Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Stop Herding Students By Bells - Teach Them These 4 Calendar Tips + Mistakes to Avoid

If there is anything innovative educators and their students need more of, it’s time. Always on the go, teaching and learning new things with new people in a variety of places. Those places may be physical spaces, phone calls, Skype, Hangouts, and more. Start the New Year off right by resolving to make calendar invites that save everyone time by being as complete and accurate as possible.

While creating a calendar invite might seem like common sense, this post was brought about, because the majority of calendar invites I receive contain at least one of the nine mistakes listed below. Don’t let that happen again. Give this post to new hires, secretaries, new partners, have it lying around the school or office. If you are a teacher, TEACH this to your students.

Important note for teachers and administrators: We must stop training students to move around according to the bells required for industrial age jobs and start teaching them calendar creation and management. 21st century schools need to ditch the bells and begin using the systems and technology of the modern world.

So, let's begin. Here is how to create a proper calendar invite.  

Hopefully you know how to get started, but if not, here is how in two common calendar formats.
Select "New Appointment"
Select "Create"

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Youth Movements Allow Students to See A World Bigger Than Themselves - #VibeEdu @VibeIsrael Tour

This is just one in a series of ongoing posts on the educational innovations in Israel. You can see additional coverage here

In America, this week marks a holiday break. How are the young people in your life spending their time? Some adults lament the activities of, “Kids today.” They are staring at screens using social media. They are playing games. They are watching TV. But the outlook shouldn’t be so bleak. If students are not doing wonderful things, we shouldn’t blame kids, we should look at the opportunities adults are providing to them. What if there was an opportunity in your community for youth to spend free time in meaningful ways with other youth?

In Israel, there is.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Hottest Posts of 2015 - Holiday Reading

BYOD, Social Media + Research - Most Popular in on The Innovative Educator in 2015.

Happy holidays innovative educators. I hope this was a great year for one and all and that you found at least a post or two here on The Innovative Educator blog that helped make your year a success.  The top post of the year is something I feel strongly about teachers remembering and that is that when it comes to learning, we are not the most important factor. Check out the post and see if you agree.  

Overall the most popular posts were those relating to research,  bring your own device, and harnessing the power of social media in general and Twitter in particular. It is clear that educators are hungry for evidence to support their decisions to bring new ideas to the classroom. It is also refreshing to see that more and more educators, schools, and districts (see #20 - my district!) are embracing bring your own device. 

Some reflections 

On a personal note, I was happy to see the #12 post make it to the top where I share my frustration about the role of law enforcement in my community. I was also happy that post #15 got a lot of attention and even inspired a Twitter chat. It addresses strategies every school can incorporate to make their environment more welcoming. #19 points out my very favorite laptop device. The Chromebook Flip. It has a price point under $300 and is my personal go-to device for work or play. During my recent trip to Israel it is the only device I took with me. It is lightweight, robust, touch screen and has an 8-hour-battery life.  

There are several others rounding out the top 20. 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.

1The Teacher Is Not The Most Important Factor When It Comes To Learning1119911/22/2015
27 Must-Haves for Teaching + Learning with #BYOD 109633/22/2015
310 Tips for Students to Keep in Mind When Using Social Media108018/16/2015
47 Innovative #EdTech Practices You Can Implement at No Cost99143/15/2015
55 Benefits of Using a Hashtag for Events97268/2/2015
6Nearly 60% of Teens Use Their Own Mobile Devices in School for Learning95755/3/2015
7Screentime - Focus On Quality, Not Quantity89834/12/2015
87 Ways Social Media Has a Role in Education85823/18/2015
9New Research Shows Digital Content Increases Student Achievement83545/24/2015
10New Research: Banning Cell Phones Prepares Students for The Past79895/27/2015
11Don't Go #BacktoSchool without Knowing How Every Child Thrives75268/9/2015
12Relationships, Not Fines, Lead to Great Schools + Communities72448/20/2015
13Should cellphones be allowed in school?72038/12/2015
14Confronting Fears - #BYOD for Students71211/13/2015
156 Updates to Welcome Your School Community70069/13/2015
165 Strategies To Trend On Twitter at Your Next Event69958/5/2015
17A Learning Model with No Tests, Teachers, or Curriculum Standards68499/15/2015
18Socialization: How are Schools Doing?68437/15/2015
19Flipping for New Chromebook for Today’s Classrooms64427/29/2015
20After the Cell Phone Ban - NYC Schools Launch #BYOD60287/19/2015

Friday, December 25, 2015

Give the Gift of Tech + Stop Feeling Guilty

It's Christmas Day and children everywhere are excitedly opening gifts. Many of those gifts may be the latest gadget, gizmo, or gift card. Some parents might feel guilty about the exposure to "screens" and it's no wonder. Today, as I was trying to have a Merry Christmas myself, I was interrupted by my friend Lisa Cooley who sends me a curmudgeonly article from Diane Ravitch’s blog: It’s about Paula Poundstone, the comedian, who has this Luddite advice for parents: break your children’s addiction to electronic devices.  
Ravitch asks, Is she right or wrong? She says, "Shouldn't children spend time making things, not just consuming what someone else has made? Shouldn’t they have time to use their own imagination, not just imbibe the products of someone else’s imagination?"
Well of course! What Ravitch and Poundstone are missing, and don’t appreciate, is that kids are not just consuming. They ARE MAKING things online. In fact they are creating more than ever before. Not only that, they have access to more books, knowledge, experts, and creations tools than ever before.  
Ironically, Ravitch and Poundstone are using the very devices they are blasting to get their message across and have conversation with others...other real people.  

So, before you get too worried about your tween or teen and the screen, here's another take on the misguided animosity against screens presented by Poundstone. With a few tweaks to the original, courtesy of moi, it is easy to see we're scapegoating and misunderstanding the power, knowledge, and connections screens can provide. Screens are just a tool controlled by a human. The real issue is not that children are using screens, but how children are being required to spend their days regardless of whether or not they're using devices.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

15 Surprising Facts abt #Education In Israel - My #VibeEdu @VibeIsrael Tour

This is just one in a series of ongoing posts on the educational innovations in Israel. You can see additional coverage here Israel is the #2 country in the world for students going to university and Israeli Jews have among the lowest unemployment rates for those under 30. Israel is home to the most start ups and PhDs per capita and is known for a culture that breeds creativity. It seems it might be worth taking a look at some of their educational practices that result in such success. Fortunately, I had an opportunity to do just that serving as one of five edubloggers to take in part in the #VibeEdu Innovation in Education Tour organized by Vibe Israel, a non-profit nonprofit focused on changing the way people think and feel about Israel. I spent a week crossing the country, visiting places schools and other educational institutions and meeting with the students and adults that are responsible for ensuring Israel remains a hub of innovation, and entrepreneurship.   While I was there, I learned these surprising facts that are in play in their education system. As you read each one, forget what you've been told about what education should be or has to be. Instead, think about what practices could be put in place in your school, district, or community to help students there achieve success. #1 Schools are segregated Most schools are segregated by religion and race as follows: 1-Secular schools offer the state-education curriculum in Hebrew as set by the Ministry of Education 2-Orthodox schools offer state-religious education in Hebrew, with greater attention devoted to religion and Jewish culture 3-Arab schools offer the state curriculum in Arabic, in combination with a greater focus on Arab history, culture and beliefs.
#2 Boarding schools are for disadvantaged youth In America Boarding schools are usually for privileged. In Israel they are mainly for disadvantaged youth and funded by the government. About 9% of the schools are boarding schools. This post shares an example of what one school looks like:

#3 Progressive schools are government funded
Progressive schools such as Democratic, Montessori, and Waldorf are all part of the national school system + funded by the government on a per pupil basis. Most people I spoke with found it strange that the United States government did not allocate money to all types of schools on a per-pupil bases. They referred to these type of schools as “unique”

Sunday, December 20, 2015

14 Lessons in #Education - Takeaways from Israel Via The #VibeEdu @VibeIsrael Tour

This is just one in a series of ongoing posts on the educational innovations in Israel. You can see additional coverage here.

#VibeEdu Bloggers pictured in a classroom designed
to support students with attention deficit.
I learned a lot about learning after serving as one of five edubloggers participating in the #VibeEdu Innovation in Education Tour organized by Vibe Israel, a non-profit organization with a mission to promote Israel as a vibrant hub of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. After a week of crossing the country, visiting places, companies, and organizations, and meeting students and adults, I discovered innovative practices that are incorporated into their schools and culture. 

Below are some of the lessons I learned that contribute to making Israel the #2 country in the world for students going to university and resulting in one of the lowest unemployment rates for those under 30. As you read each lesson think about which you may be able to use to support student success where you work.

1) Give and You Shall Receive
If you want community support, you must support the community. The First Robotics Y Team 3211 of Yeruham needs donations from the community to fund these young makers. The students don't just engage in innovative projects, but rather the projects they select often support the community. They have made several small cars which they call bimbas for children who are unable to walk.  You can see two of the children in the pictures below.
This strategy seems to have paid off in more ways than one. The team took the gold at 2014 FIRST Tech Challenge in the US. The Robotics team has a goal to reach 2000 likes on their Facebook page. The students ask that you please check out what students in Israel are doing with robotics by visiting and liking their page at
-The Y Team FRC 3211-Yeruham

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Hottest Posts Everyone's Reading

Here’s the roundup of what's been popular on The Innovative Educator blog.

A new post takes the lead this week. It challenges the assumption that the teacher is the most important factor when it comes to learning. Right behind that is a post that addresses a big mistake that schools, districts, and ed tech companies make when it comes to building relationships and promoting themselves. This post tells how hashtags can be used to address that mistake. 

There are a few more posts to round out the top including one that addresses the role of the teacher who uses tech to support learning and another about best practices and strategies I have found successful for some of the most critical issues in digital learning.

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.

Nov 22, 2015, 
Nov 25, 2015, 
Nov 15, 2015, 
Nov 17, 2015, 
Nov 8, 2015, 
Nov 11, 2015,