Saturday, February 28, 2015


It is all about the LEARNING, no matter where in the world the student is located or even how old the student is...we are all co-learners. 
I nominated my colleague and friend, Jennifer, here at this link:

I was restricted to 250 CHARACTERS, but if I had 250 WORDS, this is what I would say:

As an Educator Innovator, Jennifer Williams champions teachers every day to develop and implement instructional pedagogies that engage new digital literacy practices.  Both an educational leader and the recipient of the American Montessori Society’s Research Award for 2015, Jennifer works with university programs and pre-service Montessori teachers to bridge the gap between theory and practice.  Breaking through century-old methods, she works to find ways to effectively prepare beginning teachers to integrate technology into Montessori classrooms and lessons.  Together with teachers and students, she uses technology as a meaningful learning tool discovering practices that complement and enhance traditional Montessori tenets in powerful and transformational ways.  Jennifer examines ways teachers can challenge themselves to co-learn with students and explore as digital composers in common learning spaces.  Through her vision of providing all students with authentic opportunities for international collaboration and relevant learning with use of advanced teaching practices and latest technology, she seeks to empower teachers and students to prepare for their futures in a world that will prioritize creativity, innovation, and exploration.  At Calliope Global, she strives to inspire educators from around the world to be curious and motivated in efforts to lead meaningful change.  Seeing the world through a global lens, Jennifer believes in the power of teachers to act as change agents to transform the educational landscape of our world in new and innovative ways.  It is my pleasure to nominate my colleague, friend, and inspiration, Jennifer Williams, as a 2015 Digital Learning Champion!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Power of Connecting: #Read4Fun

Four years ago, as I started in my doctoral program, I was ready and prepared to make some life sacrifices.  Quickly, sleep was replaced by studying, social events were replaced by writing, and words in my life, such as relax and unwind, were replaced by words like quantitative and qualitative.  I immersed myself in research and was ignited by the way one study would lead me to five more.  However, along the way and without notice, my reading identity had changed and reading for pleasure was lost.  Though I am always reading, I realized recently that something was missing.  So, I started to reflect and quickly found that it was the connection that I so missed.  Connection to characters, connection to stories, connection to other readers.  Book clubs just don’t seem to exist in my current world of academic research and educational studies. 

So, as I prepared for my 40th birthday coming up next month in March, I decided that I needed to find a way to do both.  Research is part of me now and will be a constant in my life.  It energizes me and keeps me questioning and searching for knowledge.  Therefore, I needed to find a way and find the time to re-connect to my identity as a reader that I used to know; one that devoured books and stayed up late because the pages just seemed to continue turning without me even realizing. 

What happened next was magical and truly exemplifies the power of reading and the power of connection! And it all started with a tweet!

This past weekend, in efforts to inspire my “re-connected to reading” self to books, I sent out a tweet to my PLC on Twitter asking for great book recommendations.  Soon after, the amazing Sean Gaillard @smgaillard responded with a suggestion.  This sparked a connection with Connie Rockow @crockow8 and Lena Rockwood @Dr_LMR.  Connection turned to conversation.  Conversation turned to collaboration.  And collaboration turned to creation.  Within hours, #Read4Fun was formed!  Together, the four of us were energized and eager—each motivated to share our excitement surrounding books!  We tweeted to each other from the grocery story, the beach (sorry northern friends---yes, the weather here in Florida was nice enough for a beach day yesterday), and then from bookstores.  We gathered books for our reading lists and started to tell others.  Very soon, more people started sharing similar stories of how they, too, missed the readers they were years ago. 

One day later, #Read4Fun, a concept that was built on both books and connection, had organically developed.  Something that started simply with a birthday wish and a tweet was bringing me back to my reading self.  And, don’t you know, I stayed up way too late last night--lost in a book with pages that just seemed to turn themselves into the early morning hours! 

Looking forward to our inaugural chat this Sunday at 7pm! 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Global Kahoot - how AMAZING!

I am proud to announce that we are officially Kahoot Heroes! At the Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC), a group of early-adopter educators spread the word to thousands about the powerful impact of this amazing and engaging teaching tool. From taking part in the record-breaking-world's largest-Kahoot (with over 1,000 players) to sharing its classroom potential in concurrent sessions, instructors happily learned new ways to incorporate this technology into the classroom and crossing all disciplines.

Yesterday, while conducting a Professional Development learning session at a World Languages Department learning community event at Freedom High School in Tampa, I introduced the educators to Kahoot by playing a Kahoot... and they were instantly hooked! Of the tech tools discussed, Kahoot was definitely the audience favorite! It was rumored to me that one of the teachers would be creating a Kahoot that very night to play with her students the next day. Now, that's excitement!! Don't forget, if you are pressed for time, you can search for an already-made-Kahoot among the "public" Kahoots on their website, duplicate it, and then edit it to your taste and needs. User-friendly, simple, and fun are all great aspects of this tool to the educator!

Now, because global projects and collaboration are my passion, and I have been dreaming about doing this myself, here is an AWESOME post written by Heidi Samuelson (@swampfrogfirst) about combining Kahoot and Skype to create the ultimate classroom experience. Please let me know if you try it out yourself, and send me details and pics. I would love to share!

Heidi, your students must think your class is AMAZING! Happy connecting! 

FETC 2015 - It is all about Connections!

Thanks to all the amazing people with whom we were privileged enough to connect and also with whom to learn and share:

@Edtechnerd (Bryan Miller, Pine Crest School) 
@TanyaAvrith (Amplified IT)
@ThankYouKatie (Katie Evans, Edutopia)
@KatieKjewett (Katie Jewett, St. Cececia's School)
@Langexploration (Language Exploration Enrichment)
Denise Moore (Tampa Catholic High School)

Reflection to come soon! 

In case you missed it, here are Fran's slides and handout for her FETC concurrent session: Global Connections with Apps: Talk It Up!