Sunday, July 22, 2018

4-Part Checklist to Create A Killer Calendar Invite

If there is anything innovative educators need more of, it’s time. By being as complete and accurate as possible when creating a calendar invite, no one wastes time searching for location or materials.

Creating calendar invites is an activity that today's modern learners should be engaging in daily. Doing this correctly, is a skill that saves everyone time and should replace outdated practices like moving staff and students by bells and paper planners.

Four elements of a killer calendar invite

Special Note:

Vanity addresses
Ensure guests know the real name and cross streets of the location. Using vanity addresses only (i.e. 1 Rockefeller Center, 2 Times Square) is particularly unhelpful.

Entrance or Floor
If the building entrance or room is tricky to find, remember to include helpful information for finding the meeting location in the calendar invite as well.

Your Turn

What do you think? Would killer calendar invites help you save time? Do you include these elements in the calendar invites you create? Have you taught your students this important skill? Any other useful tips?

If you're an innovative educator that strives to do killer work, you can read other posts outlining how. Check out how to write a killer Tweet, how to create a killer blog post, how to host a killer ed chat, how to create a killer school website, and how to give a killer presentation.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Gates & Teacher Effectiveness: Duh

If you're an innovative educator, the news about teacher effectiveness having little impact on student achievement is no surprise. The Gates Foundation spent a whooping $575 million buckaroos, when they could have just been listening to teachers who knew better.  
The work that is necessary to support student learning is easy to understand and hard to implement.  It begins with Maslow's seminal work on human motivation.  Any good teacher knows his hierarchy by heart.
Gates mistake was moving directly to the top of the pyramid. The foundation neglected to acknowledge that we are teaching so many children whose basic needs are not being met.  First, we must address that. It is unacceptable that in districts like the one I work there are staggering numbers of homeless children. In every city, but especially one of the wealthiest in the nation, it is unacceptable that having a home is not a right. There are large numbers of children that are being raised without a father. The men need to step up. There are also many children not being raised by their mother or father. Hundreds of thousands of children bounce from home to home to group home to residential treatment center in foster care.  Of course, children who live with their parents may be suffering from abuse or simply the high level of anxiety school pressure puts on many students today.

Help comes in the way of providing the basics for our students: Stable homes. Safe and security. Food. Climate control (i.e. heat and air conditioning). Time for naps if necessary.
It means revamping teacher preparation and professional development to include: Supporting children living in trauma. Guidance counseling. Psychotherapy.  

But it doesn't end there. 

Even after we do all the work it takes to provide the basics for our children, many schools still don't have it right.  What's next is belongingness and love.  Devoid of that we will continue to see kids in gangs and victims being murdered. 

There are several school models i.e. Agile, Big Picture, or Democratic Schools that know how to achieve this and the answer is simple!  

Smaller student to teacher ratio. Period.

And, it's not just class size, but also class load. Research tells us that no teacher should ever have to teach more than five different classes. If they do, it is impossible for them to help students develop that relationship or belongingness. 

Our students and colleagues should be our family. In Big Picture Schools they outline the keys to student successSmall size, intimate advisory system, and insistence on parent participation all lead to making the school feel like a family and several features extend these connections and family feel even after graduation.  

It is not until we understand that as education leader Chris Lehmann says, "Our job is to teach kids, not subjects," we can begin the work we need to help our children succeed.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

#NYCSchoolsTechChat: #ISTE19 - Thursday at 7 p.m. EST

Join us for our monthly #NYCSchoolsTechChat on Thursday, July 5th at 7 pm EST. 

During this month's chat we'll reflect on past #ISTE experiences and prepare for #ISTE19 taking place in NYC's backyard right in Philadelphia, PA.  

#NYCSchoolTech teacher Eileen Lennon moderates with me throwing in my two cents. 

You can prepare for the conversation by thinking about answers to these questions:

  1. What advice do those who’ve attended #ISTE have for #NYCSchoolsTech newbies? #NYCSchoolsTechChat
  2. Here’s a fun question. #ISTE19 is in Philly. What must we do, see, eat?
  3. Call for proposals begins in August. What kind of topics might you submit? Share here and maybe you’ll find others who want to collaborate.
  4. If you could only attend one day or two days which are most important? Why?
  5. #ISTE takes place during the school year for #NYCSchoolsTech staff. How can you convince your supervisor to release you? #NYCSchoolsTechChat
  6. #ISTE is expensive. Best ideas for funding? Also, who wants to share transportation and housing? Shuttle bus? Air B&B? What are your best suggestions? #NYCSchoolsTechChat
  7. Check out what others said they may want to propose. Any interest in collaborating? Connect. Share what interests you! #NYCSchoolsTechChat

Chat details are below:
Date: Thursday, July 5
Time: 7:00 pm
Topic: #NYCSchoolsTech Summit
Your Host: @eileen_lennon (@NYCSchools)
Co-Host: @InnovativeEdu (@NYCSchools)

Remember to respond using the hashtag #NYCSchoolsTechChat and include the number of the question you are answering in your response i.e. A1 and your answer.

We hope you can view the chat live, but if you are unable, please visit our archive at You can also participate in the chat at that link or if you have an iPhone download the app at

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Simple Tip for Quality Posting & Consuming on Facebook

Have you ever noticed a post on Facebook where rather than seeing responses to the post, instead the thread is cluttered with folks indicating "following" or "f." Stop doing that.
Instead, just turn on notifications.
This way the content stays rich and clean and you get straight to the information you were trying to learn.
Here's how.
So, if you don't want to come off as the bad guy, just share this post in a group where this is an issue and help all those passionate group members get to the heart of the matter.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

New Infographic: 12 Strategies to Manage the Modern Classroom

Innovative educators know they have to update classroom management strategies in the modern classroom. Here are twelve strategies to do just that. 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Key to Differentiated Learning - Develop Student Experts

When you enter Dr. Lou Lahana's Tech Cafe at PS/MS 188, you aren't entering a classroom with a teacher preparing students for the future. Instead, you enter a space where social activists are working hard doing the real work of making the world a better place today addressing causes about which they are passionate. Lahana is a self-described passionate educator in search of technology to support talent development and social action in teens. 

Here is how he does that.

If students aren't sure about which cause they want to address, that's okay. Dr. Lahana has collected research and resources on numerous causes such as those below. The resources are always being updated by Lahana and the students.

Once they select their cause, they determine a course of action to address the issue using tools they chose.  Here are some tools in the toolbox.
Once the issue and tool are selected, students use them to select their own project and tools to make real-world change.  But how does Lahana manage to conduct a class where students own and lead the learning? Where every student may be working on a different project, with a different tool? 

The Key to Differentiation

Dr. Lahana's key to differentiation is the students. In Lahana's class it is students who rise up as the resident experts. Lahana's job is that of a conductor and environment creator. He points the students to the right resources and experts in coding, jewelry making, clamation, music and movie making and more.  Then he ensures students have the environment conducive to learning. This means there is a sound studio to make music, a wood working area, sewing machines to create wearables, a place to bake clay for claymation, 3D printers and more.

In short the students are empowered to own the learning and help one another to make the world a better place.

Here are some of the projects students have addressed.

Gun Control

Gun Control March
Students organized to march in support of those affected by the Parkland shooting and against the NRA. These 5th-8th grade students created compelling signs, marched, and listened to speeches. This movie which captured the event features a song performance by one of Lahana's students, Kayleen who used Soundtrap to create her song. Her track is available for free download at:

The Island School's Gun Control March from Lou Lahana on Vimeo.

Building A Greenhouse

This student wanted to address animal cruelty in the food industry by creating a greenhouse that produces fruits and vegetables students at the school can eat rather than meat. He used a 3D printer to prototype the greenhouse.  He used the woodworking tools to make planters for the greenhouse that currently stand in the school's schoolyard with plants.

Tolerance for Wearers of the Hijab

This student knew that other students didn't understand her and possibly misjudged her because she wore a hijab. She decided to make a movie inviting others to wear a hijab, explain how they felt, and she explained what it meant to her.

The Hijab Experience from Lou Lahana on Vimeo.

Deter Cigarette Use with a Smoke Detecting Shirt

This student wanted to address the dangers of smoking. He coded an Arduino to create a shirt that can detect smoke. When it does, it lights up with sayings to embarrass the smoker such as "stinky breath," "yellow teeth," or "lung cancer."

Your Turn

What do you think? Are there ideas here you could consider using with your students? Are you already doing this type of work? What excites you about it? What challenges do you see?