Sunday, July 14, 2019

9 Platforms & Techniques for Successful Team Learning

The logo for our buttons
and hashtag for the work.
There are many benefits of attending events as a team and learning together. Doing so successfully takes preparation, planning, and the right tools. If you are coordinating an event for you and others, the strategies, tools, and platforms below may help you do so successfully.  

Facebook event

A Facebook event allowed those across New York City schools to find and/or inspire other colleagues to attend.

Face-to-face proposal writing session

Educators came together for a one-day session to create proposals to submit to the conference. More than a dozen educators presented as a result of the presentations submitted at this session.  

MS Teams for planning and collaboration 

Educators used an MS Team to share files, discuss how to volunteer to cover the cost of registration, sessions, and more.  

Facebook group chat

During the conference we used an ongoing group chat to share what was worth seeing, events folks may want to attend, thoughts about the keynote, etc.  

#NYCSchoolsTech buttons

One of the educators created a logo for our group and another turned them into pins that we all wore proudly during the conference. 

Friend locator 

The Friend Locator app enabled us to easily find each other throughout the conference.

Google Maps

We had customized Google Maps that indicated where we were all staying as well as important points of interest for conference goers.

Google Sheets

A Google spreadsheet enabled us to easily coordinate travel, accommodations, attend each others sessions, etc.


Everyone was on Twitter. We used the hashtag #NYCSchoolsTech to share our learning.

Your Turn

If you've attended events with others you may have experience with some of these strategies and platforms. What has worked for you? Have you tried something that is not listed here?

Friday, July 12, 2019

Quick Guide to Accessible Social Media

Responsible social media use means being a good digital citizen. Good digital citizens know the importance of sharing inclusively. When you share inclusively, what you share is accessible to everyone. Not sure what that means? 

Mindy JohnsonDirector of Digital Communications & Outreach for AEM Center & CAST, created a useful graphic that explains how to share accessibly.

Social Media Accessibility: Plain Language represented by a speech bubble, CamelCase Hashtags represented by a # symbol, Image Descriptions represented by an icon of three people, Captioning & Audio represented by closed captioning & audio description icons, and Link Shorteners represented by the WWW abbreviation. | Mindy Johnson @min_d_j CC-BY-NC-ND
You can learn the specifics and find resources for each by visiting "Best Practices for Accessible Social Media."

Monday, July 8, 2019

Better Together: 9 Benefits of Team Learning

A collage of group photos of the educators who attended ISTE together.More than two dozen educators from across New York City schools experienced the benefits of team learning when they descended upon Philadelphia, PA for the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference.

You can read the insights of these attendees below to discover the benefits they realized as a result of participating in events as a team. If you like what they shared you can click on their name to learn more about them and follow them on Twitter.

Better Together

Being together as a NYCDOE team made such a difference. The discussions went on all day and night about how we can all be better. I loved being part of our team. It made ISTE 100 times better.

Overall the level of support, technical assistance, and collective knowledge made us all more effective.

Supportive Environment

I felt supported and welcome in the group. The conference was not isolating or overwhelming like I imagined, I had a group of people I could turn to when I needed help, directions, advice, session ideas. ISTE with #NYCSchoolsTech inspired me more than anything else in my teaching career.

It was powerful and energizing to know that we have each other for support, collaboration, and good conversations. 

Having a team there enabled us to attend one another’s presentations and provide a supportive environment for colleagues. 

Deeper Discussions

We discussed what we learned, what we shared, what help we might need, what we will do when we get home. All of those discussions happened in Philly when they couldn't have happened anywhere else.

We had in depth discussions that I would not have had with strangers- the tech trends we foresee in NYC, different ways to foster community among teachers, and how to implement more digital inclusion in our practice.

A Part of Something Bigger

In my school I often feel very isolated, an island struggling to make connection with the mainland classroom. The group always give me a sense of being part of something bigger. 

Making District-Specific Meaning 

It was most important to turn to my colleagues and say ”what do you think of this... in nyc?” To grow we need to collaborate on a level beyond the day to day. Being there as a group helped us to do that.  
--Clay Smith

This atmosphere allowed for conversations tied to relevant and current content which we could discuss in terms of how it relates to or work at the NYCDOE.  

Conferences are a chance to learn from others and bring back actionable practices to your school, but attending as a group is so much more fulfilling. At one point I mentioned something I was considering doing at my school and was given advice and model schools in NYC to look to for inspiration and best practices.

Attending ISTE as a group meant being with like-minded and bold educators with a vision to prepare students to be future ready. 

Benefits to Non-Attendees

Attending as a group allowed DOE members to record my sessions and allow DOE staff not in attendance to benefit from being able to view the material. 

Strengthen Relationships

Meeting colleagues/collaborating from across the NYCDOE from our online PLN (#NYCSchoolsTech group) in person helped me feel closer to the community, gave me a sense of who to seek for crowdsourcing. There are so many incredibly talented educators within this group each with a unique skill and experience.  


The group helped me find sessions that I might not have considered which benefited me greatly (I even sprinted to a session!).

Being a part of the group enabled me to be aware of sessions and learning opportunities I didn't have time or the availability to make.

A Sense of Belonging

I attended the last ISTE in Phili years ago, and felt very detached. This year, it was the opposite. I felt closer to the whole Network of NYCDOE Tech people, and to EdTech as a whole.  I came back so much richer than I went.  It also helped me clarify what I want to do with the next phase of my career. 
--Eric Kollin

his was my first ISTE and being a part of the group made this experience non-isolating and helped expand our network to share ideas and resources. 

Your Turn

What do you think? Have you attended a learning opportunity with others? If so, did you realize any of these benefits? Anything missing? What are some strategies you’ve put in place for successful team learning?

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Best of #ISTE19 Podcast from @SoundTrap. Great for Those #NotAtISTE

As the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference ends and summer begins, Soundtrap provides us with a great learning series. It's called #BestofISTE.  Each of the 20 episodes highlights the best of what is taking place at ISTE from the perspective of accomplished leaders at ISTE. 
Dr. Jennifer Williams records podcast with Dr. Rod Berger
 at the Soundtrap booth at #ISTE19

Podcasts include experts discussing topics such as accessible technology, digital equity, digital portfolios, inclusive classrooms, and podcasting with students. 

Each episode was taped, edited, and uploaded directly from the Soundtrap booth at ISTE.

You can check out the series which is available for free on Spotify at

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

#ISTE19: What's Your 6 Word Story?

I came across a laptop at the International Society for Technology for Education conference that had a sticker on a Discovery Education laptop asking: What's your six word story

I spoke to the Discovery reps about what it meant. They shared that you can use it for anything really. 

Having students watch a video? Ask them to be ready to report their six word story about it. Wondering about prior knowledge when introducing a topic? Ask participants to share their six word story. 

Attending ISTE with a bunch of brilliant colleagues? Ask them their six word ISTE story. That is what I did over lunch with some of the #NYCSchoolsTech staff who were attending ISTE.  

Here are their six word stories in a video.
Visit the six word stories from #NYCSchoolTech educators.

You can also read each story below. Some had two.

Six Word Stories from #NYCSchoolsTech educators at #ISTE19

Collaborating to predict the future world.
Perpetually ten minutes from your destination.
- Jenny Foxe

26000 people getting better together. 
-Eileen Lennon

Nerdy educators sharing stories in Philly.
Deeper dive into edtech. Infinite possibilities. 
-Cindy Wong

An experience that invigorated my being.
Sharing #JackiesShoes yearly at #ISTE19.
-Jackie Patanio

Where serendipitous connections can change everything. 
-Lisa Nielsen

Your Turn

This is a cool technique to do at a conference or any event or activity. If you were at ISTE or if you know someone who was, use the six word story technique to share reactions to the experience. It is a fun and meaningful conversation starter.

Monday, June 24, 2019

The Next Big Trends in #EdTech from @ISTE CEO Richard Culatta at #ISTE19

Innovative educators understand the importance of being in touch with the latest trends in ed tech. Richard Culatta, CEO of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) helps us by sharing what the organization sees as the next big trends. To bring this to life, he had the global leaders in each area explain what's in store for us.

2019/20: The Year Of...

Artificial Intelligence

Culatta explained that AI is so important that General Motors approached ISTE with their concern that today's students won't graduate prepared to work for them. They need students who are immersed in and knowledgeable about AI on their team. But most teachers aren't doing that.

Fortunately, teachers like April Keck DeGennaro who teaches at Peoples Elementary School in Georgia is. She shared why AI is important in her SCREAM Lab. SCREAM stands for science, computing, robotics, engineering, artificial intelligence, and math. Her students use technology to interact with others around the world to solve real-world problems in their community an beyond. She has used empathy-based engineering and AI to solve these problems. April also was a participant in the ISTE U Artificial Intelligence Course.

Educator Voice

Patricia J. Brown, a tech specialist for Ladue School District explains why we need to start hearing more stories about education from educators. She knows first hand. When she first enlisted in the ISTE and TED masterclass, she didn't know what story she had to offer the world. It didn't take long for her to figure that out and then share her powerful story on the ISTE stage in 2018. You can check it out in the video below.

If you want to find your story to share, check out the ISTE and TED masterclass. You have until July 2 to apply.

Digital Citizenship: Student Style

Curran Dee explains how to be a digcit kid: 1) share your voice with the world 2) solve problems and create solutions 3) empower other kidsDr. Marialice B. F. X. Curran and her twelve year old child, Curran Dee explained the importance of including students in the digital citizenship conversations, lessons, and use even before they are 13 years old.

Dr. Curran explained that she and her son have a joint social media account. They use social media side by side so that when he turns 13 he will have the tools and guidance necessary to be successful. 

Curran Dee, Dr. Curran's son, explained that to learn about the digital world, kids need to be in it. He says instead of telling us what not to do, adults should help kids change headlines by turning negatives into positives. Curran provides advice for how kids can be responsible digital citizens by sharing their voice, solving problems and creating solutions, and empowering other kids. 

Dr. Curran explained that what should be trending in social media is the learning that happens in the classroom.

This duo serve as the global connectors behind DigCitInstitute, DigCitSummit and DigCitKids. You can check out their mother and son story, DigCitKids: Lessons Learning Side-by-Side, to Empower Others Aroundthe World.

Keep an eye out for their upcoming joint campaign with ISTE: #DigCitCommit

Digital Equity

The importance of digital equity was explained by Dr. Nicole R. Howard, assistant professor at the school of education at the University of Redlands and Dr. Sarah Thomas, regional tech coordinator in Prince George's County Public Schools. Both are members of the ISTE digital equity network.

They explained the importance of hearing from the voices that need to be heard and the power we now have to share those voices. A useful resource is the COSN Digital Equity Tookit.

Dr. Thomas shared some strategies to provide digital equity such as:

  • Homework hotspots
    • Have a map of internet hotspots around the community
  • Low-cost broadband programs
    • Search for ones like EveryoneOn that exist in your community
  • Mobile hotspots and devices
    • Search for programs like the 1 Million Project that provide mobile hotspots and devices.
  • School bus wifi
    • In communities where students spend a lot of time on a bus, consider using a company like Kajeet to provide internet access during the commute.
  • Schools as wireless hubs
    • Some schools are using LTE technology to push internet access to their community.
  • Digital Equity PLN

Your turn

What do you think? Is Culatta right? Are these the trends of the year? What do you think is missing?

    Sunday, June 23, 2019

    Esports: The Down & Dirty Stats for Educators - Live from #ISTE19

    If you want to know about the next big thing in ed tech, you should know about esports. 
    Presenter speaking about esports. Slide of a stadium with the words: An estimated 518 million people will watch esports in 2020.
    Here are takeaways from the "Esports in Education: Everything You Wanted to Know" session hosted by Microsoft that took place at #ISTE19. 

    The Stats

    Future ready skills

    Improvements in:

    • Attention
    • Problem solving
    • Digital literacy
    • Technology fluency
    • Math achievement

    School Success

    • Students who play esports are know to have:
    • Increased attendance
    • Increased participation in school activities
    • Decreased at-home game play
    • Increased GPA

    College Scholarship Opportunities

    Hundreds of colleges provide scholarships for esports athletes. Currently there are more than 16 million dollars in scholarships.

    STEM Interest

    Video game playing is positively correlated with interest in STEM Fields. Esports are approved.

    There Is A Curriculum

    The High School Esports League has a curriculum and you can access it at

    Career Readiness

    Students learn about platform technologies, databases, big data, and machine learning.

    Accessibility and Inclusion

    All students can participate unlike traditional sports. 

    Social Connections

    Esports are a great way for students to connect.

    Don't know what esports is?

    Esports or electronic sports are a form of competition that happens when people play video games competitively. Just like football players play football together, esports players play video games together. Just like baseball players fill stadiums, so do esport players. It is a one billion dollar industry with more than 500 million people predicted to watch them in 2020. 

    Tuesday, June 18, 2019

    Preparing for #ISTE19 - Advice from the Veterans

    Lisa Nielsen in front of the Amazon Inspire booth at ISTE

    If you’re attending the International Society for Technology Education (ISTE) conference, you'll want to be prepared. Here are a few go-to articles and a few takeaways that will help you get the most out of this, or any learning activity, this summer.

    Angela Maiers reminds us that what’s more important than what it is you plan “to do” is who you want “to be” at ISTE.  She tells us to be...
    ·       prepared
    ·       rememberable
    ·       tactically serendipitous
    ·       reflective
    ·       a sharer
    ·       a question asker
    ·       courageous
    ·       kind
    ·       a learner
    ·       patient
    ·       persistent

    What I like the most in her advice is to be rememberable.

    She says:
    Each time you introduce yourself, you are not just handing them your business card; you are telling them your story. Your introduction is what can make or break a great first impression, so your story needs to be brief, bold, and “rememberable.” Leave them wanting to know more. The key is to stand out for the right reasons; your strengths, your unique talents, and perspectives.

    We should all consider our introduction.

    For this ISTE, I think mine will be this:
    I am working to ensure staff in NYC schools know how to develop content that is inclusive of everyone, including the world’s largest minority group: Those with disabilities, as well as people who speak all languages. Where I work 50% of families speak a language other than English at home.  

    What will yours be?

    This post has helpful tips such as, attend with intention and work the line after keynotes. My favorite piece of advice is a tip about business cards Select four intentions or goals i.e. 1) Accessibility experts 2) Those who use ISTE standards 3) Twitter chat moderators 4) Podcasters.

    Once you’ve selected the four intentions, have each corner represent an intention. Then after you meet the person, fold the appropriate corner. It is possible to have none or all corners folded. This will give you a quick way to visually see and sort your cards. You should also consider writing a quick note on the back with anything that is important to remember or follow up actions.
    The article points out that 1967 was the year educational computing was born. It was the year Alan Kay gave birth to the concept of a ‘laptop’ computer for kids, which he sketched on a flight back to the US after working with Jean Piaget, Seymour Papert, and some young students.  In 1967, Kay wasn’t simply thinking of his ‘laptop’ as a new medium of expression, or way of doing things more efficiently. Rather he saw it as a place where young people could create and explore new, powerful ideas. Where they could do things that were simply not previously possible, at levels of complexity never before imaginable. As an instrument whose music is ideas.

    The article challenges ISTE attendees to find more examples of what Kay envisioned and focus less on things like monitoring students, using tech to test prep or deliver instruction.

    What to expect at ISTE19

    Get advice directly from ISTE. Highlights from this article are:
    • Have learning goals
    • Use the right hashtag #ISTE19 and handle @ISTE
    • Dress for comfort (lots of walking) and sometimes cold rooms (bring a sweater)
    Your turn
    These are some of the tips and pieces of advice I like to keep in mind before attending summer learning events like ISTE. What do you think? Are there ideas that resonate with you? Anything missing?

    Sunday, June 9, 2019

    A Guide to Sharing Positive Education Stories in Social Media

    Haben Girma and Lisa Nielsen
    Accessibility Expo 2019
    Haben Girma, the first deaf-blind student to graduate Harvard Law spoke at an Accessibility Expo to a New York City Department of Education audience about the importance of sharing positive disability stories and services available. 

    At the Expo attendees saw amazing work happening in schools with students. If you did not have the opportunity to attend, you don't have a way to find out about what's happening. That's because schools, districts, government agencies, and those who use their services, often can do a  better job of sharing. They forget about sharing their QR codes and hashtags and websites. They forget to celebrate on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat.

    As a result, important stories and services are not widely known. Haben Girma has useful advice for how educators about how they can do a better job of posting positive stories. 

    Girma advises the following:


    • Frame the story in a respectful, positive way. 

    Post accessibly

    • If you're posting a video, make sure the video has captions. 
    • If you're posting a photo, add an alt text.

    You can learn from Girma directly in the video below. You can also find out how she is able to communicate with hearing person communicate. When you visit the video, turn on the captions. You'll see why they are helpful for people with and without disabilities. 

    Want to know more? Check out Girma's Brief Guide to Producing Positive Disability Stories.

    Thursday, June 6, 2019

    #NYCSchoolsTechChat on Our Annual Summit: July 31st

    Logo for the #NYCSchoolsTech Summit on July 31, 2019 at LaGuardia HS | 100 Amsterdam Ave | New York, NY 10023

    During this month's #NYCSchoolsTechChat we will discuss how what we are going to share and learn at this summer’s #NYCSchoolsTech Summit.

    Participants can join us for the chat, then come to our in-person Summit on Wednesday, July 31st.The Summit is free to educators.  You can visit the #NYCSchoolsTech Summit site to register and get more information.

    #NYCSchoolTech teacher Eileen Lennon moderates with me (Lisa) throwing in my two cents. 

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

    Q1 Let’s get newcomers excited. What advice do you have for newbies? What makes the trip worth it? Refresh your memory. See past workshops at  #NYCSchoolsTechChat

    Q2 At the #NYCSchoolsTech Summit you get to connect with vendors f2f. Who do you want to talk to? What do you want to learn? #NYCSchoolsTechChat

    Q3 What are you most excited about learning at this year’s #NYCSchoolsTech Summit? #NYCSchoolsTechChat

    Q4 We want you to submit poster sessions! What are you doing in the classroom that could be a poster session? #NYCSchoolsTechChat

    Q5 What is something you immediately put into practice after last years #NYCSchoolsTech Summit or hope to learn at this year’s Summit? #NYCSchoolsTechChat  

    Q6 Go into those archives and share some photos from last year’s #NYCSchoolsTech Summit. #NYCSchoolsTechChat  

    Chat details are below:
    Date: Thursday, June 6
    Time: 7:00 pm
    Topic: #NYCSchoolsTech Summit
    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.