Three years ago tomorrow, a group of Florida educators that had never met in person, breathed live into an old hashtag in order to connect educators across the state of Florida. I, for one, can say that it seems like #FLedChat has always been a part of my life. Almost every Wednesday night for the past three years, I could be found on Twitter. It is my passion to help others realize the value in connecting and building a network of educators that support your classroom.

The ripples that have emerged from the idea that teachers want to connect has become a valuable time for many across our state. I have met so many amazing people helping our students become active learners. I can’t imagine a better way to spend my free time. If you have time, check out the hashtag #FLedChat, favorite a tweet or two and let your own wave start forming.

Google Classroom Tip #GAFE


Even though my students can find their grades on other pages inside Google classroom, I have begun posting this under the assignments as I have finished grading them. This lets my students (and I) know I have already seen all of the work they’ve given me.

This helps me remember which assignments I’ve already gone through. It makes it much easier to determine which assignments I need to look at again in case someone has turned in late work.

Learning Without Failing

There are many educators today that promote the idea of “Failing Forward”. They seem to believe that the only way to move forward is to make failing a part of the common vocabulary. I call horse pucky on that. 

Why are we setting our students up for failure in the first place? Shouldn’t we, as educators, be intelligent enough to know BEFORE an assessment if a student is ready? If he/she isn’t ready, why are we pushing him/her to take it? When did we stop being professionals and start putting a pacing guide before the needs of our students?

Let’s celebrate the successes. Let’s be encouragers when mistakes happen. But please, let’s stop creating a culture that tells our future adults that failure is necessary to be successful. That just isn’t true. 

Failure is the act of giving up. When one doesn’t get the outcome one desires, it isn’t failure. It’s just a different outcome. Despite what Michael Jordan is quoted to have said, he didn’t fail. He struggled to succeed. Had he failed, he would not have been THE Michael Jordan we all know today. Thomas Edison didn’t fail to make the light bulb all those times. He was testing hypotheses. That is a successful scientific method. 

Students that “fail” should feel bad. Let’s help them learn how to use those emotions as motivation to jump back in and try again. That’s not a celebration; that’s our job as educators. 

My 22nd Edcamp #Edcamp #EduMatch

Today I attended what I think is my 22nd edcamp. Today was the second Edcamp EduMatch. It was conducted using the MIT Unhangout service. This service organizes Google Hangouts so people can meet in a virtual arena and share ideas around the world. This particular Edcamp was hosted by the EduMatch Network of educators.

I am honored to be a part of the organizational team. Under the direction of Sarah Thomas (@SarahdaTeechur), along with Amanda Rogers (@The EdsaneT), Shelly Stout (@TheOddCentricT) and Renee Henderson (@MsReneeScience) we were able to bring educators together for a variety of topics. The sessions I attended included Computer Science for All, Edcamps for Students by Students, and a great session on Student Voice. Videos of these sessions are available on YouTube. I’m sure Sarah will have them on a play list soon. (I’ll update this later.)

One of the unique things this particular Edcamp had was a list of challenges. Teachers were challenged to earn their swag. I really liked this idea. In fact, this blog post covers one of those challenges. (I hope I win something cool.)

If you get a chance to experience this type of Edcamp, I hope you take the time to do so. For those of you that don’t want to be recorded, I want to encourage you to overcome that fear. You are an amazing educator. None of us are perfect. But, if you can’t get over it, you can always turn off your camera so we can just hear you. Your input is very important.

I’m off to try to complete some of the other challenges. I hope I see you in the future at another edcamp!

Superior Tech for Teachers 2016

I have just returned from three days in Clearwater, Florida. The Plato Academy and Nik Chatzopoulos (@chatzopoulosn) organized the second Superior Tech for Teachers. When I arrived, I was greeted by friends. Many Florida educators from my PLN were in attendance both as presenters and participants.

I will say I had a grand time. It is always great to connect with your PLN face to face. There were great sessions every where I turned. Even when I didn’t go to a session, I learned a lot. I have new plans for my classroom. Thanks to a chance conversation with Pat La Morte (@TechedPrincipal) at lunch, I have a new floor plan to try out for next year to give us more space. There was so much. Check it out for yourself, here.

#FLedChat even announced its newest additions to the team. Kim Martin-Howell (@kmhmartin) joined the Moderating team and Dene Gainey (@dene_gainey) became the voice of #FLedChat on our Voxer group. I am very excited about the direction the #FLedChat team is going.

This was the first of several conference for me this summer. I expect I will learn more than I ever thought possible. This should be fun.

Evernote and Google

Evernote and Google recently announced they are working together. (See the announcement here.) Now you will be able to include files from your Google Drive into your Evernote Notes. Right now, this is only available for Android and web users (Chrome browser only). Sorry, iOS folks.

After signing up to Beta test the partnership, I can tell you I am pretty pleased. Once I connected my Google Drive, it was simple to bring in files while using the web version on my Chrome browser. When you click the Google “triangle”, the default is “all files”. You can immediately use the Google search bar to find your file. You can also change to folders, music, photos, etc. It was quite easy to do.

The Android app was a little more difficult, but mainly because I didn’t see the Google symbol. On my phone (Samsung s5), I used the paperclip to link to files. The default was to my camera. I have 3 Google accounts on my phone. Once I chose the account I wanted, there came my folders just like expected.

I am looking forward to getting back into my Evernote account. I think this is a great partnership.

Edcamp Branford, April 23, 2016

EdcampBranford 3.pngEdcamp Branford 2016 occurred yesterday at Branford High School in Branford, Florida. It was attended by just over 60 educators and students interested in learning, connecting and sharing. It was an awesome day. If you haven’t experienced an edcamp, I encourage you to find one. You can learn more about them here. If there isn’t one in your area, I urge you to start one.

Something new for us this year was a Geo-filter for Snapchat. A geo-filter is a photo/video overlay that is specific to a location. This year we were using Snapchat to create our story. A Snapchat story is a collection of videos and photos taken throughout a twenty-four hour period. The Snapchat story was created by one of our students. She was given very specific instructions and followed them carefully. How do you think she did? (Snapchat Story)

Our event started officially at 8:00 am. However, there were people waiting to check in well before that. Many of the participants had not attended an edcamp before yesterday. Their willingness to try something new fueled my own excitement. Before long the room was full of conversation. Suggestions for sessions started pouring in. It was clear this group came to learn. Even the students got into the action. You can find the session board and links to information shared on the Edcamp Branford website.

Participants came from as far away as Washington DC and as near as a couple of blocks away. One thing that was clear. Everyone in attendance was eager to get started.

From Growing your PLN to Lyrical Lessons to the Student Led sessions, Edcamp Branford was truly an experience created by the participants for the participants. I am excited to see what happens next.