Sunday, August 30, 2015

Winner! The 3 #BackToSchool Supplies Necessary to Boost Learning

By Isiah Rosa.

Isiah is a rising junior high school student from Brooklyn, New York.
Isiah working at All Star Code

I am a student, coder, and an activist. As of the writing of this essay, I currently do not have a laptop to call my own. A.K.A “thanks for letting me use your laptop dad!.”  It is essential for me to have a Chromebook Flip, bag from Griffin, and Internet On The Go MiFi for school and outside projects.  Here is how these three supplies will boost my learning.  

The MiFi is probably the most amazing invention ever, because I have had many a time when I wanted to work on a project, and I just couldn’t because the public WiFi was a mess *cough* Starbucks *cough*, or it was the end of the month and I couldn’t afford to go over my data plan. Honestly, seven gigabytes is NOT enough.
Bags are the quintessential school supply. It is useful for my learning because it will be able to store all of my supplies (pens, pencils, books, binders, and a laptop among other things) to and from school.
The MiFi and bag mean nothing without the Chromebook Flip. Here is how this laptop/tablet will help me with my school work, activism, and coding.  

School work

With this new laptop, I could work on school projects and presentations using Google Slides, and write essays using Google Docs. Google Drive would become my sanctuary for schoolwork. The cloud is my best friend! No more notebooks! Save the trees!


I could use the Chromebook Flip to help build my network to organize and coordinate rallies and protests for movements using Facebook and Twitter. I could also use social media to keep in touch with fellow activists and network with others. This last winter my fellow classmates organized a schoolwide rally to support the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Our protest was big enough and loud enough that CNN caught wind of us and sent the chopper to track us. With the laptop I could network with friends outside of school and help organize even larger protests to keep these movements alive.


Now for the coding part. This summer I worked at All Star Code, a prep program which connects young men of color to the tech industry. At ASC (All Star Code), I learned programming languages such Python and Javascript, and used them to create games and websites. The project I’m currently working on is called NEX. NEX is a video game discovery service aimed to make shopping for video games like browsing the app store on a phone or tablet. With the laptop, I would be able to work on NEX anywhere and everywhere, which is something I would very much like to do.

The Chromebook Flip, bag from Griffin,  and Internet On The Go MiFi will help me pursue and grow the important work I am pursuing both inside of school and for outside of school projects.  Thank you for this opportunity and for considering my entry.

Editor’s Note:  This post was submitted in response to the contest: Your Chance to Win The Only 3 #BacktoSchool Supplies Necessary This Year.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Hottest Posts Everyone's Reading

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

This week, it seems educators are excited to learn about tips to keep in mind when using social media with students. There was also interest in finding out why it makes sense to use hashtags at your next event, whether back to school night, parent-teacher night, a fundraiser or science fair.  Next up was a piece that is a detour from what I usually cover here, but it points to the importance of relationships rather than punishment in building community.  And, if you were wondering what a teacher entrepreneur or teacher intrapreneur  is and/or how to become one yourself, read my post on that to find out how to hear from some talented educators who are doing just that.  

There's a few more posts to round out the top. 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.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What's Most Important When It Comes To Learning?

What's most important when it comes to learning? 

A good teacher?
A motivated student?
Class size? 

Of course each of those are important factors, but today there is something equally, if not more important. If teachers don't get on board, they will cease to be relevant. The most important factor for lifelong learning today is this:

Being connected.

Gone are the days where students entered the building, disconnect, and power down. Today's teachers must know how to empower themselves and their students to make the important connections they'll need for success both inside and outside of school. This means teachers understanding how to build global learning networks for themselves and supporting their students in doing the same. 

No idea how to get started? No worries. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

How I Became A Teacher Intrapeneur. 4 Ideas to Inspire #TEWeek Followers.

If you work in a school system chances are you have a job that you've seen implemented as a student. You teach a subject you were taught. You are a principal or administrator. You serve as a guidance counselor, etc.  But, lately, there is a new role available in the field of education. That is the role of an intrapreneur. Intrapreneurs work within an existing organization to take direct responsibility for turning an idea into a successful outcome often through assertive risk-taking and innovation. 

Put another way, intrapreneurs often see a need or something that is wrong  but rather than complain, they do something to make it right. This is something I've done throughout my career.

Here's how.

1) Direct A Learning Oasis
  • The problem: There was no place for students to discover and develop their passions and interests.
  • The solution: I took an outdated, dusty library and created a learning center in a school. I connected with a law firm to get thousands of dollars worth of books donated. I connected with a marketing firm to get computers and educational videos donated.  I worked with the local community to bring in programs like Junior Achievement.  I worked with a program called Power Lunch to connect students with mentors who would talk, read, and write with them during lunch time.  Prior to my coming to the school, the library stood dusty and unstaffed.  I laid out an exciting vision that the principal could connect with and want to bring to her school.  
2) Help Coaches Harness The Power of Technology
  • The problem: My district hired literacy and math coaches for every school. These coaches were carrying around huge binders of materials that also needed to be distributed to teachers, flip charts that needed to be shown and duplicated, and had a hard time meeting the demand for demonstrating best practices in delivering lessons and techniques such as conferring.  The need was figuring out a way to get materials to teachers and for coaches to meet the demand of providing demonstration lessons.  
  • The solution:  Technology would solve this issue for coaches.  I was hired to gather all the materials coaches need and digitize them. Gone were all the binders and papers. It was now neatly on every coaches laptop. Rather than having coaches run around demonstrating lessons and techniques, we taped the best educators doing those lessons and made those available to coaches to share with teachers.  I saw the need. Shared the idea with Central staff at a coaching session and not long after, I was hired for the job.  
3) Embrace Student Voice and Social Media
  • The problem: If we want students to engage responsibly online, educators must be in their worlds interacting and model appropriate behavior, but in some districts they were limiting online interactions or banning it altogether.  
  • The solution: I spoke out about the issue by commenting on a newspaper story on the issue. That became it's own headline story which led me to explain the importance of educators interacting with young people using the tools of their world. After the story came out I met with senior leadership at Central and explained that guidelines and policies around social media needed to include the voices of students and teachers and we needed to provide professional development and lessons that supported teachers in helping our students engage online in ways that would lead to academic and career success. The department hired me as the Director of Digital Literacy and Citizenship to do just that.  
4) Digital Engagement + Partnering with Companies for Learning
  • The problem: Teachers around the city were using the same resources but they weren't connecting with each nor were they connected to those providing the resources.  
  • The solution: I worked with companies like Google, Microsoft, and PBS to create online and face-to-face programs for educators across the district to connect.  For the first time teachers who were wild about various resources and programs could meet each other then stay connected in online communities. They were also trained so that they could support others in using the programs and products. At the end of the training they are certified and recognized for their work. This was a big need for companies and for our district. This has been my work for the past year as the Director of Digital Engagement and Professional Learning.  You can see more about the program in this video..  
A new cohort of Everfi Certified STEM Teachers
These are some of the ways I've achieved success as an intrapreneur in my career. What are some problems in your school or district? What type of work could you do to address them?  

You can hear my thoughts in the video below which was taped as part of  Steve Hargadon as part of his Teacher Entrepreneurship series. 

My advice for other teachers: "Start small, capture great stories, & 
then show people (don't just tell them) why your idea is great."

Public schedule and viewer links are at:

Tweet or follow the hashtag at #TEWeek

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Teacher Entrepreneurship - Learn What It's All About From The Experts

Have you heard of teacher entrepreneurship? Know what it is? If not, you want to find out? If so, want to hear from some teacher entrepreneurs? 

You're in luck. Steve Hargadon guides us through four evenings of interviews, live on Google Hangouts on Air / YouTube. Join to learn more about the world of teachers as agents of creation and change. 

Tune in to an amazing lineup that is broadcast for free this week, August 24 - 27 from 6 - 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Interviews last 15 minutes each. You can sign up here.and Tweet or follow at #TEWeek. Visit this link for the entire lineup.  

I'll be discussing how...
"Teacher entrepreneurship can mean establishing a unique, uncharted career path to best meet the needs of staff, students, and families."
I hope you'll tune in to listen and share your support on Monday, August 24th at 8:45 p.m. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Hottest Posts 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.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Relationships, Not Fines, Lead to Great Schools + Communities

Editor’s note: This post takes a detour from the usual topics covered on this blog, to address an issue I recently encountered. I share it here because there is a connection with community relations, effective communities, and effective schools.  

One of the things New Yorkers love about our city is our marvelous transportation system. Whether it’s trains, buses, bikes, or feet, New Yorkers know how to get around. And get around we do. In fact anyone who lives here and tracks their steps can tell you that without even trying, we get the recommended 10k steps a day just living our daily lives. More and more not only is this city pedestrian-friendly, but with the introduction of services such as CitibikeNYC, it’s also become bike friendly.  Or at least one would hope so.

If you’re a New Yorker, you know the rules of the road on foot and pedal. According to a New York City Transportation spokes women, most buttons are placebos. More than 90% of crosswalk buttons don’t work. When you are at a corner, you look both ways and cross when safe. Or as Time Out New York puts it in the article 51 reasons you know you’re a real New Yorker: #4. You jaywalk (and would never consider not jaywalking).

In fact, when you see someone waiting until the light changes when there are no cars coming, it can mean only one thing.

You’ve spotted a tourist.  

Not only has this become a rule of the road, but it’s also become an efficient and effective way to keep people moving more safely. Rather than moving among cars, walkers and cyclists can move on empty or less crowded roads.

When the topic came up in San Francisco, Tom Shuler of the Boise Police Department explained to the San Francisco Examiner that allowing cyclists to yield, rather than stop, “makes the road safer for cyclists because it gets them out of the way of cars.”

This is a community norm. The common sense way we operate in New York.

But perhaps not anymore. One of the things that New Yorkers hold dear, (the effective means of getting around town) is being threatened under the guise of “safety.”

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Your Chance to Win The Only 3 #BacktoSchool Supplies Necessary This Year

When the parents and teachers of today's students prepared for school, they had a long list of supplies and back-breaking book bags. Thank goodness that can be a thing of the past for students today.  

With the exception of Kleenex, nearly everything else on the following back to school list is obsolete and replaced with just three items in the 21st century classroom.

The 3 Back to School Supplies for Today's Learners

Sunday, August 16, 2015

10 #BacktoSchool Tips for Students to Keep in Mind When Using Social Media

Traditionally as students come back to school, it is important to establish a positive classroom culture. Today, more and more districts are following the lead of places like New York City where schools are empowered to support students in the responsible use of cell phones and social media. That means that not only must we support the establishment of a positive classroom and school culture, but we must also ensure our students are engaging positively and responsibly as digital citizens.  While students are all familiar with the “social” aspect of social media, teachers have an important new role. That is to help students consider the “power” of social media for academic and career success. If our students want to run for office, run a business, or change the way things are run where you live, work, or play they must be savvy in the use of social media. 

Not only is effective and responsible use of social media important in our student's day to-day-lives, but it is especially important for students pursuing college, internships, or careers. Social media is the public identity that our students are sharing with the world and the world of college recruiters and human resource personnel are watching closely.

That's why as we head back to school this year, it is important that teachers ensure that what students are sharing will get them positive results.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Hottest Posts 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.

Aug 2, 2015,
Jul 26, 2015,
Jul 22, 2015,
Jul 15, 2015,
Jul 29, 2015,
Jul 15, 2015,
Aug 5, 2015,
Jul 19, 2015,

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Should cellphones be allowed in school? My Response.

Do personal devices support learning? That's what I was asked by "The Signal" blog which facilitates a conversation about communication, safety and making families work.
The question was prompted after a recent study that found students performed better on exams under a cellphone ban which has been used to cast doubt on city's like New York who have lifted the ban. Of course studies such as these are highly flawed for numerous reasons. For example they assess students as though they live in a disconnected world where the tools we need for success outside of school are considered devices of cheating. Additionally, they look at environments where teachers look at student devices as weapons of mass distraction, rather than those where educators are knowledgeable about using devices as tools of engagement. 
I shared my ideas about how cell phones become learning tools when they are a part of, rather than apart from learning by following a five step plan and incorporating strategic building blocks to success.  Find out how by checking out the article here.