Sunday, October 21, 2018

Podcast Playlist for Innovative Educators

The learning never stops for Innovative educators. When you’re jogging, cleaning, driving, or out walking your dog, a podcast provides a great way to keep the learning going while you’re doing something else.

Here is my current podcast list.  

The 10-minute teacher is a 5-day a week show for  remarkable teachers from around the world who are very busy.  Every weekday get inspired with quick interviews of important trends, topics, and tools impacting K12 teachers.
Host: Cool Cat Teacher’s Vicki A Davis’s

Big questions and provocative conclusions about technology and culture.

Host: The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson

EdTechAfterDark is more than just a discussion about education or technology. It's an idea. An idea that even when the sun goes down, our school communities never stop moving forward for our children.
Hosts:  Ed Tech After Dark’s Dan KochAlex StubenbortZac Leonard

Discover the hidden side of everything with each week as Freakonomics Radio tells you things you always thought you knew (but didn’t) and things you never thought you wanted to know (but do) — from the economics of sleep to how to become great at just about anything.

Host: Freakonomics co-author Stephen J. Dubner

Modern Learners Logo
Expert interviews, real-world stories, and provocative insight in a fast-paced, interview-style podcast

The podcast is about learning with technology, the realities and exciting potential, but it’s also about youth and the practitioners who support them–youth developers, museum educators, teachers, mentors, counselors, parents–as they grow their identity, and journey forward.
The #NYCSchoolsTech Podcast amplifies the innovative practices of NYCSchoolsTech staff and inspires others in NYC and beyond.

These are podcasts that I listen to or have been recommended to me by #NYCSchoolsTech colleagues including Lori Stahl-Van Brackle, Clemencia Acevedo, SteveBorba, and Kim Landman.  

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Money-Saving Facebook Setting Phone Providers Don't Want You to Know

If you have Facebook on your phone, you may have noticed that videos automatically play.  If you are not connected to WiFi this eats up your data. Here's what my data looks like:

When talking with some colleagues we were discussing this and found out how to stop that from happening.

Here's how:

Step 1 - Go to "Settings"

Step 2 - Go to "Media and Contacts"

Step 3 - "Choose when videos autoplay"

I like the videos so I selected "On Wi-Fi connections" but you may want to select "Never autoplay videos." 

Do this and your monthly data fee is sure to go down.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Tool to Brand Yourself or School with a Logo

Educational institutions are becoming more and more aware of the importance of branding staff and schools in our digital world. However schools and districts often don't consistently have and/or use their logo and slogan in their materials. In fact often staff do not even know their slogan and in many cases if they do, it does not seem meaningful or relevant and/or they are unsure where it even came from. 

Your Slogan: What Do You Stand For?

To begin thinking about branding you can start by thinking about yourself, what you stand for and what a consistent slogan can be across platforms. From there you can think about your employer. My slogan is, "Passionate about real and relevant learning." 

Once you have your slogan, you can begin to create your logo. A convenient site for that is an online logo maker called DesignEvo. 

Getting Started

You can start by searching templates then customizing them.  Here's what that looks like:
Website page with categories and sample logo designs

From there you can customize the design and the words.  It all can be done in a matter of minutes. Easy peasy.  

I designed one for myself which you can see below.  
Passionate about real and relevant learning. Picture of a brown head and torso with green bubbles around.
Logo made with DesignEvo

Use in Schools & Classrooms

There are so many ways this could be used in a school setting.  For example students could design logos for themselves. From there they could have a contest for a class logo.  Each class could submit a possible school logo that could be voted upon.  

Your Turn

Do you have a logo and slogan for yourself, school, or district that is predominately displayed in digital and physical spaces? If you do, how does that help the community come together and get on the same page about what you stand for? If you do not, what are you waiting for? Hop on over to DesignEvo and give it a try. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

New Infographic: 8 Dates All Teachers of #EdTech #DigCit #MediaLiteracy Should Know

Post this on your wall for 2018/2019 school year as a reminder of all the dates you can celebrate ways to prepare modern learners.

Visit the infographic here.

Monday, October 8, 2018

No. You Haven’t Been Hacked Or Cloned On Facebook

Do you have friends who are you sending around this ridiculous message?

They’re sending it even though they didn’t get another friend request and even if they did, why would it make any sense to forward a message to people about something you supposedly received from someone else?  And, if this person received a friend request from you, why would they ask you not to accept a friend request from them?

People are not even bothering to comprehend what they are carelessly sharing with others.


Friends are forwarding this, posting it on their Facebook timelime, even  going as far as deleting messenger (the best platform-agnostic tool in which to communicate) over a silly, nonsensical, fake, chain post.  

People are also getting mad at Facebook rather than the friends who are spreading spam. People are also spreading incorrect advice suggesting folks change their password.  This does nothing if someone has cloned your account. Cloning an account is something that can happen by someone creating an account using your pictures to make it look like your account. Changing your password does nothing. Reporting the account does.  More on that here.

Here’s the thing…

If you have not verified something is true, keep it to yourself.  
If you don’t have the time to verify it, keep it to yourself.
If you like the idea, and don’t care if it’s verified, keep it to yourself.
If you don’t care if it’s true, you think it is interesting and want to share, keep it to yourself.
If you can't help yourself because you love sending spammy chain messages to people, resist the urge, keep it to your self.

If you don’t want to keep it to yourself, you are being an irresponsible digital citizen and that makes your friends uncomfortable and suspect of what you say and share.  

Don’t be that person.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Developing A Community High School - Lessons from @BrotherAmouzou at #TLTechLive

Wisdom Amouzou shared his approach to developing a community high school with education leaders across the country at the Tech & Learning Leadership Summit in Denver, CO.

His approach consists of these four phases:

1) Participatory Research

2) Mission, Vision, Values

3)School Model

4) Community Outreach

The Community Design Team consists of 23 students, 8 parents, 6 community members, and 10 educators who came together twice a month for dinner meetings where every member had an equal voice in providing input into the school’s model and design.  

The Community Design Team created the below schedule consisting of five components:

Here is what each component consists of:


-Performing Arts



-Travel abroad 

Here is what a student schedule might look like:

Here are the three truths that make up why this approach is necessary:

Empower High School will open in fall 2019.  You can learn more at

Saturday, October 6, 2018

7 Dates #EdTech Teachers Need to Know

If you teach tech, then you need to know when important tech topics are celebrated across the year.

Below are the dates every tech nerd teacher needs to know (listed chronologically) to celebrate with students and families:

    Tuesday, October 2, 2018

    #NYCSchoolsTechChat: #DigCit #MediaLiteracy - Thursday at 7pm EST

    How will you prepare your students to be media literate and responsible digital citizens? 

    What do you have planned for the upcoming recognition dates?
    Citizenship Week - October 15 - 19
    National Bullying Prevention Month - October
    Media Literacy Week - November 5 - 9, 2018

    Join us Thursday as we discuss these and other topics about #digcit and #MediaLiteracy 

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

    Q1 Why do students need to learn media literacy and digital citizenship? What is the risk if this isn’t learned?
    Q2 How do you partner with families to ensure students are media literate and digitally responsible citizens?
    Q3 If you had to pick one component of media literacy or digital citizenship that you find most important what would it be and why?
    Q4 What resources do you use and how do you decide what makes a “quality” resource?
    Q5 What is ONE THING other teachers and/or parents should know about media literacy or digital citizenship?
    Q6 How do you recognize the different calendar events such as
    Digital Citizenship Week, National Bullying Prevention Month, Media Literacy Week 

    Chat details are below:
    Date: Thursday, October 4th
    Time: 7:00 pm
    Topic: #DigCit #MediaLiteracy
    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

    Tuesday, September 18, 2018

    The Value of #EdTech Certifications: #NYCSchoolsTech Podcast 3.0

    Cross posted at the #NYCSchoolsTech blog.

    Educators share the value in developing expertise and showing what they know via #EdTech recognition programs like the #NYCSchoolsTech Partner Certification Program . This program allows educators to develop expertise and receive recognition from companies like Common Sense Education, Google, Apple, Microsoft, PBS/WNET, BrainPop, SoundTrap, and more.

    #NYCSchoolsTech educators interested in learning more and applying for these programs can visit the training tab of our website at and join our #NYCSchoolsTech online community

    In this podcast #NYCSchoolsTech Podcast host, Nancy Ribak Altadonna interviews four innovators who share how these recognition programs have supported their teaching, learning, leading, and sharing their knowledge with others.  

    Benefits discussed include:

    Developing your learning network

    Educators explain the importance of developing a network of passionate peers they can connect with face-to-face and online. They also share the value of having a direct connection to staff at the companies whose products they use in the classroom.  


    Becoming a part of a group recognized for your expertise, connects you and allows you to develop relationships with like-minded people not possible with one-shot-deal learning opportunities. These programs result in lasting connections and support to an intensive network of others who share your interests.

    Owning the learning

    Traditionally educator learning has consisted of your administration telling you what should be important for you to learn. This can leave innovative educators feeling disconnected to what their learning. With recognition programs, the educator owns the learning and must convince their administration why something is important showing lifelong learning and agency with a commitment to share what they learn with others. 

    You can listen to the time stamped highlights of what some #NYCSchoolsTech leaders said at the links in the table above. Check out what they had to share. If you find something of interest, you can see the timestamp below and jump to exactly what you want to hear in the podcast.

    Nancy Ribak Altadonna (Intro)

    Social Studies Special Educator at Fort Hamilton High School in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
    Nancy is the host of the #NYCSchoolsTech podcast. She provides opening remarks and interviews today’s guests.  

    Sean Arnold (2:00)

    Special educator and STEM Coach in NYCs special needs program
    Sean talks about...
    How what he has learned in these ed tech certification programs has helped him find as many tools and resources as possible to support students with special needs in consuming and creating in ways never before possible.

    Cindy Wong (8:30)

    Tech teacher at Crocheron Elementary School in Queens.
    Cindy talks about…
    How certification programs have supported her in being a life-long learner and relating to her students more effectively. She also shares that pursuing this type of learning encourages you to reflect upon your own parenting and consider what you are doing well and areas for growth. 

    Steve Borba (13:00)

    Tech coordinator, computer science teacher, and data specialist at PS 175M in Central Harlem. Steve talks about…
    How teachers lives are made easier when they embrace, learn, and develop tech expertise. That’s because tech can give you a new found means and toolset to creatively connect with and reach students. 

    Eileen Lennon (21:00)

    Tech teacher at Nathaniel Hawthorne Middle School 74 in Queens
    Eileen talks about…
    How pursuing recognition as an expert enables her to use tools most effectively as possible to support teaching and learning and help others do the same. She also shares how such recognition has improved her ratings and evaluation by school administration. 

    Your Turn

    Guests answered a series of questions during their interviews. What do you think?  How would you answer the questions this episode's guests discussed?
    1. Why would advise someone to pursue an #edtech certification?
    2. How does/could your school/district utilize certified #EdTech teachers?
    3. What ed tech certifications have you pursued you be interested in pursuing? Why?
    4. How has/can certification help improve practice or benefit your work or career?
    5. Share 1 way ed tech certification benefits students or staff? 
    About the Host of #NYCSchoolsTech Podcast:

    Nancy Ribak Altadonna @nancella

    Nancy is a Social Studies Special Educator at Fort Hamilton High School in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. She became a teacher through the NYC Teaching Fellows program 10 years ago. Before teaching, Nancy worked in media where she was awarded “Best Evening Radio Host” from the Austin Chronicle at South by Southwest. Nancy received NYC Schools Tech certifications as a PBS Learning Media Master Teacher and Certified Soundtrap Educator. She is currently working on a doctorate in Learning, Instruction, and Innovation. Nancy is thrilled to be the host of the #NYCSchoolsTech Podcast which is here to amplify innovative practices of NYC Schools Tech and inspire others in NYC and beyond. 

    Sunday, September 16, 2018

    Freebie & Ideas For Parent-Teacher Conference Success

    Parent-teacher conferences provide a way for staff and families to better to connect to support students. They can also be stressful for all parties involved. Parents and teachers may be nervous about what the other will say to them about the child. To make conferences more pleasant and strengthen relationships remember the importance of promoting good will. Your job as a teacher will be easier if parents are your partners and look forward to your conversations with them about their child.  

    While academic performance and test scores have their place, this information is easily accessed by parents. When you meet face-to-face parents want to know that you genuinely know and care about their child.

    Here is how to do that.

    Ask students what parents want to know

    Middle school English teacher and Y.A. author SJ Donovan explained that to prepare for parent-teacher night, she asked her students what they thought their parents wanted to hear from her about their class. Students shared that parents would want to know about her methodologies, teaching style, and how she integrates technology into learning. She shares their ideas in this post. Adding to Donovan’s idea, I would also ask each class member to share their response so that you have a personalized message for each parent. This also gives those less inclined to speak in public a chance to have their voice heard. You might want to consider using FlipGrid for this. (Not sure what FlipGrid is? Read this overview from Sean Arnold’s, “Brave in the Attempt” blog.

    When parent-teacher night begins, the teacher can kick it off to a parent group a discussion sharing with them what their children want them to know about how they spend their day. In some schools there can be limited time for one-to-one conversations.  This strategy gives all parents a general sense of what they can expect for their child.

    Ask parents what they want you to know about their child

    If there is time for one-on-one conversations, the teacher can start by sharing that one idea their child wanted their parent to know. Next, the teacher can ask the parent what they want their teacher to know about their child and the teacher can record that in the child’s file or it can be left as a reply on FlipGrid.

    Discuss how the child thrives

    The teacher can review key pieces of the student’s learning profile with parent.  Thrively is a tool that allows you to collect a free report of how every child thrives and ideas to support that at school and home. If possible, give the parent a printed report to take home. If you not able to print it, let them know how to access the report.  This article shares more on Thrively and how students can begin their free strength assessment.

    Classroom learning stations

    In some schools teachers have a line of parents waiting out the door. Make use of that time. Have stations set up around the room for parents to learn more about what happens in the class. If possible each station would have a student at the helm sharing with parents. Stations can also be independently accessed. The stations could contain student work that is physical.  It could contain a slideshow on a laptop with useful ideas for learning at home. There might be a station with recorded student presentations. Maybe there is a bulletin board where parents can scan QR codes to learn and see more about students and their work.

    Parent Agenda & Notes

    Have an agenda that fits on one page so parents know what to expect and have a place to record notes. This helps you to frame and focus the conversation and provides follow up notes for the parent. Here’s a sample you can customize and use for your own class.

    Your Turn

    What do you think? Are there ideas here that could work in your school or classroom? Have you tried any of these ideas? What has worked well? What challenges have you encountered?