also save slideshows as Quicktime files and upload them directly, too.

Please let me know if you have any questions...

Continue reading "The Global Education Collaborative" »

Friday 5: Using Chat and Instant Messaging in the Classroom

My students have found me online. I haven't decided if this is a good thing, or not, quite yet, but it definitely has me to thinking about using chat and instant messaging to communicate with students.

In my sixth grade computer science class, our discussion about instant messaging started when a student asked me about my user name for a class wiki project. I explained that I use the same user name (elemenous) for all my accounts, including the AOL Instant Messaging service (AIM), and my students perked up immediately. They were surprised that a teacher, of all people, actually used AIM, and I bet one class that many more teachers use an instant messaging service than they realized. I also explained that I use chat regularly to communicate with other teachers around the world, and that it's been wonderful tool for exchanging files and learning from other educators.

So, since this discussion, the number of kids instant messaging me after school has jumped from 1 kid last week to about 8 kids last night. I think I had 4 different chat windows open on my computer, and it was difficult for me to multitask. I noticed that the conversations are markedly different than the ones I have with adults. When I chat with an adult, I usually am pinging them for a specific reason such as tech help or to share a resource. With kids, however, it seems as if they are sort aimlessly IMing each other and me. This is a social tool for them, and they must be chatting with lots of other people because often our conversations go dead as if they were busy elsewhere. Sixth graders, IMHO, have not learned the fine art of  carrying on an online conversation. Interestingly enough, though, one of my students told me that most of the grade-level "drama" happens within instant messaging conversations after school. One kid said he's learned to hit certain keys to quit IMing quickly when his mother approaches as he's not supposed to be online during homework time. Another kid said his mother took away his keyboard because she thought his computer habits were too distracting for him. (I'm making a mental note of this tactic for when my children hit middle school.) It's fascinating to see how important this tool has become to kids; I feel like I've been let into the club a bit as they have been reaching out to me via IMing.

Generally, I think using instant messaging and chat rooms in the context of learning is not something most teachers want to incorporate into their curricula; it's a matter of digital natives versus digital immigrants. We immigrants have been slow to realize that this tool is wildly popular amongst adolescents, and that if we frame its use properly, chatting via instant messaging or inchat rooms might actually empower learning. So this week, I've compiled a slew of related articles that might help you understand this phenomenon.

Take care and have a great weekend,

Lucy Gray

1)   Strategies For Using Chat
Academic Distance Learning Center, Webster University, Saint Louis, Missouri

2)    Let's Chat: Chat Rooms in Elementary School

3)   Educause | Resources | Resource Center Abstract

4)   PC World - Internet Tips: A Grown-Up's Guide to Instant Messaging

5)   Moving at the Speed of Creativity>Blog Archive> The Case for Instant Messaging in the Classroom

6)   Experimental College at Tufts | Instant Messaging: R U Online! RU? | By Robert Farmer

7)     Spiral Notebook > IM in the Mood for Chat

8)     Apple - Education - iChat AV and iSight in the Classroom: Lesson Plans

9)     iChatCollaboration.pdf from Goochland County Public Schools

Friday 5: Green Friday

Everywhere you turn, green is in the limelight. Thomas Friedman, of the New York Times and A World is Flat fame, has authored a new green article for the NYT Sunday Magazine, Vanity Fair has devoted its entire April issue to environmental topics, and my local papers, the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times, both have turned out several articles that have caught my attention. Is this a fad or are people really getting serious about our environment? Only time will tell, but I am certainly more interested in learning about what I can personally do to make this world a better place. This week's list consists of sites that I've found in my online explorations... a little late for Earth Day, but I suppose every day is Earth Day now.

Take care,

Lucy Gray


1. The Power of Green | Thomas L. Friedman | New York Times
(may have to register to read this article)

2. Living the Dream | Chicago Sun-Times
The Sun-Times is running a series on the green movement; check out this article and others to discover a variety of resources.

3. Making It a Green Sweep This Spring | Chicago Tribune

4. The Green Guide

5. Monterey Bay Aquarium: Seafood Watch Program - A Consumer's Guide to Sustainable Seafood.

6. Treehugger

7. North American Association for Environmental Education: Student Programs
    and Choice Picks for Teachers

8. EEK! Environmental Education for Kids

9. National Environmental Education Week

10. The EnviroLink Network

11. Sustainlane

12. Grist: Environmental News and Humor

The Friday 5 Search Engine

I've made a customized Google search engine using sites I commonly use when compiling Friday 5 lists. It's now listed on the left-hand side of my blog along with a box that allows people to subscribe to the Friday 5 in Google Groups. If you ask to contribute to this search engine, you can add relevant sites. It is also possible to add the search engine to your blog, homepage, or Google start page.

I can see teachers using Google Co-Op to make customized engines for various units of study. I think it's a pretty handy way to direct students research instead of just letting them loose on the Internet.

Sylvia Martinez « Ed Tech Journeys

Link: Sylvia Martinez « Ed Tech Journeys. I've been tagged! I discovered this as I browsed my Technorati feeds stored in my news reader this evening. Funny that Sylvia Martinez of GenYES named me in her own meme entry... It's a small blogosphere as I just noticed this new equivalent of an internet chain letter while browsing Henry Jenkin's blog today.  FYI, the original post was created on March 7 by an Australian life coach.

Here are my responses....whether or not I am really that successful remains to be seen, but I'll give this a go.

Things I Do Almost Every Day to Be Successful

1) Read newspapers. I skim the Chicago Sun-Times, and sometimes the Chicago Tribune as I eat breakfast. I never thought I would prefer the Sun-Times over the Trib, but that's they way it's been recently.

2) Track blogs and news sources in my news reader. I use NetNewWire as my main news reader to track about 500 different feeds. Obviously, I don't have time to thoroughly read all of these, but I do scan my favorites every day. I usually do this while I am eating lunch at my desk. I also have a few email news alerts set up. For instance, I get breaking news alerts from CNN and I have a Google News alert set up to send me mentions of the Infinite Thinking Machine.

3) I learn from and respond to others in some way. I participate fairly actively in online communities for Apple Distinguished Educators and Google Certified Educators in addition to maintaining my own blog and contributing to the Infinite Thinking Machine.

4) I bookmark useful and interesting web sites. I use both Furl and I am starting to like more and more every day. I'm intrigued by the social aspects of these services, and I learn a lot from the bookmarking habits of other people in my network. My username in most of the social networking sites I use is elemenous, by the way.

5) I read magazines. I love magazines, and my husband is highly annoyed by the piles I seem to accumulate. My favorites are Fast Company, Vanity Fair, National Geographic Traveler, Real Simple, and Wired. I don't always read them cover to cover, but I do get a lot of ideas from most of these magazines.

6) I try to read something for pleasure every night before bed. My reading rate hasn't been fabulous recently, which is frustrating to me. I think I just need to get into the right book. I'm about 3/4ths the way through the Green Mile right now, and I'm pretty into it. I also like to read biographies, and my next book to read is Anthony Boudrain's No Reservations.

7) Make lists. I usually use stickies on my Dashboard, Google Notebook, or to do lists in iCal.  Sometimes I need a list of things I must do in order to stay focused.

8) I take a lot of pictures and spend time organizing them. I love my Nikon D50, iPhoto, and Flickr!  It's important to me to catalog my family's life.

9) I record a few television programs I don't want to miss. I record a local news program called Chicago Tonight, but usually only watch the Friday news round up edition. I also TiVo Oprah, Inside the Actor's Studio, Entourage, and Grey's Anatomy. I know Sylvia is a Grey's fan too... she didn't mention that program in her post!

0) My family hits the health club just about every Saturday night. We all go out to dinner and to our health club on Saturday evenings. I usually get a workout in and then we all swim for about an hour. I should work out more, and my health club is open 24 hours, but I am not that much of a maniac. 

Okay, now for the fun part... I'm tagging Larry Anderson, Christian Long, Tim Lauer, Westley Field, Kathy Schrock, Rae Niles, Lisa Harrison, Lucie delaBruere and my long shot response ... David Pogue.  How he accomplishes as much as he has is beyond me and I'd be curious to hear about his work habits. Anyway, it will be fun to see if the aforementioned people find this and share their secrets. Don't forget to check out the original post for instructions!