Posts categorized "Teachers" Feed

#CUEROCKSTAR Global PBL Resources

Hi All -

Anyone, including those not present in my workshops today, are welcome to join my Edmodo group, Project-Based Learning with a Global Focus. Use this link to join and I'll approve your membership:

Make sure to check out the four tabs of global learning resources that I've compiled in this Google sheet. Feel free to add any additional resources that you think are valuable. This is not an exhaustive list; I'll be adding to this frequently.



Lucy's Resources for the MLTI Summer Institute

Looking forward to inspiring Maine educators today! Find all my files here!

Feel free to download the Keynote file or PDFs and explore the plethora of links. Slides and accompanying notes include many resources.

If you are interested in my YouTube workshop, please join our Edmodo group to access the resource

Let's connect on Twitter. My Twitter handle is @elemenous.



A Plethora of PD Opportunities

After years of attending and presenting at conferences, I'm still seeking a solution for keeping track of upcoming events and other professional development opportunities. Inspired by my innovative friend Karen Blumberg and her PD Google calendar which is somewhat focused on NYC events, I decided to create and maintain one of my own that includes a wide variety of opportunities happening around the world.

I copied some events from Karen's calendar and added others from the sources below. As new events pop up on my horizon, I've been adding them as well. If you would like to suggest an event, submit a professional development opportunity and/or conference deadline using my YouCanBookMe form.

Other sources of information for this calendar include:

    1. EdSurge’s Your Passport to 2016 Edtech Conferences
    2. EdSurge’s Educational Technology Events
    3. Karen Blumberg’s PD Calendar
    4. The Education Calendar
    5. ISTE Affiliate Directory

If you are a Google Calendar user, add this calendar to your other calendars by clicking on the Google Calendar button in the lower  righthand corner of my calendar embedded below. By layering various calendar in your Google Calendar setup, you'll be able to compare your availability to events listed on my PD calendar. Also, you can copy individual events from my calendar to your personal calendar. Click on a single event, and then the option that says "copy to my calendar". 

Link to the calendar below.

Modern Educators As Curators of Information

In this digital age, a vast array of information is at our fingertips via technology. We can instantaneously find news articles, research, videos, photos on every topic imaginable and beyond. A conundrum exists for these consumers of knowledge…while access to information is empowering, it is also potentially overwhelming, and thus people need to learn how to manage this content. No wonder Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

On a professional level, educators need a plan for managing teaching resources so that information is organized and accessible for themselves and their students. Modern educators acknowledge that information can be looked up at a moment’s notice and as a result, many believe that the rote memorization of facts and figures is becoming less of an important skill in today’s schools. Students need more time and guidance developing essential critical thinking skills, some specifically related to this digital age, including to the ability to search effectively, organize resources, distill this information and synthesize this content to produce new insights and materials. This is not your father’s Oldsmobile; 21st-century schools and teachers are shifting approaches to better meet the needs of their learners. No longer are teachers serving as “sages on stages”, but rather as “guides on the side”, giving students the tools and strategies needed to be successful in a rapidly changing world.

Within the educational technology industry, companies have been grappling with the problem of helping teachers organize and deliver materials to students. Teachers should experiment with a resulting plethora of tools and learning management systems in order to find the best fit for their instructional needs. When dabbling with these tools, teachers should carefully consider features and benefits for themselves and their students.

Some questions to think about:

  • What tools and platforms are essential to a modern teacher’s workflow?
  • How does a teacher locate, evaluate and keep track of high-quality teaching resources and primary source materials on the internet?
  • What’s the best method to organize these materials and maintain an easy to access system?
  • How can the process of content curation be made more efficient?
  • What tools allow teachers to collaborate with students and/or colleagues?

One website that teachers may want to try out is Participate Learning. Formerly known as Appolearning, this Chicago-based startup recently went through a re-branding process, adding some new and unique features. The Participate Learning platform contains a database of educational content that includes websites, videos, and linkable documents. Much of this content is vetted and tagged by regular contributing education experts; the Participate Learning community at large can also contribute to this database. It is searchable by grade level, subject area, and Common Core standards.

Once teachers find useful content within Participate Learning, these assets can be organized into collections. These collections can be made public to benefit others or be kept private; it is also possible to use and re-purpose the public collections of other Participate Learning users. New to collections is the ability to invite others to a collection to co-curate and privately discuss content. Here’s an overview:


Another new feature within Participate Learning is the ability to bookmark resources while conducting research on the internet. For instance, say you are surfing with the goal of finding primary resources for a lesson related to the Civil Rights Movement, you can use the Participate Learning Bookmarks Chrome extension to save resources directly to your Participate Learning account. Then, you can quickly organize these bookmarked links into collections. Here’s an explanation of how to accomplish this; you must be using Google’s Chrome web browser and the Participate Learning Bookmarks extension.


The last new feature in the Participate Learning makes this a platform that stands out from other social bookmarking options for educators; it is truly unique and useful. Participate Chats for Twitter allows you to select a predetermined Twitter chat hashtag, view and save a transcript from this chat, and curate resources referenced during the course of the Twitter chat. You can also directly participate in a Twitter chat right from the Participate Learning interface. Learn how to leverage Participate Chats here:


This is a much better solution than trying to keep up with fast-paced Twitter chats using clients such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, and the Twitter interface itself. And, there is no other tool that lets one grab resources cited in a Twitter chat exactly like this. With Participate Chats, you can save individual resources from a chat or you can harvest all links mentioned during a designated period of time and put it into a collection. Read more about the logic behind Participate Chats in this article by Participate Learning CEOAlan Warms.

No other social bookmarking solution has this Twitter chat integration and this feature makes Participate Learning particularly exciting to use. Prior to the introduction of Participate Learning, there have been few curation options specifically designed for educators. There are other social bookmarking options out there, but these have not necessarily been developed with educators in mind or improved with educators’ input and feedback. Keep an eye on the Participate Learning platform as its community grows and new features are added to further benefit students and teachers.

This is a Remind Reminder!

This is a reminder to try using the Remind app! This seemingly simple, free tool can transform your classroom or organization. 

In early 2012, I was introduced to Remind co-founder Brett Kopf as I was leading CoSN's mobile learning initiative at the time.  At the time, I was intrigued by his story and impressed that a local Chicagoan had gone on to make his mark on the world. 

If you're not familiar with Remind, it is an immensely popular communications platform for educators. I encourage you to sign up on the web for it or download the app for iOS or Android. Experiment with it from the teacher perspective (creator of a class) and the student perspective (person receiving messages). Remind is currently being used by 1 out of 5 U.S educators and it is a safe, simple and secure method for educators to communicate with families and students over the age of 13. From the web, you can schedule announcements and add attachments; on the app, you can also attach photos and voice memos. Recently, Remind announced that multi-owner groups a great feature for co-teachers; translation in six languages another feature being rolled out this fall.

Since August, I've been contracted to conduct educator outreach with Remind in the state of Illinois. This means that I'm available to meet with anyone interested in using this tool through the end of October 2015 and can provide no-cost training to teachers, administrators, coaches, parent groups, after school programs,  childcare workers and park district employees who are curious about using this tool to improve home/school communications. I'm willing to work with you and your colleagues to find the best method for supporting users in your school, district or organization. Email me at if I can be of help! 

During the last couple of months, I've been very impressed with Remind Connected Educators, a group of Remind power users, who continually demonstrate creative ways to use Remind. Many of their ideas are inspirational and would have never occurred to me. These teachers have gone beyond using Remind for basic class announcements and homework reminders. Recently, we held a Twitter chat on this topic, and you can see some of these ideas on this tagboard. I love how teachers are using Remind to send celebratory shoutouts to kids and parents, to communicate with families on field trips and student travel excursions, to participate in Twitter chats and even to engage students in class scavenger hunts. Administrators are also finding Remind to be invaluable for sending resources and morale boosters to faculty and for hosting "Asking Me Anything" chats for their school communities via Remind. 

I've been using Remind to share innovation resources and global education links on a daily basis. You are welcome to join either group, and you can see them embedded at the bottom of this blog post. 

  • To join my Illinois Ed Tech Innovator class, follow this link or text @iledtech to 81010.
  • To join my Global Education News class, follow this link or text @gecnews to 81010.

Here are some links to get started and I hope that you'll experiment with Remind and share potential uses on Twitter with the hashtag #RCEchat. 


Technology for Teaching and Learning Conference #KCDTTL

Welcome, #KCDTTL attendees! Here are resources cited in my talks at Kentucky Country Day's Technology for Teaching and Learning Conference. Please free free to download and browse any of these resources.

  1. Introductions Padlet
  2. Connecting to the World handout on Tackk
  3. Share Global Resources Padlet
  4. Exploring Instructional Uses of YouTube on Tackk
  5. Exploring Instructional Uses of YouTube Slides and below
  6. Slide decks for both global sessions can be downloaded in PDF or Keynote formats from


Resources for Summer Spark! #usmspark

I'll be at the University School of Milwaukee's Summer Spark conference tomorrow! I'll be leading three sessions on how to get involved with the Global Education Conference, globally infused PBL and leveraging YouTube for instructional purposes. 

I've uploaded my Keynote files and PDFs of these presentations to and you can download them below or by clicking this link.  Also, my Exploring Instructional Uses of YouTube can be found here. 

For my global sessions, also check out my Evernote notebook of global resources, my apps list on Appolearning, and materials from a previous workshop. We will also be using this padlet to list projects and resources. Anyone is welcome to contribute to this. 

Please let me know if you have any questions! 


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! 

4th or 5th Grade Collaboration Opportunities - Mystery Location Calls and Virtual LitCircles

Fourth and Fifth Grade Teacher Friends - 

I've been coaching teachers at Falconer School in Chicago for the past two years as part of a pilot project through Kajeet and funded by Qualcomm's Wireless Reach initiative.  I conduct professional development with these teachers about once a month, and towards the end of the year, I typically help out with projects in classrooms. 

Four classrooms (three currently) for the past three years have been given Android tablets to use as personal learning devices. The teachers in these classrooms have embraced educational technology, trying out various tools and growing their professional learning networks. These devices are enabled with filtered 4G connectivity through Kajeet and the students are allowed to take these devices home. It has been a great project; it has been a privilege and honor to work with the students and teachers involved.

We're in the process of thinking about culminating activities for this school year, and are seeking other classrooms for a couple of projects. Here they are:

  • We would like to start holding weekly mystery location calls with other classrooms and perhaps track our calls through a Google Map. The Falconer teachers are open to using Skype or Google Hangouts. We would prefer to do this with other fifth-grade classrooms, but we are flexible.
  • The students are reading two books starting in mid-May that could lend themselves to virtual literature circles in Edmodo. We would set up groups for each class, you would have your students join these groups, and teachers would post discussion questions and other activities for each class to do and share. We've done this in the past with two of Grace Lin's books, and it's particularly worked well when each teacher takes responsibility for posting lessons for a week at a time.  Since these book groups are taking place at the end of the year, we could get creative with other supplemental activities. We are planning on starting Bud Not Buddy in mid-May. Maniac Magee would be the last book covered during the last two weeks in June (Chicago Public Schools gets out fairly late, probably due to snow days.) Fourth, fifth or sixth grades with fairly good access to technology devices would be ideal. The type of device used by another school is not an issue; we'll use tools that are not platform specific.  Ideally, we'd like to hold a planning meeting with interested teachers before any of these units are taught, too. 

For more info about what this fifth grade team has been up to, check out  teacher Tasia Pena's Weebly site, her class Kidblog, and her Twitter feed.  Another teacher Jackeline Rivera also posted this Weebly site as well. 

If you'd like to work with us, email me at elemenous at gmail dot com or send me a tweet at @elemenous! Looking forward to finding new friends for my fifth grade team! 

My Evernote Notebooks with Links to IB Materials and Edtech Resources

I've been collecting materials for an International Baccalaureate school that I've been working with for the past year. Below you'll find links to IB resources as well as subject-specific and ed tech  sites that may be of interest to educators. Some notebooks have more materials than others; I'll be adding to these collections during the next couple of months. If you have suggestions of other blogs, articles, and web sites that I should add,  let me know!

Also, here is a list of IB people and schools on Twitter and my IB tagged links in Diigo!

One More Day! Need Your Support to Facilitate a Workshop at #SxSWedu !

The public is invited to participate in SxSWedu's panel picker, the method for which workshops and sessions are chosen for next March's conference. Julene Reed, Michelle Bourgeois and I have proposed a hands-on workshop show participants how to leverage and organize the treasure trove of free digital content available in Apple's iTunes U. We believe that more educators and industry folks need to experience this high quality repository and that this free content can really benefit students. 

If you have a moment today, please vote for us and invite your colleagues to do so as well. We'd appreciate any comments, including feedback, as well. Here's the link to where you can vote: If you also want to vote on other high quality presentations, please check out these others from my Apple Distinguished Educator colleagues. 

Follow Lucy's board #SxSWedu Proposals Worthy of Your Support on Pinterest.

Two Quick Announcements

Two fun things to share today (and a third is coming sometime this week...)!

First, I'm the new ed tech expert at which means I'm writing periodically for a sub-section of their Education section. I'll be contributing news, reviews, and advice around the best stuff in ed tech as well as profiling ed tech leaders you should know. Very excited to finally get this launched!

Secondly, Julene Reed, Michelle Bougeosis and I have a proposal submitted to the panel picker for the South by Southwest Education conference (SxSWedu). Sessions are chosen in a crowd sourced manner; we need friends and colleagues to vote on our proposal in order for the workshop to be accepted at this really interesting and innovative conference. 

Our workshop proposal focuses on leveraging iTunes U in classrooms and we'd like to introduce people to the wonders of iBooks Author and iTunes Course Manager as well. Here is where you can vote and comment on our proposal... comments can be endorsements of our work or could be suggestions for improving our proposal. Also, if you haven't previously attended this conference, put t on your list of must attend events... it's very different and full of great learning experiences that will particularly challenge the more experienced educator. 



Compiling High Quality Resources Related to SPED and Accessibility

I'm currently working on a project involving  a school that specializes in working with kids who have dyslexia. My goal is to provide them with a list of high quality resources related to special education and ed tech. This list is not intended to be comprehensive as I think that might be a bit overwhelming for a school that is just attempting to realize the full potential of ed tech in their classrooms.

Right now, I'm particularly interested in the following:

  • Accessibility features and tips/tricks for Macs, iPads and Chromebooks 
  • Case studies or articles that tell stories of how ed tech benefits special needs students, particularly those with dyslexia
  • Names and Twitter IDs of thought leaders and practitioners in related fields to special education (would be great to find a couple of Twitter lists [see an example] as these lists make it easy to follow a bunch of people at once)
  • Names of organizations that provide resources and information around special education

Here is the link to the multi-tabbed Google Spreadsheet that I've started; it is completely open and editable by anyone, so feel free to add anything that you think is outstanding. Look at the bottom of the spreadsheet to see the different categories by tab. 

If you want to leave your name and/or Twitter handle for others to follow you, feel free to do so on the contributors tab.  You are also welcome to refer to this list and copy it to your own Drive if you'd like to use this for future reference. 

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:

Quick #ICE14 Debrief
items in ICE Conference - Illinois Computing Educators More in ICE Conference - Illinois Computing Educators pool

Random thoughts about the 2014 Illinois Computing Educators Conference (before they seep from my brain)....

1. George Couros and Mike Muir were the perfect one-two punch as keynotes. Witty, inspirational, humorous presentations by both! Catch recordings of keynote and other sessions here:

2. Very grateful to spend time with Mike, tapping his brain about all things ed tech and Maine. Once again, I'm reminded that Maine's experiences with 1 to 1 should really be examined by all school districts in this day and age. I'm really looking forward to diving into Mike's materials on various sites as I contemplate some of the projects I'm working on.

3. All of our featured speakers were fabulous... thank you, Rich Colosi, Carolyn Skibba, Jason Markey, Teri Olson Rossman, Greg Tang, Tammy Worcester Tang, and Luis Perez. Also, huge thanks to BYOC speakers including Steve Dembo... always a hit with attendees.

4. I think it was very interesting to have someone featured at ICE that was a content expert first and foremost (Greg Tang). We should try and get similar people next year. Can't wait to try out his app and games with my fifth grader.

5. Tammy Lind's spirit was particularly infectious. She gets the term I coin professional generosity. She did a lovely job of keeping things simple and clear, yet informative, for her audiences. Loved how as I trudged to my car after the closing ceremonies, she was sitting in the hotel lounge with a circle of attendees around her, still sharing ideas. Everyone else was long gone and they were all still drinking it up.

6. Jason Markey also impressed me with his youthful energy. I think he sleeps less than I do and is remarkably perky. No wonder he's a principal! Also, loved seeing his kids in action during one of his sessions.

7. Happy to see former colleagues and my current coaching friends from Falconer and D230 get excited about various things at the conference. Next year, all of these people should take the plunge and present at ICE! It's time!

8. Also in the friend department, I'm grateful for another ADE get together at ICE. Just love my original PLC people.

9. Next year, we need to have a Fitbit contest and find out logs the most miles. I think I made my goal every day walking all over Pheasant Run. My trainer will be happy.

10. The newly configured exhibit hall was such a hit! The PLN Plaza was the hub of activity and the presentation stage featured a variety of presentations. Kudos to Jennifer Misong Magiera and assorted others who made much of that happen.

11. The Wednesday evening reception in the exhibit hall plus the morning breakfasts held in the same area really drew people. The exhibit hall seemed to come alive this year.

12. Wish I had had more time to partake in EdCamp After Dark. I think it was a huge success, judging from the turnout and notes. Loved how this was free and open to anyone who was around Wednesday night.

13. A HUGE thank you goes out to my fellow ICE conference committee members. It was a joy seeing everyone spring into action with their various conference duties. I'm continually inspired by the quality of my committee colleagues' work and have particularly enjoyed working with all of you this year.

Executive Director Margaret Johnson is the ICE-ing (pun intended) on the cake... I think her leadership makes us all want to go above and beyond the call to make the ICE conference a great experience for attendees.

14. Thank you again to the ICE people involved with my selection this year for the Making IT Happen award. I was pleasantly stunned when Charlene Chausis informed me of this award in January and I think this is the first time I've been honored by colleagues for my work in advocating for educational technology. There is nothing like being pointed out for doing good when you are least expecting it and I deeply appreciate the recognition. I stand on the shoulders of giants who've come before me throughout my involvement with ICE... more on this later.

15. Finally, we have a great thing going here in Illinois. So many talented, innovative educators and more catching fire with every conference. Can't wait to see how ICE can push the envelope further in terms of empowering teachers in the years to come!

Hope everyone got home safe and sound! See you next year!

#METC13 Presentations


Please download my slides and/or PDF copies of slides from or view them on Slideshare. Let me know if you have any questions or comments!



Download ModernizingEducation_METC

Download METC_Search

Download METC_Multimedia_2013

Download METC_Global


Wes Fryer: A One Man Blogging Machine at #blackfootetc


Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to keynote Blackfoot Telecommunications Group's Educational Technology Conference in Missoula, Montana, a place that I previously have not had the opportunity to visit.  I received this invitation,  thanks to Wesley Fryer who has been involved with this conference for the past couple of years.  

Montanan educators were attentive and interested in educational technology, and seemed dedicated and thoughtful about their craft. Most surprisingly to me, many of these teachers work in tiny schools, often with 15-20 student maximum, and are responsbile for teaching everything to their students. As a result, it seems that it's more difficult for students to slip through the cracks and I'm guessing that teachers have to be pretty accountable for making things work in these situations, too. I loved hearing about these teaching scenarios as my perspective was broadened in terms of what students and teachers across America, even in rural areas, are experiencing. It also made me think more about the idea of making "highly qualified" teachers available to all students. Here in the suburbs of Chicago, we take it for granted that our kids will have a Mandarin teacher or a Calculus teacher, but what happens in remote areas of our country where it might not be possible to recruit great teachers in these subject areas? Students in states with widely dispersed populations are going to definitely benefit from increased online opportunities, and this is another reason not to ingore the trend of virtual instruction.

Speaking of online instruction, Wesley introduced me to Jason Neiffer, curriculum director of the Montana Digital Academy, and Mike Agostinelli of Helena Public Schools. This duo gave a few compelling presentations (see Wesley's links below) and had dinner with us one night. Our conversations gave me further insight into Montana, and we started brainstorming ideas for a ed tech wilderness experience/retreat for similarly minded school leaders. Stay tuned to see if we go anywhere with this idea!

Mostly importantly, besides being my first visit to Montana, it also was my first experience working closely with Wes, and I'm happy to report that the entire experience really fun and enriching. If you've never gotten the Wes Fryer treatment during a conference, you are particularly missing out. He is one of the few people I know who still has the time and inclination to take detailed notes during events. The best part is that he posts these online almost immediately, and includes relevant links and recordings. As someone who gets nervous about being scrutnized professionally, I found Wes's blogging to be enormously helpful as he does this in the least judgemental way, and his posts help me determined if I covered salient points. Below are some of what he covered at the Blackfoot ETC and I think this is a tremendously valuable service. Additionally, Wesley also did one of the best keynotes I've seen him do over the past few years... he has really evolved and improved as a keynote speaker. So, this is an unsolicited plug for Wes in terms of the education conference circuit... I think he'd be invaluable for his speaking skills and for participating in the conference experience along with attendees. 

Check out some of the highlights of the Blackfoot Educational Technology Conference, courtsey of Wesley Fryer:

Wes's Professional Wiki

Educational Podcasts from Blackfoot ETC

Using Social Media to Improve Classroom and School Communications

Exploring Instructional Uses of YouTube (my session)

Mobile E-Book Options

Digital Textbooks Using iBooks

30 in 60: 30 Tools for Tech Savvy Teachers

Getting Your Game On

Beyond Search ( my session)

Mobilizing Learning

My Flickr Photos of the Blackfoot ETC

The Cornerstone Schools - Modernizing Education

Here are my slides and web site to accompany the presentation I gave on March 16th at the wonderful Cornerstone Schools in Detroit, Michigan. What an amazing faculty making a difference in the lives of Detroit kids and what a beautiful building! I hope that this presentation provided food for thought as they think about their future. Also, thanks to Chicago Public School's Nicole Zumpano for skyping in chat with the afternoon session attendees!

This presentation was updated and combined with some of my global stuff as it was a lengthy PD session. 

Modernizing Education web site

Modernizing Education
View more presentations from Lucy Gray

Summer Learning Opportunities for Educators

Summer is quickly approaching and it looks like it's going to be a busy one. I'll be presenting at a slew of conferences that may be of High Techpectations readers . Read on for more details!

June 18-20 The Connections Conference at Sidwell Friends, Washington DC

Visit one of the nation's leading independent schools and engage with colleagues during three days of breakout sessions and full day workshops. I'm excited to be presenting at this conference along with colleagues from Educational Collaborators!

June 25 - 27  ISTE 2012, San Diego, CA

Stay tuned about a possible Global Education Conference in person summit! I'll be also conducting a presentation during the conference on Exploring Instructional Uses of YouTube and  Podcasting and Mobile Media Learning and Teaching along with Julene Reed and Larry Anderson. 

June 28 - July 1 The Asia Society's Partnership for Global Learning Conference, Brooklyn, NY

The Asia Society has been on the forefront of global learning for many years, and I'm thrilled to be presenting at PGL12  along with my Global Education Conference co-conspirator, Steve Hargadon. Anne Mirtschin, an Australian educator who has been very active in our online conference, will also be traveling to NYC and I can't wait to meet her in person! 

July 10 -12, iSummit, Atlanta, GA

I'm thrilled to be returning to the Coalition for Lighthouse Schools' annual conference. This is a fabulous event for independent and international schools with 1:1 Apple deployments. C0-chaired by my fellow Apple Distinguished Educator and friend, Julene Reed, this conference is a sure hit!

July 21, SDE Midwest Conference on Differentiated Instruction, Chicago, IL

SDE is one of the nation's premier providers of professional development, and I'll be presenting several sessions that be of interest to educators at their Midwest event.

August 2-5, Blackfoot ETC, Missoula, MT

After a two week sojourn with my family in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, I'll be keynoting this conference for Montana educators. I'll be focusing on mobile learning and can't wait to travel to the West to spread the word about best practices in educational technology.

Hope to connect and learning with many of you at these events! 





Going Global with Apple in the Classroom

I had a ball last night presenting at the Upper Westside Apple Store in Manhattan. It was a bit surreal to walk in the store and see my Bill Frakes photo on a poster (my friends who accompanied me actually tried to see if they'd give me the poster afterwards, but no dice). My focus was on global collaboration and the role of Apple tools in creating your global collaboration toolkit. More will be coming on this topic as I'm part of an ADE group working on an exhibit for iTunes U!

I anticipated the best part of the evening to be demo'ing Facetime and iChat with ADE colleagues around the world. There were concerns about doing these activities over the very busy Apple Store network, so we nixed this plan. However, the work of my colleagues is evident in the presentation; make sure to click on their photos in order to visit their web sites. 

The best part of presenting at the store was the ensuing conversations with audience members who came up to chat afterwards. I met someone who works with accessibility at Apple, a former UN employee who runs a global education foundation, and a slew of other interesting folks. I hope they will keep in touch to continue the global education dialogue. 

Click on underlined text and photos for hyperlinks to additional content. 


Going Global with Apple in the Classroom
View more presentations from Lucy Gray
Download PDF and Keynote slides here:


New Google Custom Search Engines and Handouts

For the upcoming Chicago Tech Forum, this week I developed a handout and a Google Custom Search engine devoted to finding iOS resources. I culled my collections of links related to iPods, iPhones, and iPads to identify the best resources and moving forward, I plan to keep adding to this. The search engine is designed to search most of the web sites listed in the handout, and I'll be adding to this as well. If you're looking for a particular topic related to using these devices in schools, this engine might help you refine your search and higher quality results.

Additionally, I updated my High Techpectations Google Custom Search Engine and created a handout of education starting points. It only searches web sites that I consider to be of high quality.

With both of these search engines feel free either link to their start pages, add them to your iGoogle pages, or embed their codes in your own web sites.

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. 

Presentations from #D219Tech

Below are my slidedecks from District 219's (Niles North and Niles West High Schools in Skokie, IL) technology conference. These topics have been a staple of my repertoire lately, but every time I present, I tweak the slides just a bit. Most of the things I mention are hyperlinked and will lead you directly to the resources. For instance, in the Google preso, the bullets are linked, but I didn't underline them all for esthetic purposes.

Thanks to Guy Ballard and team for a wonderful day. Great to catch up with fellow Illinois educators and to catch David Warlick's fabulous keynote. He paints a picture of current shifts in learning and as always, I'm impressed with his talent for telling the compelling story. I wish every educator and parent in the country had the opportunity to hear him, so that perhaps we all would be more on the same page.

To those who attended my sessions, thanks for your comments and input. Please stay in touch and join the Global Education Collaborative!

ITSC - Beyond Search

Download ITSCsearch

My many, many slides for my Beyond Search presentation tomorrow. I swear this is a hand-on session! Download the presentation from Slideshare or the PDF from Scribd and follow along. Links in these documents should be live.

We also will be creating a search scavenger hunt on this Google Doc. Feel free to add your own items for this.



Beyond Search - ITSC Conference
View more presentations from Lucy Gray.

ITSC Beyond Search

Friday 5: Interactive Sites

Using multimedia in the classroom is one of the suggestions put forth by math teacher Dan Meyer in his TEDxNYED talk from last spring.  I watched the video of his presentation today in preparation for my own talk at this year's TEDxNYED and it's well worth a look by any teacher, not just teachers of math.

If you have other suggestions for interactive web sites, leave them in the comments! Thanks!

1. Interactive Learning Opportunities on the Internet

2. Library of Congress Interactives

3. Spin and Spell

4. Interactivate

5. PhET Interactive Simulations

Friday 5: Literacy

Since reviving the Friday 5, my plan is to start with re-visiting basic content areas with a few links worth exploring. In the past few weeks, I've covered math and science; today's featured topic is literacy.

1. Voice of Literacy

Podcasts by literacy researchers on the implications of their work in classrooms. I think this is a great way to bridge the gap between research and practice and the design of the site makes it very easy to listen and share podcasts. Wouldn't it be fun to have a similar site dedicated to discussing educational technology research?

2. K-2 Writing Interactives

Links to some high quality sites for helping kids with writing.

3. Leading to Read

Activities for early childhood from RIF.

4. Kids on the Net

This is a great site for encouraging kids to write and publish. One activity that looks particular fun is their interactive Monster Motel:

5. Woodlands Literacy Zone

Another site from the UK that contains tons of links for every language arts skill imaginable.

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!




Participate Virtually in My Global Collaboration Workshop!

I'll be facilitating a workshop at the Instructional Technology Strategies Conference in Portland, Oregon on February 21 from 8 AM - 11:30 AM PST.

During this session, participants will be exploring a variety of tools as they think about connecting their classrooms to the world. You can participate, too, in a number of ways. The information in this survey will be shared with workshop participants, but will not be open to all to see. If you want to see the resulting spreadsheet, just let me know and I'll add you to the document. Please consider joining us as I think this will be a fun way to make some new PLN connections!

Here's how to get involved:

1. Sign up to Skype with participants for a few minutes during the workshop. This is an informal opportunity to introduce yourself to another educator and relate how you use Skype professionally.


2. Join our group in the Global Education Collaborative to answer questions asynchronously if participants have questions. (


3. Sign up to mentor a conference participant or to work on a specific project.


Let me know if you have any questions!


Lucy Gray

Simple Communication Tools

Cross-posted at November Learning.

This is a follow up to my blog post at the end of November urging educators to improve communication with their students and their families. I contend that publishing basic class information gives parents a window into your classroom and helps students get digitally organized. It’s now easier than ever as a plethora of tools exist to help people publish without a lot of technical steps. Creating and maintaining a class web site also does not have to be a time consuming chore.

Now that holidays are over and schools are back in session, perhaps now is a good time to explore a few tool recommendations.  The following are a few that are popular with educators; start playing with one tool that appeals to you and see where it leads!

One method of publishing is through bloggling. Blogs are made up of a series of linear posts.  The following blogging tools share many of the same features which include posting by visiting their website, through mobile devices or by emailing posts. They have design templates which are generally customizable and support the embedding of media such as links, photos, and videos. A few to try are:

Many teachers prefer wikis which are easily editable web pages. Wikis tend to provide more flexibility than blogs in terms of design. Most wiki providers give you a choice of templates and allow for the embedding of widgets which provide additional functionality. For instance, if you are a Google Docs user, you can embed documents in a Wikispaces wiki or you could use Google’s own wiki tool, Google Sites, to do the same thing. While you can usually assign multiple authors to a blog to create individual posts, wikis are better suited for collaborative purposes as you can invite others to edit your entire wiki. A few wiki services to try are:

To see how other teachers are using blogs and wikis, browse through the nominations and winners of the 2010 Edublog Awards and through CASTLE’s list of blogs by discipline and wikis.

Keep in mind that Blogger and Google Sites can be used by themselves or within Google Apps Education Edition if your school has adopted this platform. Wikispaces and PBWorks also offer no cost ad-free wikis to educators and Glogster also has a version for educators. Edublogs is also geared towards school audiences. Education versions of Web 2.0 tools usually give you more security options so that students can use them as well.

Edmodo is another tool worth a look and it defies categorization as a blog or wiki. Designed specifically for schools, Edmodo promotes the concept of micro-blogging and teachers can post easily to their Edmodo space on the web or using a mobile device. Calendars, assignments, links, files, and polls can be shared with students. Groups can be created, and educators can also connect to colleagues.

The selected resources mentioned in this blog post were picked for purely their ease of use and my intention was not to create an overwhelming list that might be interpreted as intimidating. However,  if you are interested in trying additional tools, read on.

Via Twitter, I asked other educators for suggestions of simple to use publishing tools and VoiceThreadAnimoto, Wallwisher, and Audioboowere mentioned. Also, Larry Ferlazzo recommends various tools within his great list of his blog posts geared toward tech novices.

If you have any additional tools or strategies that you recommend, share them in the comments of this blog!


One Simple Thing

Cross-posted at November Learning

One thing teachers can do immediately to benefit students is to communicate electronically with students and their families. There are many options for doing so, and depending on how much autonomy you have within your school, you might want to explore a variety of tools to find the best fit for you and your classroom.

As a former teacher and current learning consultant and parent of two school-aged children, my experiences tell me that clear and regular communication with families is really important. This may seem like a no-brainer, but in this day and age, it’s even more essential. Busy families rely on technology, particularly cell phones, for communication, and papers tend to get lost in the household shuffle.

At my house, we appreciate frequent electronic communication because my sixth grader has a mild executive functioning learning disability, meaning that she has difficulty with organization. As Julia begins junior high, I need quick access to her assignments and grades to make sure everything is running smoothly for her. While I hope I am not “a helicopter parent”, I do know that I have to be in tune with her school life. As a typical pre-adolescent, she’s not always forthcoming about such details!

Given that she’s my kid, it’s not particularly surprising that Julia thrives in a digital environment, too. I decided a few weeks ago that I would help Julia get organized electronically as she received an iPhone as a birthday gift. Experimenting with a web-based tool called LiveBinders, I wanted to organize her teachers’ web sites in one place so that she could quickly access course material on her new device. Much to my surprise, only a couple of her teachers had currently updated web sites. One was published, but contained the original Latin placeholder text that comes standard with Apple’s iWeb software. The teacher had yet to fill in sections of her web site with her own content, and Julia thought her teacher’s web site was in Spanish when she saw this!

I’m uncomfortable publicly criticizing schools where my children attend, and I have to say that in all other ways, we are really happy and impressed with Julia’s school. Her teachers are energetic, love teaching, and care about our daughter. I do wonder why more of her teachers aren’t utilizing the web more efficiently to help kids and their families, though. At her previous school, Julia regularly accessed the web site of her world language teacher who posted assignments, handouts, and audio files to support student learning and it made a huge difference in helping Julia learn to help herself.

It’s always been a struggle to get teachers to see the value in communicating with students and families via the web. People don’t have time, don’t see the point, and don’t readily see the benefits for publishing a web page. Some teachers I’ve known believe that posting assignments enables students to not accurately keep their traditional assignment notebooks.

When this issue came up with my daughter’s school, I felt that it was not my place to dictate what teachers should do, and thought perhaps I was missing something about this debate. Thus, I posted the following question to my Facebook page, and trusted friends and acquaintances from all walks of my life responded:

Do you think teachers should keep an updated web page to communicate with parents? Is it really that difficult to post a minimum of information to keep parents (and kids) updated?

The responses varied, but all agreed some sort of communication was essential. One teacher noted that she had less parent phone calls and email because everything was clearly posted on her class website. Another said she kept a blog, and the parents loved it, while a third indicated, “My parents, over the years, have come to depend on updated information available 24/7 as well as a way to connect with other parents.” And another teacher friend wrote, “When my son was in middle school, the teachers posted all the homework assignments to their district web pages each day. It made a HUGE difference to us! My son has ADD and having that information available 24/7 helped keep him on track. Now that he is in HS, there is nothing like that available and I really miss that.” Even a university professor shared how she’s utilizing the web in her courses, “I regularly use email, wikispaces, university course management software, and so on in my classes. I even use blogs to ‘channel’ student questions and discussion. I'm not the world's most creative person, but even I can take advantage of these tools to make my teaching better.”

On the negative side, another friend who’s involved in the PTA at her daughter’s school wrote, “I can't even get my 3rd grader's teacher to answer an e-mail....The teachers in our district were all given websites a few years ago, and were expected to use them. I have yet to see one who does it.....I do the website and e-mail for our PTA, and have been able to track how well we are actually staying in touch. Very few parents check our website; site visits are virtually nonexistent between e-mail messages. In other words, they only go if I remind them, AND usually only for something they really want or need to know. In middle school, parents are expected to get online daily to check on their children. However, there seems to be no expectation that the teachers will update in a timely and accurate way--I am very disappointed in the fact that we've invested so much in technology, and this is the best we can do.” This opens up another can of worms in terms of expected norms and accountability in the use of technology in schools.

Finally, another educator added to our Facebook thread with a creative spin around the student role in communication, “What I do instead is frequently write lengthy newsletters and updates; I'm a familiar name in the parents' email inboxes. I try to give the overall perspective on what's going on, but not details about assignment due dates, etc. (unless it's a really big assignment and parental involvement would be helpful). Every other week or so, I assign my students the task of taking their parents on tours of our class online network. There the parents will see descriptive student essays (blogs) on recent activities, photos, reviews of books, and the like. They'll be able to look at recent conversations the kids and I have been having.” How about this approach for promoting student autonomy!

At any rate, to answer my original question, there really is no right or wrong way to communicate with parents, just as long as teachers do it on a regular and consistent basis. Giving parents a window into the life of your clasroom is beneficial for so many reasons and it doesn’t have to be difficult.

In a follow up post sometime in the next few weeks, I’ll suggest some ways for getting started if you want to go the electronic route. In the meantime, I hope that teachers who are already leveraging blogs, wikis, and other kinds of web spaces will share their sites in the comments in order to inspire others.

My Edublogger Award Nominations!

Edublogger Awards

A few shout outs to people and resources that I admire!

Best Teacher blog: Dolores Gende

Best individual blog:  Always Learning

Best individual tweeter: Karen Blumberg

Best group blog: Bridging Differences

Best resource sharing blog: Box of Tricks

Most influential blog post: We Can't Let Teachers Off the Hook

Best teacher blog: Journey in Technology

Best librarian / library blog: Joyce Valenza's Never Ending Search

Best educational tech support blog: Tech Ease

Best elearning / corporate education blog: Search ReSearch

Best educational use of audio:  Lit2Go

Best educational wiki: TeacherWeb2

Best educational podcast: Lab Out Loud

Best educational webinar series: Classroom 2.0 Live

Best educational use of a social networking: New Media Literacies Community

Lifetime achievement: Steve Haragdon


Presentations for #CECA2010: Connecticut Educators Computer Association Conference

Advice for Beginning Tech Coordinators

I was asked recently by former colleagues to help out a new teacher who has taken on a tech coordinator position at a Chicago charter school. I sketched out a few basic ideas for her in an email, and I thought I'd post it here as well. I wanted to give her some starting points without completely overwhelming her. I'm not sure if this is a tech coaching position focused on tech integration or if she'll be teaching technology skills to students as a prep. Hopefully, it's the former!

What other resources would you suggest? 

1) Start networking with others.
  • Join Illinois Computing Educators, the local affiliate of the International Society for Technology in Education. Their web site is located at This group holds a great annual conference in February in St. Charles, and several small mini-conferences throughout the year that are really good. (If you're not in Illinois, find out about your local ISTE affiliate!)
  • Join Classroom 2.0, a site devoted to helping teachers learn about new and emerging technologies. This is a great place to ask questions and get advice from others. They also host a weekly webinar on Saturday mornings on various topics.
  • Consider using Twitter as a networking tool. Follow other educators and their conversations to get ideas. Here's a list of suggested people to follow, some education related, some not.
2)  Take a look at some important documents about ed tech and consider the implications for schools.
3) Find out what other schools are doing. 


New Survey: Are Budget Cutoffs and Layoffs Affecting Your District?

I'm really alarmed about what seems to be happening around the country in terms of thousands of teacher layoffs. Arne Duncan has predicted as many as 300,000 teachers will be pink slipped, and I think that number is conservative. 17,000 educators have been pink slipped in Illinois and 22,000 in California alone, and I'm guessing no state will be left untouched. I'm curious about how this is affecting people in my personal learning network and am planning a blog post on this topic. Help me out by sharing your thoughts in this Twitter survey.  Thanks! I'll let you know when I post my findings and thoughts.

The Ning Debacle: It's Not About the Money (entirely)

Today, I sent out a blast in the Global Education Collaborative about the changes to Ning's pricing. Read more about it here, but the social network creation company is experiencing financial difficulties which have led to layoffs and the discontinuation of all previously free networks created on its platform. A plan is supposed to emerge within 2 weeks, and new APIs and features are expected within 90 days. Not soon enough, I say.

I started the Global Education Collaborative using the Ning platform in 2007 after being inspired by the success of Steve Hargadon's Classroom 2.0 Ning. My site has grown slowly, but steadily, and our membership hovers around 3500 members. Steve's Ning has an astounding 40,000 educators interested utilizing new and emerging technologies within his online community. Ning has changed the way I connect to other teachers, probably almost as much as Twitter. 

This afternoon as the news got out, it was fascinating to see people's reactions over Twitter. I followed a search in Twitter (#ning) and read everything from people truly shocked to others who thought it was high time people were expected to pay to others offering jobs to the laid off Ning workers. This is another example of how news can unfold via Twitter.

My first reaction was to panic and to chide myself for relying too heavily on a tool that inevitably was going to evaporate in some form. I thought about our members and how we would lose many if we moved to another platform; I thought about the all the content accrued in the GEC, too. I also thought about the current fee to have ads removed which is $19.95 per month. A friend emailed me to basically state that it's only fair to pay for services that are of high quality. I agree, but I believe that's from a business perspective, not an education perspective.

Here's essentially what I wrote in response with some edits: 

Educators pay out of pocket for many items that they are never reimbursed for, and generally, they are paid much less than other professionals. Educators pour tons of manpower hours into cultivating these networks as well. There are also many non-profits who are looking for affordable, preferably free, methods of connecting with their communities. The word of mouth support for Ning from these groups is huge, and should be valued by Ning.

Wikispaces has long had a policy of making ad-free wikis available to educators because they know the intangible value of having teachers use their product. They know that educators will spread the good word and will provide feedback to them about Wikispaces. I'm wondering if Ning has ever valued educators; many of us thought this when Steve Hargadon was let go as their education evangelist last year.

The most troubling part of Ning's announcement to me was that it was announced with no plan in place. People would not be freaking out if a transition plan had been made publicly available immediately. It should have been publicized in tandem with the announcement. I think teachers would pay if such a plan existed; we are not about free loading and know that if something is of quality, it's worth a reasonable price. 

One GEC member responded to my announcement in the Global Education Collaborative that several charities in Africa that he worked with had Nings and he would no longer continue with the company if they started to charge. Just think of all the good work that is going on around the world (where people AREN'T getting paid for their efforts) that may stop as a result of this decision. 

The bottom line is, however, that we'll just have to wait until see what plans unfold. I hope Ning is listening carefully to its user base. If you are interested in sharing stories and thoughts about this, please take my survey and you can also see the results here

Will Your Profession Wait for You?

What I am about to write is nothing new....many colleagues in my personal learning network have made this point before, and I think it's worth illustrating again.

Today I took my 7 year old son to a doctor's appointment with a specialist as Henry has had some ongoing GI issues. The doctor, whom I'm guessing is in his early 50s, adeptly pulled up a digitized xray of Henry's abdomen, zoomed in and explained what's been going on with Henry as he pointed to the xray. It seems we've been fortunate enough to see several doctors over the last few years who are practicing in places where access to digital xrays is possible; I am not sure this is the norm everywhere. The xray in a regular doctor's office definitely helped illustrate the medical problem to me, and I also noticed that the doctor was fairly comfortable navigating in this technology. I wondered if the hospital had provided training, if he had figured it out on his own, and if he had been reluctant at first to learn this. Clearly, learning how to access and review digital images was not optional for this doctor and this led me to wonder what the driving force was when technological change came to this doctor's office. 

That said, I'm going to echo what Joyce Valenza pointed out so well about librarians a few months ago. Why is it optional for educators to use technology effectively to support instruction? Why do we coddle teachers who claim that they can't or won't cope?  What kind of professional would dismiss the power of technology in light of the growing evidence that it engages kids, provides differentiation, and allows for collaboration? I know teachers are burdened with a great deal, but let's not use that as an excuse for not raising our professional standards.

The other thing that occurs to me now as I write... I'm fairly certain there are hospitals out there that don't have the technological capabilities of the one I visited today. It makes me wonder about how technology could impact the quality of medical care out there. The digital divide is not just limited to education most likely.

Obnoxious Online Marketing Tactics?

I'm preparing to write a blog post in which I'd like to incorporate the input from my personal learning network friends, so I've been posting the link to this survey in multiple places including Twitter, the Future of Ed ning, and Classroom 2.0. I'm wondering where to draw the line with this... when it does become obnoxious to see the same material in several spots online?

As I logged into EdWeek's Digital Directions ning this morning after following a tweet from EdWeek forum panelist Barbara Treacy, it occurred to me that by posting in lots of places, I may be joining a practice that I have long abhorred. I saw on the front page of this ning posting of a man pushing a product. He left comments on several members' pages, essentially cutting and pasting his message. 

This man, who shall remain nameless, has done this for consistently for the past few years. In fact, when he did this on the Global Education Collaborative, which I run, I asked him about his intentions and then banned him from the group when he did not reply. There is now another woman posting events that use this same product fairly often. I did a search for her name and she's an SEO expert and has been posting the same information about this same product in multiple Ning communities. I did write to her expressing my concerns and she said she'd curtail her postings.

When I've inquired on Twitter about the practices of the aforementioned man and the product he is pushing, I've heard from extremely reputable educational technologists who think the product is legitimate and that this guy is really a teacher. The more I see his name and his canned message pop up, though, affirms my doubts that he is a spammer. And frankly, I will not even look at a company's product if they resort to these kinds of marketng tactics. It takes away from the authenticity of relationships in these online communities and the lack of transparency creates makes me think this company is not trustworthy.

So, am I going in this same direction by posting in many places in line in order to reach as many people as possible? It's a fine line, but the bottom fine line is that I am not profiting from anything and I genuinely want to gather input from as many of my online colleagues as possible. 

UPDATE: I dug around a bit and it turns out that this aforementioned man who pastes canned messages on Nings is the US business development executive for this India-based company. Supposedly he works in a high school, but I couldn't find a faculty directory on his school's web page. My problem is that he is NOT transparent in his postings that he WORKS for this company and he is pasting generic messages on people's pages. He is not even engaging in conversations and mentioning his product in context. I would not have a problem if he was transparent with his consultancy, but I clearly recall asking him if he worked for this company and I received no response.

High Techpectations: Lucy's Cool Picks for Teachers and Students

High Techpectations: Lucy's Cool Picks for Teachers and Students.

During September, I'll be participating in Vocalo's education radio programming which can be found online at and on the radio in Chicago on 89.5 FM. I'll be featured every Friday at about 9 AM to give the quick scoop on cool web site finds for teachers and students. I'll be publishing those links here; for more fun sites to join my social bookmarking group at Diigo.

The list of links I'll be sharing can be found here and I'll be updating this page each week.

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.

Spontaneous Advice

I had the opportunity to run my first New Teacher Orientation sessions this week for teachers across our four campuses. We had two days of training available to about 50 new teachers; the first day was spent on mandatory applications and the second focused more on tech integration. I decided to query my Twitter network this morning to see if they had any good advice for teachers new to a pretty technology-rich environment and here's the list of tweets I compiled. I'm not listing names associated with the tweets to protect the innocent (just kidding) and because I think it's interesting to look at the response with the bias of knowing who suggested these ideas. Let me know if you have any other suggestions and I'll be happy to add them to this list!

NOTE: Responses below had to be kept to 140 characters in Twitter. Hence, the brevity and abbreviations.

What's a simple way to start infusing your curriculum with technology? What's a good starting point? Do you have a fav collab project?

Courtesy of my Twitter Network:

  • Suggest they take a part of their curriculum that they know well.... & consider if it could be made more collaborative, interactive, or personal for the students... then the tech tools are a win... 
  • Need a GREAT project? Use Glogster to create and publish a WOW multimedia poster on any academic topic! 
  • I've been thinking a lot about NETS-making tech "transparent and routine."  For tech neophytes, it's got to be non-threatening. so I've used GoogleGroups and GoogleDocs for out-of-class discussion and collaboration.
  • As a language teacher, has been invaluable with connecting my students to native speakers.  Also, wikis & google earth
  • Every faculty member has account-didn't support browser bkmrks when gave new machines-made em use del.icall summer collaboration and planning was done on wiki or google docs-all tech supprt documentation on wiki-students/teachers add 
  • Visit ISTE student profiles. Pick a unit to enhance w/them. See 
  • We start many a noobie on sharing online bookmarks, understanding how to share and access others bookmarks and subscribe to them.
  • Use technology to reach it?  Sometimes I think when they see how well the objective is reached, and how engaged the students are
  • We use wikis & google tools a LOT for collab started as tchr driven switched 2 stud recommend gaggle too
  • Blogs would be my top suggestion... very collaborative.. easy learning curve... lots of possibilities. 
  • My teachers found the collaboration to be a powerful and easily integrated project.
  • locating images for a timeline project? posting a question of the day on a class blog? recording and sharing language mp3s?
  • I started last year with podcasting and posted their work on the web, just like students in my class do. This year I showed teachers how to post and use a ning. They LOVED it. I call it Facebook for teachers.
  • Set up Google Apps for Ed acct. for older students. Demonstrate the powerful uses of apps. Learn to organize
  • Start with wikispaces. Look for other examples. Keep it simple & collborative. Kids work in teams to build wiki. Maybe info one?
  • I'd say using tools such as Voki and Voicethread have been a good start for me :o) 
  • Tchers have 2 start by letting go of the idea that they are "integratin tech" change to using tool for effective instruct ,that in response casts to gcast, post assign 2 wiki let kids discuss, storytelling 4 slide...feel post coming on:)
  • The easiest way for this writing teacher is to pick a topic, any topic, and podcast students
  • another starting point is to use VoiceThread to accomplish that.or start blogging and ask them to share their poetry (quick, simple success) then post that online. Have them drop poems into PPT Poetry then put it online with VoiceThread and invite feedback from other teachers' students on the poems, serious or fun.
  • Take them to and let them use the story mapper or to map a poem, story, nonfiction text
  • Do something simple that can be successful and allow person to see tech can support and make easier initially...find easy web sites that kids can do (my background is EC) that excite them. Find place so they communik8 (such as ask an expert)
  • Online enviros such as nings or wikis offer the most flexibility for just about any kind of content; images, video, audio,text
  • basic start would be w digital camera and bulletin bd then putting pics into projects, especially w a technophobe....take a look at what is happening and see what could be done w tech--morning messages, sign in on the computer, parent notes etc.
  • I think that there is incredible power in planning learning with other teachers, and inviting student input :-)
  • I think wikis are an easy way in for teachers. they understand the collaborative nature of them. So do kids
  • I think blogging is a simple way to start for humanities teachers. It's writing for an audience. That makes sense to teacher

iSummit 2009 - Nashville

I'm in Nashville through Saturday at iSummit, a conference for private and charter school educators at schools with 1 to 1 laptop deployments. I'm really excited to be here as it's my first time visiting Tennessee!

Below are my presos which I've posted in Slideshare. Please feel free to contribute to my Google Maps/Earth teacher meme project and to join our group in Diigo where I will be bookmarking relevant links. Also, consider joining the Google in Education group as well.

View Larger Map

Charter School Connections | Google Groups

Link: Charter School Connections | Google Groups.

I could have started another ning... but I thought I'd start with a good old-fashioned listserv!

I'm starting an unofficial and informal listserv for people interestedin or working in charter schools across the country. The inspiration for this is the wonderful ISED listserv (,
which has provided a great deal of guidance and support to me while working in independent schools. However, I am now working in the charter school world! I still refer to
ISED-L, but I personally am looking to connect with others who are working specifically in charter schools.

The purpose of this list is to facilitate conversation and the sharing of resources. While my area of specialization is educational technology, this list is not limited to just tech talk. Teachers and administrators can post questions, job opportunities, grant writing tips, project collaboration opportunities etc. Let's share how we are all re-inventing the education wheel, so to speak!

Please pass this along to any you know who might be interested. I would
really appreciate your help in growing this online community!

Friday 5: Pageflakes

I've been wrestling with a quick and easy way to direct students to relevant web sites. Our new web site management system is great, but a little clunky for quickly adding links. We have a wiki that will serve as a repository for curricular resources, but again, it takes time to add links to this. I also have envisioned one page of links for kids to reference, so that little ones in particular do not have to do a lot of web browser navigating.

So, the other day after speaking with technoguru principal, Tim Lauer, about how he keeps web sites up to date on his school's machines, I decided to try Pageflakes (

Here is a tutorial wiki on Pageflakes that explains everything you
need to know:

Techwithme: PageFlakes for Education

And, here are the ones I created for teachers at NKO focused on
currently taught math topics:

NKO Pageflakes Home

PreK-1 Cluster

2-3 Cluster

4-5 Cluster

Research and Resources

Fun For Kids

Teacher Sites

These pages are works in progress, so stay tuned!

Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year,

Lucy Gray

P.S. - Remember you can subscribe to the Friday 5 via email at!