Sunday, June 30, 2013

Infographic flyer: What's your digital footprint?

This infographic flyer was created to put important digital footprint information in one place in a graphically pleasing format.  Take a look and let me know what you think. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The hottest posts that everyone's reading

Here’s the roundup of what's been popular on The Innovative Educator blog. Below you’ll see the top posts along with the number of page views. I hope there's something that looks of interest to you.  If it does, check it out. If you’re inspired use one of those icons below the post to share it with others and/or leave a comment.

Page Views
Jun 2, 2013,
May 26, 2013,
Jun 9, 2013,
May 14, 2013,
Jun 4, 2013,

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

5 tips to help students write for career success

Here is how most of my writing starts.
The unspoken truth about teaching writing in schools is that few people doing so are published writers themselves. What's worse, the message that students get is that in school they don't focus on writing for real. Let's be honest, how often do you read a book in the real world and think, "Oh! I want to write a book report!" How often do we take two texts to analyze and write a paper that we hand into someone. How often do we research something, then write up a research paper for no one?  
Why aren't schools helping students write for real? Why aren't those who teach writing, publishing their work and helping their students to write for real audiences? 
In her article, How to teach kids to write effectivelyAuthor Penelope Trunk, tells us that however you're teaching your kid to write, it's the wrong way. She advises that lessons in passion-finding skills are way more important than any writing curriculum you've dreamed up.
Below are five tips she suggests for helping kids write in ways to support them in being successful in careers. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

3 ways to use the old-school phone to enrich learning

One of the oldest forms of mobile social networking is the old-school phone call. Innovative educators like Will Richardson and Marc Prensky have said, “Life is an open phone test.” Except at school. Why is it that in the real world we are valued for our ability to address and use connections to solve our problems, but in school we call that cheating? In its most primitive form, the cell phone is a great tool to just reach out to someone who may know and answer or be an expert on a topic of interest.

Who's doing this?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The hottest posts that everyone's reading

Here’s the roundup of what's been popular on The Innovative Educator. Below you’ll see the top posts along with the number of pageviews. I hope there's something that looks of interest to you.  If it does, check it out. If you’re inspired, share it with others and/or leave a comment.

Jun 2, 2013,
May 26, 2013,
Jul 15, 2010,
Jun 9, 2013,
Jun 4, 2013,
May 19, 2013,
May 29, 2013,

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Common Core practice tests now available online

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, one of two collections of states that are designing online tests aligned with the Common Core standards, has released online practice tests in both ELA and math for students in grades 3-8 and 11.
The tests will help schools prepare for implementation of the Smarter Balanced Assessment System in the 2014-15 school year, the organization says.
The practice tests allow teachers, students, parents, and other stakeholders to experience the features of online testing and gain insight into how Smarter Balanced will assess students’ mastery of the Common Core. However, they don’t encompass the full range of content that students will encounter on the spring 2014 Field Test and should not be used to guide instructional decisions, the consortium warns.
The practice tests include constructed-response, selected-response, and technology-enhanced questions. Performance tasks, which are longer activities that ask students to apply their knowledge to solving “real-world” problems, are available for ELA and will be added for math by this fall. Scoring keys will be available July 1.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Google Voice simplifies and enhances the work of innovative educators

Google Voice is a terrific tool for educators. Google Voice gives you one phone number that is tied to you. You can chose to have that phone number ring any phone you’d like. As a result, you can pick just one phone to take with you and all your phones will ring into it. You will never again need to carry multiple phones or swap phones. Another feature that teachers will love is that it gives every teacher their personal secretary as all voicemails are transcribed. You'll never need to transcribe a message, or sort through 4 voicemails to get to the one you were trying to listen to. Just read or click on the message you want to hear and skip over the rest.  Another way Google Voice is like the built in teacher secretary is that it asks callers to announce themselves. No more being concerned about unknown numbers. You'll always know who is on the phone before you pick it up or, you can choose to just send the call to voicemail.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Innovative Educators named Bammy Awards finalists!

The Academy of Education Arts and Sciences announced the finalists for the second annual Bammy Awards which recognizes the contributions of educators across 23 categories. Finalists include teachers, principals, superintendents, school nurses, education advocates, researchers, early childhood specialists, education journalists, education school professors, school board members, education bloggers, parents and other members of the broad education community. School librarians and school technologists are new to the list this year. 
Nominees were submitted from across the nation. Five finalists were selected in each category. I am thrilled to share that many of the nominees from "The Innovative Educator" here (for their work with student-centered learning) and here (for use of social media in education) made the cut. 

Here are the innovative educators from around the nation who made the cut, listed in alphabetical order.
Deven Black - School Librarian
Deven makes a difference in many ways. For his students, he made a difference by taking over a library that had become moribund, out of date, anachronistic, completely disorganized and with no technology. In two years he turned it into a much more modern, way more up-to-date, fully automated functioning library that circulates 200 books a week. He also is always on a quest to support students in learning in ways aligned to their interests, strengths and talents as he wrote about in this great lesson that he implemented

For his colleagues at his school, Deven has led the development of a more technology-capable staff through one-to-one training of tech-phobic or reluctant teachers. On a larger scale, Deven has served on the review committee to help implement the new social media guidelines for NYC DOE employees.

Chris Casal - School Technology Support
Chris Casal is making a difference by facilitating communication with all school community stakeholders to establish a fully connected and transparent digital learning environment designed to build and strengthen relationships.

Parent’s can’t always come to school to meet with teachers, the administration can’t always observe every great lesson or activity. Chris helps to keep them in the know with the PS 10 social media platforms. This helps the school connect with parents & community members on a wide variety of digital platforms with a consistent message. There is the PS 10 Facebook page where he posts status updates with fliers about fundraisers, changes in schedules, links to news articles about the school or relevant NYC school information. He also manages the school’s Twitter account (@PS10Brooklyn) and hashtags #ps10bk & #ps10sw. This helps streamline the publishing of general information & student work, helping to create a very transparent learning environment. The transparency of Twitter and the school hastags allows parents and staff members alike to have a front row seat to the great things happening in school. Parents can follow teachers and get a regular glimpse into the classroom settings, even when they are unable to be there. The administration can more easily be aware of great instructional moments, even if they can’t be there first hand by keeping up with school hashtags and teacher handles. During Superstorm Sandy these social media outlets provided a lifeline for the school to keep all stakeholders up-to-date and supported.

Whether it is child, teacher, parent, or community Chris Casal works to ensure all members of the school community are supported in becoming active, engaged, and involved members of the digital world in which they live.
School Board - Lisa Cooley
Lisa Cooley brings real education change to the school board table. Her position on progressive education and opposition to high-stakes testing and standardization bring the wider world of school transformation to a rural New England school district. She brings her ideas on meaningful student learning to every aspect of school board activity, from the budget, to curriculum decisions, to student expulsion hearings.

Her goals are to bring students’ interests, passions, enjoyments and curiosities to their everyday work at school are why she should receive this recognition.
Sara Cottone - Parent Leader
Sara Cottone understands that in today’s struggling economy there are many more working parents. It is very hard for them to make the time to be at the school, but even a little time is so worth the effort so Cottone has come up with innovative approaches that not only support her school community, but have also become a model for the largest school district in American, New York City. The innovative practices Cottone incorporates to reach working parents are now used as a model and example for other parent coordinators across the city who are looking new ways to connect and coordinate with their school community. Cottone teaches us that even if parents can’t be at school, there are ways to keep them connected. Some of the ways she does this include creating online spaces where they can not only get information, such as the Parent Coordinator website (, but also a space for them to interact, a Parent Coordinator Facebook page
Secondary School Principal - Chris Lehmann
Chris Lehmann not only talks the talk. He gets right in their and walks the walk...and in some cases, like when he does races with students, he'll run the run to keep up with his kids.

The best way to explain why Chris should be recognized is to share some of the talking that Chris walks in his own words:
  • "If you dare kids to do real stuff that matters, you better be prepared to get out of the way."
  • “Technology should be like oxygen: ubiquitous, necessary, and invisible.”
  • "I want kids to be "thoughtful, wise, passionate and kind."
  • "Schools can be places of great passion where students learn what it means to be scholar-activists, fully invested in authentic work that matters to them today, not someday."
When Chris is not talking the talk and walking the walk, he is writing about it. His blog ( is a continual source of inspiration to educators, parents, and students around the globe.

Kris Nielsen - Middle School Teacher of the Year
There are innovative educators in thousands of classrooms all across America. Having served as a middle grades educator and instructional leader for six years in New Mexico, Oregon, and North Carolina, Kris L. Nielsen is one of them.  Nielsen became frustrated as he watched political policies put in place that are strangling the drive and desire for educators to be the innovative class leaders they grew to be. As a result Nielsen was compelled to write Children of the Core written with parents in mind, and with students as the inspiration. Nielsen says, “We--parents, students, and teachers--were promised a revolutionary new system that would narrow the achievement gaps in reading and math, create environments for deeper and critical thinking, and prepare our students for life, career, and college.  What we’re finding is that none of this is true.  It’s all totally opposite.”
Me! Education Commenter / Blogger
I was excited to recently learn that I too was nominated for an award.  Exciting!!!

Here’s what the nomination said:
Lisa Nielsen thinks in very liberated and liberating ways about education. She pushes the envelope in the area of reinventing what schooling means, what the objectives should be and how do it. Outspoken and courageous, she has taken many bold and controversial positions based on her belief that educators and education must be reinvented to be relevant in a brave new, technology-driven world.

Lisa is a strong collaborator and works with many groups to help move education reform forward. It's hard not to be impressed by the extent to which Lisa will go to push others forward, to empower and support the people she believes are on the right track. Her passion, energy and bias for action puts her in the league of proactive bloggers/commentators who go beyond writing and speaking about education reform to actually organizing and acting to advance the reforms she believes are critical to the field of education. Thoughtful, way out of the box thinker, more than and idea person...a "doer."

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The hottest posts that everyone's reading!

Here’s the roundup of what's been popular on The Innovative Educator blog this week. Below you’ll see the top weekly posts along with the number of pageviews. I hope there's something that looks of interest to you.  If it does, check it out. If you’re inspired, share it with others and/or leave a comment.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Does Twitter have a minimum age requirement?

Twitter used to be very clear that you had to be 13 to use their site. In fact, it was the first bullet in the "Basic Terms" section.  

On September 18, 2009, Twitter released a new Terms of Service that omitted the age requirement which you can see here  Additionally, Twitter does not ask your age when creating an account.  They also have safety tips for parents that do not mention an age requirement and they announced an age screening policy that indicates Twitter account holders can determine what age you must be for use. This might appear to indicate that there is only an age requirement to engage with certain Twitter accounts.

However, their privacy policy says this:
Our Policy Towards Children  
Our Services are not directed to persons under 13. If you become aware that your child has provided us with personal information without your consent, please contact us at We do not knowingly collect personal information from children under 13. If we become aware that a child under 13 has provided us with personal information, we take steps to remove such information and terminate the child's account. You can find additional resources for parents and teens here.

This (If you become aware that your child has provided us with personal information without your consent)
could be interpreted as Twitter requiring parental consent under 13. However, this (If we become aware that a child under 13 has provided us with personal information, we take steps to remove such information and terminate the child's account.) could be interpreted as 13 being the age requirement.  

Maybe someone from Twitter can clarify, but in the meantime, what do you think?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Where does world-changing fit into the #CCSS ?

My friend Angela Maiers has been visiting me in New York and came over last week totally jazzed about helping kids in a school she visited change the world during the last couple days of school. For many teachers, however, it is  not clear where world-changing fits within the testing and standards each student is required to meet at every grade level and in every subject. 

Instead, the focus is competition and acquisition, mastery, and assessment of skills as outlined in this video.

Three-Minute Video Explaining the Common Core State Standards from CGCS Video Maker on Vimeo.

Success is focused on individual performance indicators that can be summed up by data, achievement reports, test results, and transcripts, It is not clear where we fit inspiring students to use their passion, skills, talents, and abilities to do the work that Angela describes as W.O.W. (worthy of the world).

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Google SMS discontinued. Try these great alternatives.

Google SMS provided a great way for students to learn right from their phones. Sadly, now they are gone. Google's decision to streamline their services, unfortunately leaves behind so many of our students who don't have access to the internet. Fortunately, in the world of Web 2.0 once one service is out, another one or two gems are usually standing by in the wings to replace it.  In this case, there are a couple services that may provide even more value to learners and like Google SMS they are free and easy to use.  

Here they are:

Monday, June 10, 2013

Students Talk Social Media in Education via the 1st #StuVoice Google Hangout

Student Voice launched their first Google Hangout.  The topic was: Learning in the 21st Century: Social Media in Education. During the hangout participants discussed how they are using social media in their education and how they think it can better be used in their learning experience.

Here are the topics that were discussed.

  • Education on proper use - Social media is an effective and necessary tool when those using it are educated properly on its use.  
  • Use in the classroom - Students are using social media for research, communication, and connection via activities and platforms such as a study group on facebook, talking to peers about topics of interest, connecting with influencers and policy makers on Twitter.
  • Choice is key - People want options. They want a platter of services. We can’t push it in their face, but instead need to give them options for achieving learning goals.  
  • Most commonly used platforms - Participants all agreed that Blogs, Facebook, and Twitter are the most popular platforms.  Also mentioned were Wikis and LinkedIn.

Hangout participants included the following individuals.  Click on their name to learn more.


You can view the hangout below!

About the Student Voice Google Hangouts
Student Voice is launching an On Air Google Hangout series that will bring together students and other stakeholders in the education field for a face to face conversation. The hangouts will allow students to connect with their peers from across the globe and present action-oriented conversation to the Student Voice community that expands upon the 140 characters of our weekly #StuVoice Twitter chats.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

5 ways innovative educators can spice up their Linkedin profile

Crossposted at Smartblogs

Linkedin is the 21st century resume. As such, part of supporting college and career readiness includes having an updated online image. It is important for educators to have a strong Linkedin profile not only as a model for their students, but also for families who want to find out a little more about their child’s teacher. Bonus points if your school website lists links to teacher profiles.

Just like with paper, you want your online professional profile to stand out and accurately represent your image. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

1) Add pizazz to your summary
This is your opportunity to connect. Be fun. Be playful. Be professional. Draw readers in so they want to learn more.

2) Use your name to connect with Tweeps
If you’re a Twitter user, you may want to consider editing your name and putting your Twitter handle as your former name. That’s just another place people can then be directed to learn more about you.  It would look something like this: Lisa (@InnovativeEdu) Nielsen

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The hottest posts that everyone's reading!

Here’s the roundup of what's been popular lately on The Innovative Educator blog. Below you’ll see the top posts along with the number of pageviews. I hope there's something that looks of interest to you.  If it does, check it out. If you’re inspired, share it with others and/or leave a comment.

May 19, 2013,
May 14, 2013,
May 26, 2013,
May 12, 2013,
Jun 2, 2013,
May 3, 2013,

Thursday, June 6, 2013

5 ideas for using Google Hangouts On Air

If you're an innovative educator, by now, you have probably tried Google Hangouts which let you conduct a video conference with up to ten people / locations FOR FREE! This by itself has terrific potential for teaching and learning tool. 

I explained here ways the following ideas could be put to use in the classroom:
1)  Take a class without having to be in the same place.
2)  Invite an audience to a performance.
3)  Invite others to perform/discuss with you.
What you may yet to have tried is livestreaming your Hangout and capturing it via YouTube. This is known as Google Hangouts On Air which takes something that was already awesome, and makes it even better. 

You can see what it is here:

You can find out how to set it up here.  

You can discover five great ways to use it for education below.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The 411 for coordinating a Google Hangout On Air

If you thought Google Hangouts were cool, you’ll find Google Hangouts On Air even cooler.  Check em out here.

Hangouts on Air are truly awesome, but coordinating them is tricky and takes some careful planning.  As educators, you’ll want to be especially aware of this because if you are not careful, you can have a situation like the one my friend Angela Maiers shared with me recently. Though it is funny it retrospect, it certainly wasn’t when unknown men joined the Hangout she was conducting and were less than professional.  Not only was it disruptive to the Hangout, but it rendered the recording useless. You can avoid embarrassment, chaos, and appearing unprofessional and unprepared by following these recommendations.