Educational Networks

NCCE ’17 Review – People Inspiration

Attending and presenting at NCCE this year was a most awesome, information packed, technology infused, and energized event. Over the course of the conference my colleagues quickly shared our thoughts about sessions over Slack, a super easy team building and sharing app. We gained so many ideas for technology, curriculum, learning, networking, and most of important of all, we gained inspiration to continue striving to be awesome educators.

My takeaways for NCCE were mainly threefold, which I will divide into parts over 3 blogs:

  • Part 1 – People who inspire us to do more in the classroom
  • Part 2 – Technology ideas that inspire our curriculum
  • Part 3 – Network of educators who give us confidence to foster higher aspirations for our students

People Inspiration

The NCCE 2017 Keynote speakers were amazingly inspiring, encouraging us to think differently to do more in the classroom.

Jaime Casap, Education Evangelist at Google: ” I believe education disrupts poverty.”

Jamie spoke about the impact of education, stating the impact on students goes on for generations. He reminded us that our national super power was built on the backbone of education. Hearing clearly and concisely “Education is not broken,” was inspiring to hear, especially considering today’s propensity for education bashing by the public.

Jamie also made us think about revising our educational perspective, asking the question, “what is the right path to prepare for a future that doesn’t exist yet?” Today’s generation is not necessarily different, but rather it is how they think about learning that IS different. Simply put, a generation or two ago students waited to be taught. However, today’s generation doesn’t need to wait, they think of learning as a part of their daily routine. Just watch a student pull up a YouTube video to figure out a game or an app. It just may be that we, as educators, need to think about learning differently too.NCCE keynote 1

By now we are all familiar with how rapidly technology changes and updates. There was a time that computers were as large as a classroom and the focus was on teaching basic programming skills. Now we look at data (from much smaller computers) and we need to compare what good learning looks like. Our questions today center around how to implement tech, how embedded tech can help students understand concepts, and how to teach computational thinking and skills to solve problems.

Jamie made us laugh in reflection, reminding us that a few years ago we might have gotten a busy signal when we called someone. If we juxtapose that idea into today’s lingo, we can see how our thinking has changed “I tried to call the internet today and it was busy.” It is important that education is iterative, that we understand what good learning looks like, and we understand how learning will change. So we ask ourselves, do we have the best educational model for our students? If yes, we are on the path to meeting the essential goal of education.

Kevin Carroll, founder of Kevin Carroll Katalyst/LLC, author, speaker, and agent for social change.

Kevin’s keynote focused on story tellers. “Story tellers are powerful, each of us has a narrative.” Kevin illustrated by telling us a powerful story of his youth, family, and life lessons. He shared that he learned that curiosity and play are important in life, finding his sanctuary on the playground with a red ball. He also found sanctuary in the library, which fostered his curiosity for learning. A ball, play, catalyst, connection, and community were the key words of his story.NCCE keynote 2

He spoke of his connections with his community, including his grandparents, highlighting a couple of life gems: First, playing is an important virtue, aptly supported by Plato’s observation that “you can discover more about a person in an hour of play than a year of conversation.” Second, he grew up with, “lots of talkers and doers, which one are you?” An important question from his formative years that shaped his unique way of looking at the world. Listening to Kevin and considering our own connections, community, and pondering our personal catalysts, it was apparent that play and laughter are the change makers for us as educators and for our students.

Play or joyous connections can provide a venue for discussion afterwards, which is when moments with big ideas, innovations, and inspiration can spring forth. Over the course of his story he challenged us to raise our game, to level up. From this conference, or from any life event, we take away new connections, inspire others, and tell the stories. Our ideas and actions matter. Although my actions may seem small, collectively they are great.

In the end, it is always about a DREAM:







*Stay tuned for Part 2 – Technology and Part 3 – Networking.

NCCE 2017 Keynote Bios

Teacher Twitter 101


New to Twitter?  Get Tweeting in 5 Steps.

There is a whole side conversation about teaching and learning on Twitter. Many educators use Twitter to chat, share, and reflect about teaching and learning. There are a multitude of conversations happening involving every aspect of the classroom, some inspirational, some thought provoking, some funny, and some even critical. Following educators and using a content area #hashtag is one of the easiest ways to converse in the Twitter universe.

If you’re interested in joining in the conversation, it is not as daunting as it may seem once you know the basics.

Teacher Twitter 101

  1. Sign up and create a Twitter account Sign up for Twitter – you will need to choose a username. Since Twitter allows for multiple accounts, you can create a personal account first and then a professional or classroom account later.
  2. Add a profile and a picture – these can be updated, so don’t stress about this now.
  3. Write your first Tweet – it can be as simple as “Hello, this is my first tweet.”
  4. Follow others – this is where you begin to connect and learn from others. You can begin with a “who to follow” list, follow a colleague or use a #hashtag for a content area of interest such as #edtech
  5. Reply & Retweet – once you have a few people to follow then jump in and begin a conversation.

To learn more, check out these educator guide to Twitter resources:

New To Twitter – Set up Guides

How to Use Twitter for Teaching and Learning

 Tips for Teachers New to Twitter

Twitter Resources

The Teacher’s Guide To Twitter

Twitter #hashtags Infographic

Cross-classroom collaboration—student scientists as teachers

Sharing a blog for a blog – specifically, sharing my classroom collaboration project as shared on the OneNote Education Office Blog.

I presented this classroom collaboration partnership at the MIEE U.S. Forum in Denver and at a Redefining Learning Conference at Sammamish High School. Watch a short clip here: cross-classroom collaboration demo or see the Sway here: school partnerships Sway on




Telling Our Story

It seems that this year the mantra of education conferences, speakers, and vocal educators is that as educators we need to “tell our story.” I believe we may need to take it one step further: not only do we need to tell our story, we need to celebrate our story and then we need to challenge our story.

Educators are doing amazing things and our students are learning and creating amazing things; unfortunately, however, over the last few years there has been a lot of teacher bashing, so much so that it seems people don’t believe in teaching anymore. This is tragic because almost everyone agrees that we need teachers; and not just teachers, we need amazing teachers. This is why teachers need to “tell our story.” We need to celebrate our story to remind society of the great things that are being done daily in our classrooms. We need to showcase what our students are learning, how they are creating understanding, and why we know we can support their aspirations for the future. We also need to challenge ourselves to be innovative educators. We are teaching to the future: we are preparing our students for careers that haven’t even been thought of yet.

Telling our story is on individual educators and celebrating our story is on the educator community, but to move forward we also need to challenge that story which need to be done through collaboration. Educators need support to take time to get to know their students’ stories to be innovative and creative to best enhance student learning. In many districts this critical support is dwindling into overly large class sizes, mandated or outdated curriculum, or even a lack of technology and training. Yet educators are persevering and building collaborative networks and continually looking for ideas and inspiration to help our students succeed. As educators this is important to all of us, we have the passion to do this, and it is our continual challenge to do so.

Since school let out for summer, I have been building my collaborative educator network with gusto. I was invited to the Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts (MIE Experts) US Forum in Denver where I joined 100 fellow MIE Experts who actively partner on technology development and integrating technology into the classroom. We were celebrated by Microsoft and each other because we are creative, innovative, dedicated to learning from each other. At the forum we shared, talked, played, collaborated, and massively socially networked. We shared our stories and felt cherished. Every teacher should have the opportunity to participate in this type of educational rejuvenation: it is the kick starter for innovation and inspiration for the next school year.

Following Denver, I returned home and jumped in with another educator network, the Partnership for Ambitious Science Teacher Leaders (PASTL) which is just an excuse for a nerd-fest where all of us science teachers chuckle at the joke to “never trust atoms – because they make up everything.” Our task as Ambitious Science Teachers was to develop lesson unit bundles for teachers and students to actively think and scientifically explain a puzzling phenomenon and its corresponding concepts. Just like my MIE Expert collaborative network, science teaching is trending toward building a similar collaborative network among students. The old education norm of the “Three Rs” in a quiet classroom is no longer sufficient; we must challenge ourselves to foster the collaborative environment for our student’s innovation and inspiration that we know as educators. With the innovation and technology we now have at our disposal, it is our job as educators to teach students the skills of how to have a scientific discourse to share their ideas, conceptual thinking, and showcase their problem solving skills both in collaboration with us and with their peers in and out of the classroom.

I am lucky I have had the opportunities to surround myself with educational networks that inspire me to do great things. I believe that the sharing and celebrating of our stories as educators is necessary; we can’t do this alone. But we also need to go beyond just telling our story of the amazing things educators are doing for students’ learning, and so I challenge all educators—and administrators—to actively participate in an educator network. It’s impactful, it’s inspirational, and it’s important to all of us and the forward motion of our story.

Click here for more information MIE Expert

Click here for more information PASTL (Ambitious Science Teaching)