Friday, August 10, 2012


Gaming is not some new idea, but it is of course catching on in schools and Bill Gates is the latest to jump in the ring. I'm not 100% on board with gaming in schools, or Bill Gates in schools for that matter. Read on......

Saturday, August 4, 2012


How many articles or research studies or pleas from children will it take for teachers/principals/schools to change their ways and integrate Relevant Learning and Resources into the school day? For the past couple of years I've really been trying to get away from calling Relevant Learning and Resources..... technology. There really isn't anything technological about using laptops or Google Apps or any of the other thousands of resources out there.

A recent article in the NY Times School Book section addresses what I'm talking about above, read it here.

C'mon......get on it!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Creative Thinking, Big Picture Ideas in School

Now that I'm officially at the helm and also in a new school district, I've been thinking a lot about student learning outcomes and the big picture for my career. I've become an elementary school principal, so I've accomplished a huge goal at a fairly young age. Now what expectations do I have for our teachers/students in my new role?

I'm doing a lot of observing and asking questions as I learn new systems and structures in my new setting.

An article in the NY Times today has re-clicked my thinking about learning outcomes and what is important and what our teachers should focus on and what I should be promoting and focusing on, and what is relevant and rigorous for our children.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Winning Mojo

It's easy and appropriate to grab on the Olympic/sports theme with the games going on in London currently, and sports for me has always been a great motivator and I feel many of the mantras can carry over to education.

I've recently started to read the Harvard Business Review and a great article came through yesterday which made me reflect and think about conversations I was having with teachers throughout the day. 'Ten Reasons Why Winners Keep Winning, Aside From Skill' had some excellent food for thought as we're getting ready for the school year.

My intention from referencing this article is not to say that education is like winning and we're trying to develop winners in the classroom, however many of the same motivational attributes or 'mojo' can really apply.

1. Good mood - positive thinking and a 'winners' attitude go a long way.
2. Learning - winners accept feedback and discuss mistakes
3. Positive culture of mutual respect - not just for staff but most importantly for students, so important!

Read the entire article for the whole list, what characteristics pop out for you!

By the way, great first day at the helm yesterday! My voice was sore from talking so much and mouth was sore from smiling so much, that's good mojo!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


My new district has GAFE (Google Apps for Education)....thankfully, and during a meeting with our 5th grade teachers a couple of weeks ago I brought up the idea of ePortfolios with Google Sites. This of course is not a new idea, but something that hasn't been done at my new school.

 I was coming from the angle of, 'you can have Open House all year long when each student has their own ePortfolio' (Google Site) and a few hours later I got an email from them expressing their excitement of this idea.

All of our 4th-5th grade teachers in my previous position had their students create/update/promote their ePortfolio and the response from parents was amazing. Going through some resources I found this excellent resource for creating ePortfolios and supporting teachers/students in the development.

Again, Google Sites is not the only platform to create an ePortfolio, but in my opinion the easiest and most straightforward, especially if you have GAFE in your district.


As you can see with the title, my blog is going to change a bit. Today is my first 'official' day in which I report as an Elementary School Principal. I've decided to change the blog a bit to address that change, while still incorporating Educational Technology and Professional Development resources. What I'm expecting my first day..... - It's 428am and I'm going in to work at 600am to walk the campus before staff arrives. - I've already moved into my office so I'm at least settled. - Teachers have been emailing about getting their keys, it's August 1st and our first day with kids is August 21st. - Lots of meetings with staff set up for today and the next couple of weeks. - Meeting with parent leaders. - Meeting with district staff. ie: sped, tech, curriculum - We have 400 students and 14 teachers but I'm still expecting to be busy. - Will be calling my former colleague (Principal when I was an AP)to check-in and talk. - Listening, asking questions, supporting, hoping to Raise the Bar throughout the year. Here we go!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

High School Clubs

From the NY Times, this is what we should be offering in our high schools, even middle schools!

Saturday, May 19, 2012


A great infograph on Homeschooling from the Fluency 21 blog, very interesting.

Homeschool Domination
Created by:

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Google Brains

A great article and infograph on the Committed Sardine Blog that I wanted to share, 'Are our brains being boggled by Google.' Of course the internet and search has changed our information stream, what type of long-term effect is/will it have.

Read on....

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

This is 21st Century Learning

The term '21st Century Learning or 21st Century Skills' has been saturated, very much so, in my opinion. I hear the term(s) everywhere.....from teachers, parents, principals, superintendents and what are we all really talking about.

I feel we're addressing the needs of the 21st Century, with building Skills for Academic and Professional Success! We're of course twelve years in to the 21st Century and many mindsets are still stuck in the 90s. You don't need laptops, tablets, smart boards to build Skills for Academic and Professional Success, these skills come in many different forms.

A great article in the NY Times about a middle school in Queens that is having their students engage in a real hands-on project. They're building teamwork skills, collaboration, problem solving, research, contacting local officials, cross referencing their ideas......the skills they learn with this in depth project will no doubt benefit them academically and professionally!

Read the entire article here.....

Monday, May 7, 2012

MIT Video Lessons

So many people (educators and non-educators) are making 'how-to' videos for students and publishing them to YouTube. Of course Khan Academy is the most vast and well known, however smaller entities are popping up with some really great content.

MIT has recently started a program where they encourage their students to create S.T.E.M. videos for K-12 students and post them on their new YouTube channel. As of today they have forty-three videos created and they cover a wide array of topics and are very creative. Check them out for some great Professional Development and maybe you can have your class create a similar project to share.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Harvard and M.I.T.

The NY Times reported today that Harvard and M.I.T. are working together to offer some free online courses. They're calling this edX and will be offering five free courses this fall. Read the entire article here and check out the courses!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

TED - Ed

TED - Ed is a new feature from TED Talks and allows you to use any existing TED Talk and change it around for your use and flip a lesson. Watch the video below for a better explanation, have fun!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Book Recommendation

This book recommendation isn't education related but a really great read! The Camino Chronicles by Susan Alcorn will surely get you excited to travel and also journal about your experiences. There is a recent movie called 'The Way' that is not based off the book, but travels the same path in Spain.

Below is a video from Susan's website that will give you a taste what it's like to walk the Camino. Happy Reading!

Monday, April 23, 2012

GAFE Summit

If you're going to be in California mid-July, check out the Google Apps for Education California Summit. It's being held in Santa Clara on July 12-13th and looks to be a great conference. I'll be in UCLA for a week long colloquium and won't be able to make it, have fun if you can attend!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Preschool - Lots of Articles in the News

Preschool has changed.....the content, the price and now so has the admission process. My wife is always reading on her Lamorinda Mom Blog about the different options, curriculum standards, and some heated conversation about the local options.

The NY Times has had some good articles lately about preschool admission and most recently about some new requirements in order to apply. The 'learning how to play' curriculum is still in use, but it seems falling out of favor!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Education On Air

Google has just announced some great looking Professional Development coming up on May 2nd. Education On Air is an entire day of online workshops and you can see the Conference Schedule here.

I'm excited and will be 'hanging out' online May 2nd!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

21st Century Skills? I say yes!

This video has been going around all week on blogs and some news sites as well. 21st Century Skills don't always include laptops, tablets or SMART boards....this young man shows us exactly that.


Caine's Arcade from Nirvan Mullick on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Mobile Revolution

As always the KQED Mind/Shift blog has great articles to read and very thought provoking ideas for education.

A recent article titled, 'Amidst a Mobile Revolution in School, Will Old Teaching Tactics Work.' The article brought up some really great points and the sheer relevancy of 'old' tactics and ways of teaching. We've reached a point where students won't be able to relate with 'old' teaching styles and we must incorporate relevant strategies in our classrooms and schools.

Enjoy Spring Break!

Thursday, March 15, 2012


I am an obvious fan of the NY Times, especially their education section! An article this morning caught my eye and got me thinking about all of our technology and engaging projects we do with laptops/iPads and other cool gadgets.

The article argues/advocates/references projects that are done with paper, paint, pens, markers....rather than digital projects done with tablets or computers. Students learn about art history and visit museums, however the creation of art in schools is dwindling as funding is drying up.

My opinion, we of course need a balance and there is a place for both 'classic' art projects and current trends. Striking that balance is probably the most difficult challenge we face and needs to be well thought out and planned for our students!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Nonfiction Reading Curriculum - A Little Debate

All administrators in my district read "The Trouble With Boys" last year. We had many discussions in our feeder groups about boys, reading, interest level, nonfiction titles, etc.

There was an interesting article in the NY Times this morning under the SchoolBook column, 'Nonfiction Curriculum Enhanced Reading Skills, Study Says.'

Ten pilot schools were given reading curriculum which focused on nonfiction titles, and when tested after three years, their scores were higher than other schools. Some big names in education chimed in for this article.

E.D. Hirsch and Lucy Calkins were both quoted and the article is worth a read!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

YouTube in the NY Times

There was a great article this morning in the NY Times about YouTube and how it's being used in classrooms. A common image of YouTube is of endless videos that waste time and aren't appropriate for children. YouTube has realized this image concern and create YouTube EDU. YouTube EDU is focused on educational content and filters out all the 'bad' videos that can't be shown in your classroom/school.

Check out YouTube EDU and read the article form the NY Times....happy Saturday!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Stop Stealing Dreams

Seth Godin is a well known educational author and speaker. He's just recently released a new eBook, for free on Google Docs. It's called 'Stop Stealing Dreams' with a subtitle of What is School For.

I haven't read the entire book and am making my way through. It's broken up into different sections so you're able to skip around if needed.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Educational Technology Musing

I wrote this for my school district earlier in the year and wanted to post on the blog....enjoy!

Educational Technology Musings

“The best tool is your creative mentality”

In the following paragraphs, you will find links/resources/ideas and they are meant to be a starting point for a much bigger conversation at your school, department meeting, or among colleagues. Some are for principals, others for teachers, and some may be relevant to us all. In the spirit of collaboration and best intentions for our students, please share with anyone you feel would benefit.

There is much discussion around 2.0 classrooms, outfitting them with the latest interactive boards, laptops/tablets, clicker systems and maybe even being a 1:1 environment. Of all the advocates for a 2.0 classroom, I can assure you my rallying cry is very loud. With that being said, it’s fully acceptable to be ‘on your way’ towards a 2.0 environment. Having a 1.5 classroom/school is in my opinion completely acceptable, and on some levels much more attainable and easier to support. Not every classroom/school needs a 1:1 deployment; 1:2 or 1:many is very common across our country and potentially easier to handle for all stakeholders. Focus on what you already have first, and ensure that it’s being used at full capacity.

A large focus for schools is having the devices for our students to create, explore, play and better understand this digital world in which we live. In my opinion, it’s just as important or even more so, for the staff of each school site to be building their digital framework with the many free tools we have at our disposal. The utilization of Google Apps for staff is very exciting, and opens endless avenues from which we can become more paperless, more collaborative, more efficient, and less reliant on old systems which our students have not grown up with. How can your school grow and develop with this non-student centered approach? Challenge your front offices to utilize these digital tools in new ways each week.

A few ideas….

Create free podcasts with which you can email/embed/tweet and share with your school community in many different ways.

Set your class up with their own blog on, it’s free, easy to use and is bound to expand their writing.

Have your staff/class backchannel on during a staff-meeting, workshop or for a designated time throughout the year. See what your colleagues are thinking during your trip to the CUE conference or while their class is using the new Video Conferencing equipment with another school.

A great article from an excellent online resource. The KQED Mind/Shift blog, How to bring ideas into a low-tech classroom.

If you only have one iPad per classroom, ten laptops for student use across your entire campus, I challenge you to use your creative mentality and maximize their usage. The most qualified experts on these devices are our students, as they have grown up with them and can manipulate them in ways we may not have seen.

The following video link is of Bobby Mc Ferrin, ‘hacking your brain’ and incorporating only a microphone and an entire audience, in a very ‘low-tech’ way. How can you accomplish this level of collaboration at your site with only one Flip camera or just an iPod-touch?

Another great network for Principals or AP’s to continue the 2.0 conversation is, you’ll find resources on Technology Integration, Professional Development, School Culture and much more. Enjoy collaborating and exploring with others!

Additionally, a group of colleagues has begun collaboration on an iPad Learning wiki for all to use. You’ll find app recommendations, classroom ideas, learning links and project ideas. Please explore the site if you have iPads or are hoping to add them, and fill out the linked form to contribute your own app recommendations or ideas.

In conclusion, I leave you with a list compiled from a favorite online resource of mine, Simple K12. My question is, what’s missing from this list and how can we all incorporate best practices in our ever-developing digital world?

Enjoy, and thank you again for reading,

In October 2010, there was a list produced by Simple K12, ’21 Signs You’re a 21st Century Teacher”

1. You require your student to use a variety of sources for their research projects…and they cite blogs, podcats, and interviews they’ve conducted via Skype.
2. Your students work on collaborative projects…with students in Australia.
3. You give weekly class updates to parents….via your blog.
4. Your students participate in class….by tweeting their questions and comments.
5. You ask your students to study and create reports on a controversial topic….and you grade their video submissions.
6. You prepare substitutes with detailed directions…via Podcats.
7. You ask your students to do a character/historical person study and they create mock social medial profiles of their character.
8. Your students create a study guide…working together on a group wiki.
9. You share lessons plans with your teacher friends…from around the globe.
10. Your classroom budget is tight….but it doesn’t matter because there are so many free resources on the web you can use.
11. You realize the importance of professional development….and you read blogs, join online communities and tweet for self development.
12. You take your students on a field trip to the Great Wall of China…and never leave your classroom.
13. Your students share stories of their summer vacation….through an online photo repository.
14. You visit the Louvre with your students…and don’t spend a dime.
15. You teach your students not be bullies…or cyber bullies.
16. You make your students turn in their cell phones before class starts…because you plan on using them in class.
17. You require your students to summarize a recent chapter…and submit it to you via a text message.
18. You showcase your student’s original work…to the world.
19. You have your morning coffee…while checking your RSS feed.
20. You are reading this.
21. You tweet, blog, “like” or email this to someone else….

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

More with Evernote

What can I not say about Evernote......

I use Evernote on my iPhone 4S, MacBook Air, iPad2....I was actually in Lake Tahoe recently and had none of my devices with me. So, I used my wife's MacBook Pro and logged in to and accessed all my notes.

It's free, fast, collaborative, goes across all platforms, and they provide free professional development ideas. Evernote has a great blog, and twitter feed that I recommend everyone should subscribe too. They had a great article in the Education Series yesterday about a teacher in Oregon who has transformed his classroom with creating free portfolios for his entire class.

Read the article here and start your journey!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Excerpts and Thoughts - Finnish Lessons

I tend to read three to four books at a time, so it's taken me a little longer than usual to get through 'Finnish Lesson' by Pasi Sahlberg. The books isn't finished, and I have some chapters/pages bookmarked to go back and read again.....the books is full of amazing examples and details about Finnish education and their school system. I write/read with some hesitation about the Finnish system, not wanting our Department of Education to find a 'fix' for what ails our schools, and paying money to send our officials across the Atlantic to study and replicate what the Fins are doing. With that being said, the Finnish system in my opinion is pretty organic and much different than ours, so I have little doubt that we'll be changing ours anytime soon.

Some thoughts and excerpts as I read.....

- The Finnish system has not been infected by market-based competition and high-stakes testing policies.

- The Finns have been able to reach broad consensus on most major issues concerning future directions for Finland as a nation...with Education always in the conversation.

- Schools have the opportunity to craft optimal learning environments and establish instructional content that will best help students to reach the general goals of schooling.

- An essential element of the Finnish comprehensive school is systematic attention to those students who have special education needs. (From what I can decipher, this is somewhat like our push to implement RTI on a larger scale)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Horizon Report

Just checking out the newly released Horizon Report, check out the report here.....

Thursday, February 9, 2012

More on Finland

I've previously posted about Finnish Education and there has been an abundant amount of press in regards to their education system and many interviews with their Education Minister. The Mind Shift blog had another short article yesterday, with an accompanying video below.

There were many similarities throughout the video when I was thinking about our school system and different programs we have in place.

- RTI model
- SST and weekly group who discuss children

Monday, January 16, 2012

Finnish Lessons

I've been reading a ton about education (reform) in Finland and had to order the book Finnish Lessons by Pasi Sahlberg. Have only read the first chapter but am excited about their approach and teamwork mentality. More review to come as I read on!