Educational Lifelines (aka Check Out These Blogs)

Throughout October, educators in our school district have been challenged to tweet once every weekday. We’ve had daily topics to help ease people in to that process, and things have been going well so far.

Today I woke up to this question:


I just don’t feel I can do this question justice in only a tweet, so here I am writing a post about a few sites I can’t live without. (It’s worth noting that I can’t in any way provide anything close to a comprehensive answer in a blog post either, but at least I can do a little more justice to the question.)

While there are certainly a lot of well known websites out there that put out invaluable content for teachers, I’d like to highlight a few of the personal sites of educators here. I’ve learned so much from each of these educators over the past year. I’m intentionally going to leave you with a very brief summary of what you might find on each of their sites; take time to investigate their writing and engage in the conversations each of these folks are having.

Educational Blogs I Learn From Every Week

A.J. Juliani (blog, Twitter) writes a blog that will help you explore innovation and creativity in everyday situations you may come across as an educator.

Starr Sackstein (blog, Twitter) writes on a variety of topics. I’m most thankful for her example as a blogger, as this blog would not exist without this book she wrote on blogging and her blog that puts the ideas she shared in the book into action.

Pernille Ripp (blog, Twitter) writes with such passion for her work; it’s so easy to see she not only loves what she is doing, but she also wants to help others grow and has high expectations for the work that teachers do. Her work will push you and grow you as an educator. She also has another blog, Ms. Ripp Reads, that’s worth checking out if you’re ever needing to help students find something great to read.

Jon Harper (blog, Twitter) blogs about education and about his kids. His writing is a great reminder to me of the balance we have to keep between our professional and personal lives.

For me, both Jeff Zoul (blog, Twitter) and Jimmy Casas (blog, Twitter) serve as models of what effective leadership as a connected educator looks like in practice. Their writing is authentic, genuine, and challenging for me as a leader.

Kids Deserve It (blog, Twitter) is a fantastic blog that focuses on just what it sounds like–doing the things to serve our kids the way we should be. Todd Nesloney (Twitter) and Adam Welcome (Twitter) are a great combination of encouragement, challenges, and inspiration.

Leadupnow (blog, Twitter) brings together a group of growing education leaders who look at things differently. I’ve had the opportunity to write for them, and I enjoy the weekly pieces they publish.

Vicki Davis (blog, Twitter) writes with such contagious optimism and passion for her work and her students. She writes on a wide range of topics, and her blog is the perfect balance of pick me up and challenge for moving forward in the right direction.

I’m to the point now where if I get questions about anything regarding Google Apps for Education, I visit Alice Keeler‘s blog first for solutions (blog, Twitter). Her work is clear, concise, and incredibly helpful for educators trying to get the most out of GAFE.

So, there’s a few sites to keep you filled with great resources to read throughout the year. What do you like to read? Leave me a comment with what I should check out!

Make the Most of #YouMatterCSISD

Long colored logoEvents like CSISD’s You Matter Conference offer more than most people can take in during a single day. With so much great learning happening, it often feels like you’re missing out on something great that’s happening across the campus. So how do you make the most of your time on August 18th? Here’s a few tips to get the most out of your learning!

1) Go to a session and plan to report what you learned to a friend. Having to have something to say after a session increases the odds of you leaving with something truly applicable to your classroom. In addition to just knowing that you’ll be accountable for the session you attend, we know that summarizing helps increase retention. With that in mind, it’s probably a good idea to…

2) Take time to summarize your learning at the end of each session. Think about the take aways. Were they concrete ideas that are ready to implement on the first day of school? Were they abstract ideas you’ll continue to wrestle with? Either way, take notes about what you remember before you love to the next session. It’ll increase your retention remarkably. In addition to taking down what you learned…

3) Write down names/contact info for the new people you meet in your sessions. You are going to meet great people today throughout CSISD who you didn’t know before. Why risk not remembering that other teacher’s name at the end of the day? Take down that person’s name along with your summary. If he or she is on Twitter…

4) Take time to post a one sentence summary of your session on Twitter and tag a friend. Whether you’re new to the Twitterverse or you’re a seasoned tweeter, sharing your learning on Twitter is a way for every learner to grow. You have something valuable to say that will challenge others. (Don’t believe me? Watch this and tell me you don’t have something to add.)

5) Share your “Three things I want to learn more about this year.” You will encounter an overwhelming number of great ideas at the You Matter Conference. If you don’t limit yourself to a few actionable items as you leave, you run the risk of trying to implement too many new ideas in your classroom. Without an intentional plan to implement new ideas, you also run the risk of getting overwhelmed and not changing anything. Speaking of getting overwhelmed…

6) Give yourself a break. You can push yourself all day, but remember that we have to work tomorrow. You can give yourself a brain break by watching one of these videos. (For what it’s worth, some of these videos are played between TED talks at the live conferences. Everyone needs a brain break from time to time.)

7) Make lunch a learning experience, too. Ask what other people have learned about so far, or check the #YouMatterCSISD hashtag to see what people are sharing from their learning throughout the morning sessions.

8) Plan to participate in the launch of #CSISDchat on Twitter at 8:00pm after the You Matter conference. We’re going to be talking about the importance of relationships in education, and we’d love to have your voice included in the conversation! Never been in a Twitter chat before? Check out this video (or join me for session 2 “Twitterchat From Your Phone”) to get the hang of it.

I hope you have a fantastic time at You Matter, and I’m looking forward to learning alongside you in person and online!