Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Innovative Educator Named Top 10 Ed Leadership Blog

Educational Leadership Blogs
The Innovative Educator was selected from thousands of blogs as a top educational leadership blog by Feedspot using search and social metrics. This is the most comprehensive list of educational leadership blogs. 

Feedspot selected these blogs because they are actively working to educate, inspire, and empower their readers with frequent updates and high-quality information.

Blogs are ranked based on following criteria:
  • Google reputation and Google search ranking
  • Influence and popularity on Facebook, twitter and other social media sites
  • Quality and consistency of posts
  • Feedspot’s editorial team and expert review
The Innovative Educator is one of 15 blogs selected. I appreciate those reading The Innovative Educator. I also encourage readers to check out some of the other blogs listed on Feedspot to get additional inspiration.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Google Slides Has Easy Peasy Accessible Closed Captions

Closed captioning is helpful for many students during presentations.This is because captioning makes content more accessible and inclusive. It is accessible to those who are hearing impaired. Students may learn better if a presentation is closed captioned because captioning makes content cognitively easier to understand. Students for whom English is not their first language will have an easier time comprehending what is presented. 

 However, closed captioning wasn't always that easy to do. 

Until now. 

Now, closed captioning in Google Slides is easy peasy. Just select "Present" and select "captions." Have questions? Read this "how to" from Google or watch the demo below.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Inbox Zero or Inbox Infinity? Which Type Are You?

When friends or colleagues celebrate their "Inbox Zeros" I'm thinking, (not saying) really? "Is that how you want to spend (ahem waste) your time? Inbox Zero is so last decade." Interestingly many of the Inbox Zero folks are those who are not the most responsive to emails. The ones you are always circling back to follow up on an email.  

Inbox zero  increased efficiency

Getting your inbox to zero does not necessarily mean you are efficient at work or being a responsive friend or family member. It just means you're good at deleting. It could also mean you have a touch of OCD as you compulsively let your email stress you out.

My approach: Inbox infinity 

My approach is different. It's sort of a Marie Kondo approach. If addressing that email doesn't spark joy, I don't respond. Sparking joy for me translates into responding to emails that need action, are a priority, and those which are best handled via email. This means I respond to about 20% of my emails. Of the emails I respond to, I don't delete and I don't sort.  

What I do instead: Skim, search, star

I skim my emails. If it is one that needs attention, I answer it or star it. After I do, I don't delete it and I don't archive it.  I just leave it. Rather than sort my email, or make rules, I use search or view stars to access emails that need additional follow up.  

Inbox Infinity Can Equal Greater Efficiency

This technique gives me the opportunity to be intentional about how I respond to family, friends, and colleagues. I control my technology, time, and what I focus on rather than the other way around. I also find methods that are more effective than email to communicate. I let those I interact with most know this. Other methods of communication include chat, text and online communities. I also let them know that if an email goes unanswered, it is a good idea to message me instead. I prefer Teams, Facebook, or Twitter for that. 

As a result of this strategy I can do more of what matters in less time then those who obsess and stress about each and every email.

Oh, and if you're wondering what Inbox Infinity looks like, here's mine:

Thursday, February 7, 2019

#NYCSchoolsTechChat: Valentine's Special Tonight at 7 p.m.

As Valentine's Day approaches, this chat will give participants ideas for way we can touch our students' hearts so we can reach their minds.

#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:

Q1 What innovative approaches are you using in your classroom to celebrate Valentine’s Day? #NYCSchoolsTechChat

Q2 Learning is at the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. How are you ensuring your students feel a sense of love and belonging in your classroom? #NYCSchoolsTechChat

Q3 What are schoolwide approaches used where you teach to help students feel they are loved and they belong? #NYCSchoolsTechChat

Q4 In this digital world, what are some ways we can use technology to help students feel love and belonging? #NYCSchoolsTechChat

Q5 Do you have innovative approaches to help families feel a sense of love and belonging in the school community? #NYCSchoolsTechChat

Chat details are below:
Date: Thursday, February 7
Time: 7:00 pm
Topic: Valentine's Day Special: Touching Our Student's Hearts to Reach Their Minds
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

Sunday, February 3, 2019

2 Tips to Connect with More Families on Facebook

More and more educators and schools are using Facebook to connect with families. However, they might not be connecting with as many families as possible if they are not ensuring they are posting inclusive content. This is particularly important in places like New York City which serves a population where 20% of students have disabilities. About half of the population speaks a language other than English at home according to census bureau data.

Plain Language

Posts should be written below a grade 9 level. This is so the content can be more accessible for those with cognitive or neurological issues. It is also because plain language translates more accurately than complex language.

Alt Text

Add alt text to your images so that those using screen readers know what is is your image.  Here is how:

For New Photos

1) Select "Edit Photo"
Demonstrates selecting edit photo

2) Click "Alt text" and enter text

For Existing Photos

1) Click on the picture in the post. 
2) Select "Options" under the picture. 
3) Select "Change Alt Text."
Demonstrates selecting picture, then options, then alt text

4) Select "Override generated text." 
Demonstrates selecting override alt text

5) Enter new text and save.
Demonstrates entering alt text

Checking Photos for Alt Text

To see if a photo has alt text follow these steps.

1) Right click on the photo and select "inspect." 

Demonstrates selecting inspect

2) When you are in the inspect screen click accessibility and see what words come up for image.

Screenshot of what an inspected photo looks like and where you can see alt text

Your Turn

What do you think? Will you incorporate these tips into past and future Facebook posts? 

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Beyond Music & Weather: 3 Ways to Get Smarter with Smart Speakers

Smart speakers were "The Gift" of the 2018 holiday season. By the end of 2019 they are expected to be in about half of all American households. Alexa has a 66% share of the market. Google has 29%. HomePod has just 5%. 

Currently the top use for the device is playing music. This is followed by answering a general question, providing the weather forecast and telling a joke.  

So, where does getting smart come in?

Smart speakers provide a great way to listen to a diverse selection of news outlets, podcasts, and books. Here is how to access each on the most commonly used speakers from Amazon and Google. 


The news is a simple feature to find and set up in your app's settings. 


On Alexa news is found in "Flash Briefing." With Alexa you can have this as a part of your, "Start my day" routine. 

Here is what it looks like:
Screen shot of Alexa "Flash Briefing" featuring, NYC news, WNYC News, ABC7, NPR news Hour. 

Google Home

On Google Home it's called "News." With Google the news can be a part of your "Good Morning" routine. This is where you can set up all your favorite news shows.

Here is what it looks like:
Screenshot of the "News" in Google Home featuring "the Economist, WSJ, Al Jazeera."


Did you know that podcasts weren't even a thing before the internet? Since then their popularity has exploded, but how do you know what to ask your smart speaker to play? 

Here is how to get started.


The best way to listen to podcasts on Alexa is by enabling the "Skill" called "Anypod." Once you've enabled it, you can ask Alexa to subscribe to your favorite podcasts. You can also visit Anypod to search for and add podcasts. Not sure where to start? Check out the "Podcast Playlist for Innovative Educators" or head over to NPR and see their selection of podcasts. Anypod will allow you to fast forward, rewind, play first, latest, or a specified podcast number.

Here is what it looks like.

Screen shot of the AnyPod subscription library

Google Home

Visit Google Podcasts and you'll see numerous options from which to create your podcast playlist. From there, you simply ask Google to play your podcasts. 

Here is what it looks like:
Screen shot of my Google Podcasts library


Smart speakers provide a great way to listen to books. Here's how to get started.


Alexa is connected to your Audible account. Once you have audio books there Alexa can play them.  

Here is what that looks like:
screen shot of the Audible bookstore library with a book called, "The new childhood: Raising kids to thrive in a connected world."

Google Home 

Google is connected to your Google Play Audio Books account. Once you have books there, you can ask your smart speaker to play them.

Here is what that looks like:
screen shot of Google Play audio book store with the Marie Kondo book about Tydying.

Your Turn

What do you think? Can smart speakers provide a useful way for you and your family to get smarter about topics, news, and events that are important to you? If you have tried it, what's the experience been like? If you haven't it may be time to give it a go.