Tuesday, August 31, 2010


It's so important to maintain a positive mental attitude and always strive to be the best person that you can be. I feel sorry for people that thrive on negativity and operate with malice in their heart. Those people will never have access to the awesome power of goodness. Keep an open mind, love with all of your heart, and smile as you better the lives of family, friends, and perfect strangers through random acts of kindness. P.M.A. ALL DAY!

Monday, August 23, 2010


"It is in changing that things find purpose."  - Heraclitus

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Chris Lehmann is an edu-rockstar! His passion and enthusiasm for education is contagious and needs to spread to as many teachers, students, learners, thinkers, and dreamers as humanly possible. The 21st century education model is coming into form because of educators and innovators like Chris Lehmann. SXSW would be an awesome venue for Chris Lehmann to share ideas about the future of education and promote 21st century learning. Do education a great service and vote for him as a presenter. Thanks!


I grabbed Chris Lehmann's presentation description from the SXSW Panel Picker website. Check it out!

Building School 2.0: Creating the Schools We Need

Chris Lehmann, Science Leadership Academy

SXSW explores the ways social media has profoundly changed nearly every facet of society from government to commerce to dating and friendship. Despite incredible societal change, K-12 education has remained largely unchanged. Every day, students leave their smartphones and laptops at the schoolhouse door. As a result, students, parents and teachers feel a powerful disconnect between the time students spend in school and the lives they live outside of it. If school is to remain a vital piece of young people's lives - and our society - it must evolve to help students thrive in our changing world. This is the notion behind School 2.0. But what will these new schools look like? What are the philosophical ideas that form it? How can we marry the best of what we know about teaching and learning with the use of 21st Century tools to create schools that are engaging, caring, and relevant places of learning for everyone involved? The story of the Science Leadership Academy, a progressive, inquiry-driven, project-based 1:1 laptop public high school will frame this presentation. Conceived as a partnership between the School District of Philadelphia and The Franklin Institute, SLA is considered to be one of the pioneers of the School 2.0 movement and has been recognized as an Apple Distinguished School in 2009 and 2010 and has been written about in many publications including the Philadelphia Inquirer, Edutopia Magazine and EdWeek.

  1. How must schools innovate to prepare students for a changing world?
  2. What is the role of social media in school?
  3. What are the pressures on schools that keep them from changing?
  4. How can we marry the best of what we know about teaching and learning with the use of 21st Century tools to create schools that are engaging, caring, and relevant places of learning for everyone involved?
  5. What can non-educators do to help change schools?


Friday, August 20, 2010


100 reasons why you should use blogs - 

Courtesy of OnlineDegrees.Org

(via @21stprincipal)

For students:
1. Blogs are fun! Many of your students likely already keep a personal blog. Using a blog in the classroom will help students relate to the lesson.
2. They help students develop and hone their writing skills.
3. They model forms and standards of writing for students. Show them what good writing looks like vs. bad writing. Talk about style, tone, and usage. Blogs are an oasis of free writing samples.
4. Blogs can stand in as online student journals for a variety of classroom modules.
5. Blogs can increase the sense of community and camaraderie amongst classmates.
6. They can be used to help students understand appropriate online sources. Show students how to evaluate blogs for their authority, credibility and usefulness.
7. When used for group work, they can foster collaboration and team-building skills.
8. They can help promote and develop reading skills.
9. They provide another outlet for different styles of learning. Blogs help students who learn through hands-on work and are more verbally oriented.
10. Blogs can be used to encourage discussion anytime — whether in or outside of class.
11. Students can use blogs to develop online portfolios of their work.
12. In large classes, blogs can be used to create smaller groups and to form more cohesive units even while in class.
13. Most students now are digital natives. Blogs engage them by presenting material in a way that is familiar and comfortable.
14. Students have a larger audience when they blog. If the blog is public, they are potentially writing for a global audience. This knowledge may empower them and their work.
15. Blogs allow for self-directed learning. If they are assigned as independent or homework projects, students can work on them when they feel inspired to do so.
16. They allow for multimedia interaction. Students can post pictures, videos, links, and more.
17. Students can hone their editing skills by critiquing the work of others.
18. Parents can view their child’s work and progress as shown on a blog.
19. Blogs can model rules of behavior for online interaction, teaching students online etiquette.
20. Students can take pride in their work since blog creation reflects their independent efforts.
21. Working online fosters a sense of global interaction. Students can be taught to understand the dangers and the benefits of interacting online and producing work online.
22. As an independent project, blogs allow students to showcase their independence and sense of responsibility.
23. Blogs save paper.
24. Blogs provide a virtual announcement board for important messages about homework, assignments, deadlines, and more.
25. Students can communicate with their teachers and other students through a blog. This is especially helpful for shy students who might not otherwise reach out.
26. Teachers can communicate with parents directly and as a group through blogs.
27. They provide an outlet for students who are shy.
28. Blogs give students the chance to express their creativity in academic ways.
29. Students can work on collaborative writing projects through blogs.
30. They prepare students for online social networking.
31. Blogs help students understand how to build an online presence.
32. They help increase student confidence levels by giving them self-directed projects.
33. Work is permanently stored on a blog. Students can review their work — theoretically — for years to come. Blog space can be obtained for free, and so long as the teacher doesn’t remove the content, it will remain there.
34. Students can determine the topic of posts on blogs, making them more inspired and excited to participate.
35. If blogs are used as reading material, students can choose the type and style of blog that appeals to them, making them more excited about reading.
36. Blogs can teach students the proper use of citation — especially of hyperlinks.
37. Blogs can be used to teach students about plagiarism. There are numerous examples of how easy online content makes it to plagiarize.
38. Students can express their own opinions — and, therefore, their identities — through blogs. It gives them more freedom than traditional academic outlets.
39. They offer supplemental reading or exercises for a particular course of study. Students can use them to gain a deeper understanding of a subject.
40. Students can hone their analytical skills through critique of blogs or development of their own.
41. They give students an outlet for ideas or comments that may have occurred to them after an in-class discussion has ended.
42. Blogs will help students widen their vocabulary.
43. Blogs will help students improve their grammar.
44. Students will be able to improve their persuasive writing skills, specifically.
45. Blogs can help students establish themselves as “experts” on a given topic.
46. Blogs give students a space for process-based learning. They don’t have to include the finished project. They can be there for drafts, free writing and more.
47. Students can use blogs as a space to brainstorm ideas and get feedback on their ideas from other classmates.
48. Teachers have a wide variety of reading materials and writing samples instantly available during class.
49. Many authoritative agencies and authors maintain blogs about their subject interest. These offer valuable tools and insights for classroom discussion.
50. Blogs are relevant!
For teachers:
51. Blogs offer a community of experts to offer advise, share tips, and commiserate over experiences.
52. Teachers can build their professional learning network through blogs by connecting with other experts and learning about new tools in their field.
53. Blogs can highlight professional experience and build the reputation of an educator.
54. Blogs can be used as a forum to vet classroom ideas — including lesson plans, activities, and curriculum.
55. Teachers can learn more about Web 2.0 tools and become more comfortable and familiar with them through the practice of writing a blog.
56. Blogs can serve as a sounding board to vent frustrations in the classroom or in the working environment.
57. Education news and trends can be gleaned from reading blogs.
58. Blogs highlight valuable resources that educators can use both in and out of the classroom.
59. Blogs help you meet people you wouldn’t otherwise be able to meet.
60. They increase accountability for the teacher and the school by making the classroom process more transparent.
61. The increased transparency will build trust and rapport with parents and the community.
62. Blogs can teach educators about online etiquette.
63. Blogs prepare educators for other forms of social networking.
64. They make teachers aware of current events and trends that are important to students — especially pop culture.
65. Blogs help educators remain flexible and adaptable. They are a new medium/technology for many, and learning how to maintain one requires learning new skills.
66. They allow educators to initiate discussions that are meaningful and relevant to them.
67. Blogs offer a sense of community among educators — or even among those within a particular institution.
68. Blogs give teachers a forum to share unconventional ideas that may not have had a hearing in more traditional outlets.
69. Educators can use blogs to publish works that may have been rejected by traditional publishers.
70. Private blogs can offer a useful space for reflection and process-based work.
71. Just like students, educators can use blogs to improve their writing skills.
72. Blogs can be used to facilitate classroom discussion.
73. Teachers can post questions or assign a discussion thread through a blog.
74. Blogs can be used to host classroom competitions.
75. Teachers can highlight a “student of the week” or “student of the month” on a blog, giving the student more exposure and the award more prestige.
76. Prizes and other special mentions can be advertised through a blog.
77. A school or college can use a blog as a community roundtable — highlighting events, hosting discussions, and posting useful information.
78. Blogs can offer a space for teachers to post additional comments or questions that may have been overlooked during a lesson — or only considered after class ended.
79. Writing a blog gives educators a way to relate to students.
80. Blogs offer a space for teachers to be more creative with their content.
81. Personal blogs — or professional blogs that include personal information about the teacher — give students a way to get to know the teacher better.
82. Blogs give teachers more autonomy, allowing them more possibilities for their lessons, including podcasts, videos, photos and more.
83. Blogs serve as a professional calling card. Teachers can use them to supplement an application or a push for a promotion.
84. Blogs can help teachers build up a reputation within a subject area that is not their area of specialty. For instance, if an English teacher wants to do more work with history, he or she can write and publish research through a blog to build up credentials in that subject area.
85. Blogging can motivate teachers to do more. If a blog has a following, then the writer will feel compelled to update often with valuable content.
86. If the content is compelling enough — or has enough professional value — blogs can help teachers get noticed and potentially land a book deal.
87. Publishing content to the Web makes you more aware of the quality of your product (be they lesson plans, articles for journals, etc.).
88. Blogs provide a space for educators to share articles or other papers before publication in order to get feedback or even editing help.
89. Blogs can provide a record of what was done in class. Can’t remember how you handled this section last year? Check your blog.
90. Blogs can be used to track attendance if students are required to participate in daily discussions, etc.
91. Blogs foster objectivity if teachers use them to grade student participation. There is a physical record of the breadth and depth of the content that students contribute — rather than trying to remember what they said in class or how often they raised their hands.
92. Blogs give teachers more time. Sometimes, not everything can be fit into the lesson plan, and homework can’t stand in for instruction. Teachers can use blogs to post further instruction, additional supporting materials, and more.
93. Blogs give teachers another way to connect with students. Inspirational notes, words of encouragement, and advice can all be shared with students through a blog.
94. Teachers can model professional behavior online for students through blogs.
95. Teachers can use blogs to teach students about other cultures, and to connect students with their peers in other countries.
96. Teachers can use classroom or professional blogs to supplement their evaluation materials. They are a handy written record of yearly activity.
97. Blogs can be used to make last minute or emergency announcements to students or parents.
98. Blogs offer you the freedom to say what you want — but still not without consequences:)
99. Blogs offer unique opportunities for assessment and evaluation of students.
100. Everyone else is doing it. Really. If you’re not blogging, it almost seems as if you’re behind the times and aren’t tuned it to what’s relevant to students and to other educators.


RSA Animate - 21st Century Enlightenment


Monday, August 16, 2010

THE LECTURE IS DEAD. LONG LIVE THE LECTURE! A Workshop by Patrick Higgins (8/20/10)

 A Workshop by Patrick Higgins (8/20/10)

9:00-9:45am What WE can do
9:50-10:30am Group Breakout
10:40-11:20am Dog and Pony Show
11:20-12:00pm What THEY can do
12:10-12:40pm Presentation Redesign
12:40-1:00pm Sharing and Feedback

DEPENDENCY ON TECHNOLOGY - Are you or your students stuck on the escalator? video
 We need digital rehab. People should use technology, not abuse technology. If used appropriately, the technology available to teachers and students should broaden and enhance learning opportunities. However, developing a dependency on the technology will only result in limited creativity in the classroom and ultimately handicapped learning environments. What happens when the system goes down? Does the learning turn off as well? Our students must crawl before they walk, walk before they run, and know how to walk up stairs before they take the escalator.

 Students will remember your content and the information that you present to them if you deliver the content with a level of passion and enthusiasm for the topic that truly sticks and resonates with them.

THE RIGHT FAMILY LEFT FOR A VACATION <--- This was a fun activity with markers and a cool way of testing listening skills!


Takahashi Method - Takahashi uses basic symbols in huge fonts; black text on white background OR white text on black background to make the big ideas stand out and stick with the audience. Check out some videos to learn more about Takahashi! Videos: 1 2 3
Purpose of the Method: Make the presentation simple for students to disseminate main points and important information.

Seth Godin Method - Godin uses sarcasm, irony, and shock value to stir up thinking in his audience, thus, making the information presented more memorable. Check out Seth's Blog!
Purpose of the Method: Make the presentation interesting so that the main themes and essential information sticks.

Lawrence Lessig - "Think Takahashi, but in English"; succinct, clean, and well-rehearsed. Check out Lawrence Lessig on TEDxNYED!
Purpose of the Method: Make the presentation comical and intriguing to maintain interest and generate understanding.


 Patrick told us all about Google Lit Trips, which I found extremely fascinating and useful. I definitely plan on using this free web program during the course of this school year, and I think you should too! You'll have to become familiar with Google Earth, but if you play with it for a few hours you'll gain a pretty good grasp on how to use it. Google Lit Trips is one of the coolest web programs that I have ever seen and it will make your lessons much more lively and geographically


Explore each rule through illustrations, charts and video. These tutorials are designed to reinforce the concepts in the book; we recommend reading the corresponding chapter first.

Rule #1: Exercise boosts brain power.

Rule #2: The human brain evolved, too.

Rule #3: Every brain is wired differently.

Rule #4: We don't pay attention to boring things.

Rule #5: Repeat to remember.

Rule #6: Remember to repeat.

Rule #7: Sleep well, think well.

Rule #8: Stressed brains don't learn the same way.

Rule #9: Stimulate more of the senses.

Rule #10: Vision trumps all other senses.

Rule #11: Male and female brains are different.

Rule #12: We are powerful and natural explorers.











This was an awesome workshop, but don't believe me, check it out for yourself using the links provided:

The lecture is dead
View more presentations from Patrick HIggins.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Is there a better price than FREE when it comes to music?


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Best Tools For Cutting-Out & Saving Portions Of Online Videos (Or Annotating Them) - Courtesy of Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Tools For Cutting-Out &#038; Saving Portions Of Online Videos (Or Annotating Them)

Beyond the Three ‘R’s! The 21st century school is a caring learning community.

I think it is important, if not essential, that all educators read this list prior to entering their classroom at the start of the school year. Then, review it as many times as necessary to remember its creed. The 21st century learning environment does not reflect the design or ideals of traditional education. It's necessary that we understand the new model and how to use it effectively within our own classroom. This is a checklist to keep you focused on what is truly important in 21st century education.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Patrick Higgins Workshop - Thinking Behind the Writing 8/6/2010

 Today, I had the great opportunity of exploring the world of 21st century education with Patrick Higgins (@pjhiggins). His workshop, Thinking Behind the Writing, was very powerful and provided for a great professional development opportunity for all involved. I wish there were more leaders in education like Patrick, possessing great enthusiasm for technology, knowledge of content, and the ability to communicate the essential nature of our goals as teachers. I FEEL INSPIRED! He is a great presenter and I encourage all of you to look into any workshop dates at which he is presenting, subscribe to his blog (Chalkdust101), and follow him on Twitter (@pjhiggins).

HERE I HAVE LISTED MY TWEETS DURING THE WORKSHOP (all of which contain links to valuable tools and resources):

I'm at a Patrick Higgins (@pjhiggins) workshop learning about the Culture of Availability by Renny Gleeson via @tedtalk http://bit.ly/... #camdenwriting1

"I think we're in the midst of a literacy revolution..." -A.Lunsford ---> Clive Thompson on the New Literacy  http://bit.ly/9j3XV0  @pjhiggins #camdenwriting1

@pjhigginsis showing us how Shelly Blake-Plock (@teachpaperless) provides feedback on writing An Example of Jing Used to Comment On Student Work Online #camdenwriting1

Live Writing for Real Audiences via @pjhiggins http://bit.ly/9YY6lx...  #camdenwriting1

Patrick Higgins shared an article with us on Mt Olive and their elimination of the D letter grade. Then, he had us create a Google Doc expressing our views on it. Check out my Google Doc!
I created this survey using Google Forms while we were in session at Patrick Higgins' Thinking Behind the Writing Workshop today. I encourage all of you to take the survey. Your responses are greatly appreciated!

Patrick used TodaysMeet to facillitate and record our conversation at the workshop. You can access the full transcript of what was said by clicking the link provided.

Monday, August 2, 2010

21st Century Performing Arts Summer Theatre Program 2010

 As a teacher, I am not afraid to say that I look forward to the summer. Everyone needs a break, right? Everyone needs to get away. I love to get away, not just away from school, but away from it all. I love to travel. My heart yearns for new lands and new people. I am passionate about freedom and discovery.

 Yet, what I have discovered about myself over the past few years is that I do not look forward to the summer because of any form of vacation or break. I keep busy all summer long. In fact, my work during the summer months, particularly July, rivals that of the 10-month school year.

 I have been blessed by the good graces of Tony DePrince, project coordinator for Camden County Technical Schools, and the 21st Century Program (we're the only high school in the state with this amazing grant) with the opportunity to share my love for the craft of acting and performance with students through Drama Club. Drama Club serves as an extension of the Performing Arts Academy, which is headed by Terry Bles, a spectacular teacher and enthusiast for acting, singing, dancing, and overall performance. Ryan Hewitt is the music teacher in the Performing Arts Academy, whom is extremely gifted and teaches his students with great fervor and passion how to use various instruments, including vocals, and it is predicted that sometime in the near future he might have his own program to head up; perhaps a Music Academy? One can only hope. Both have brought new life to the arts at Camden County Technical School. Of course, the extraordinary efforts of Tony DePrince have made much of this possible. He is truly the backbone of the arts at our school and in our district. Without him, I doubt much of what we do would be possible. One might even venture to say that without him, CCTS would be without the arts. He has meant that much to the growth and development of the arts.

 During the school year, the Performing Arts Academy along with Drama Club engage in various productions. This year we explored World War II, highlighted through 2 very different plays. Our first major production of the 2009-2010 was our fall play, THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK. For the spring musical, we returned to the battlefield with a much different play in our production of CABARET. We like to maintain a thematic approach to our selection of shows. Both productions were sell-outs and people actually submitted complaints about not being able to purchase tickets. Hopefully this will not be a problem in the future, since DePrince has waved his magic wand once again and magically afforded us the construction of our very own black box theatre. Next year's first show is a murder mystery and it will open the black box as the new venue for CCTS theatrical productions.

 We heart the arts! Thus, our productions are not limited to the 10-month school calendar. We have the 21st Century Performing Arts Summer Theatre Program to keep us engulfed in creative endeavors. During the month of July, I was deeply entrenched in the 21st Century Summer Theatre Program with Terry Bles, Ryan Hewitt, and Tony DePrince. For this year's summer production we selected to follow the yellow brick road and try our stage hand with the beloved classic, THE WIZARD OF OZ. The show performances were this past weekend and the kids did an excellent job, so the efforts of all involved were rewarded.

 This musical is perhaps one of the most popular of all time, so we knew that expectations would be high. When we initially decided to set our sights on OZ as the sophomore production of the 21st Century Summer Theatre Program and opt to “follow the yellow brick road” with a group of about 40 CCTS high school students from both Gloucester Township and Pennsauken campuses, we had a good understanding of the task that lie before us. THE WIZARD OF OZ is a big show. We didn’t have to worry about any witches, but there were certainly obstacles that we had to look out for. We might have been missing some parts essential to the production of the show, but luckily we had the nerve, the brains, and the heart to follow through with it. The end result was something just as magical and breathtaking as the Emerald City. We had a blast working with the students this summer. Watching the students grow and develop as performers is always truly awe-inspiring. The students are the ones that make it all worthwhile, and this production was a reflection of their talent and a credit to their hard work and dedication to the performing arts.

 As with any theatrical production, there were many people whom lent a helping hand to support the arts. These good people, consisting of parents, siblings, and loved ones of the cast and crew, made themselves available to do work on set, serve as customer service representatives during performances, and simply aid and assist in such a variety of ways during production. Without their help and support, we would have never made it to OZ.

 I guess, like Dorothy, most teachers want to get away because they believe that the summer grass is greener (and some of it is!), but at the end of August, we remember where our home is and our brain, our heart, and our courage lead us right back to the classroom.